AFFECTED – The Manor is the first in the AFFECTED trilogy and it’s finally made its way to Oculus Rift CV1 and also includes Touch support. It’s a short experience, although it does have four paths and different endings to discover. Although fairly short, it’s memorable, and it will be interesting to see what Fallen Planet Studios does with The Cabin when that releases, probably later this year. That said, AFFECTED is best played standing up, with Touch controllers, and ideally in a darkened room. I also just got in my Rift Earphones and used those to help add a bit more to the comfort and immersion of the experience. The game warns you upon booting up that it uses jump scares and that if you have a nervous disposition, to maybe sit this one out. I admit I was a little intimidated by this by also curious, and pressed on.
The first thing I noticed about AFFECTED that would hold true throughout the approximately hour long experience was that it was much more spacious and open than something like Dreadhalls, which was one of my first VR experiences. Dreadhalls has been one of the few games to give me motion sickness and I think part of that was due to the repetitive wall and ceiling textures and the claustrophobic, ninety-degree intersections it used. At least with AFFECTED, ceiling height is typically high, rooms are large, and it was altogether a more comfortable experience.
Anyway, AFFECTED contains no story or characters, you simply start outside the front gate of a very spooky looking manor and you approach the front door. It swings open and you’re compelled to enter. Lots of spooky, although perhaps over-used themes and tactics to build atmosphere are used. These include the sound of children playing or crying, dolls and toys, bats, a large fire in the fireplace, an old record player cranking out tunes from the ’20s or ’30s, old portraits that change when you look at them — such things are all on the menu with AFFECTED. Having just played through Layers of Fear and its Inheritance DLC in the last few months, much of this felt familiar, but in VR, it gave the experience a more intense edge.
Fortunately, AFFECTED does not use a lot of jump scares, instead, it typically works towards building up a sense of dread for the player, that sense of unease that you just want to get through this and you’ll be glad when it’s over. To that end, AFFECTED does well, and I didn’t think it’s brevity, given its overall quality and price of admission, was a bad thing. To date, I have only played through one of the four paths and I’m not sure when I’ll go back for more, but it’s nice to have the option, even though I don’t believe any path is much longer or all that different than another.
As far as Touch controller use, it’s pretty basic — the player carries a flashlight, but, it only turns on at scripted moments when the game decides to. You can move the hand with the flashlight around just as you would if you were holding a light, but otherwise there is nothing to interact with or do with the Touch controller’s motion tracking, so playing with a gamepad is just as well.
Bottomline, if you’re into the first person exploration and horror genre and can handle some spooks in VR, AFFECTED is definitely worth checking out.