This review was originally created in October 2018 for HTC, targeted to their original Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT) and Oculus Rift. It is reproduced here without alteration.
Billing itself as the “most popular horror experience in VR,” Affected: The Manor has a lot of hype to live up to. Originally released as a demo called Affected in 2014 during the early days of modern virtual reality technology, it has since morphed into a full game experience, the first in a planned trilogy.
Instead of focusing on puzzle solving, manipulating objects, or using weapons to battle enemies, Affected: The Manor sticks to the psychology of horror. Your interactions are limited to looking at and walking through “The Manor,” where your focus is on sticking to one of two routes and seeing one of four alternate endings. Since dying is not possible, the only real challenge here is having the personal fortitude to handle an anxiety-ridden experience where the next terrifying jump scare is only moments away.
Designed for the Vive or Oculus Rift, Affected: The Manor is playable seated or standing. The developers recommend that you not only stand and use headphones, but also play in a darkened room to minimize light bleed. These developers clearly mean business.
The audio-visuals can make or break this type of experience. Without the right sound design or realism to the graphics, it would be all too easy to lose immersion along the way. Fortunately, there are no Theremins, rubber masks, or D-list actors here, just a modern horror spectacle that is enhanced by incredible lighting effects, or the lack thereof. In fact, it’s this critical use of and absence of light that the developers have absolutely nailed, which is why it’s considered so important to turn off your own lights while playing to get the maximum intended effect.
Although I’m no horror movie fan – I tend to find most of them rather silly – I was genuinely frightened by this game. My heart rate and adrenaline levels went through the roof, and I admit I had to stop several times while playing to pull myself together. I suspect my family thinks I was a bit crazy with all the times I shouted in genuine fear, but I think you’d have to be pretty jaded not to do the same. And for the record, there were surprisingly no takers among my wife and daughters when asked to try it out for themselves!
Since it was developed over so many years and for so many different virtual reality platforms, Affected: The Manor does little to take advantage of the Vive’s feature-set. What the game lacks in features, however, it makes up for in pure design.
If you want a good fright without having to deal with puzzles or other distractions like fighting off the undead, this is the game for you. I’m not scared to say that Affected: The Manor proves once again that, when done right, there’s nothing more impressive, immersive, or frightening, than a virtual reality experience done right.
Score: 4 out of 5 stars.
Affected: The Manor is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.