Atmospheric and Psychological Horror Done Well
Virtual reality serves as an excellent platform for horror games. Resident Evil VII was such a success because of its incredible VR setting. The top VR games, too, all seem to flock from the horror genre, as the immersion of wearing a VR headset enhances even a shoddy game. In today’s gaming age, most first person horror games feature hyper photorealistic scenery, resulting in truly unnerving experiences. Rise of Insanity is one of the newest games to feature VR support, but it serves to be as effective without a Vive or Rift.
Rise of Insanity is a new psychological horror game from indie developer Red Limb Studio. From its inception, where you’re sitting in a chair, presumably a patient, waiting to view a film projection that is part of your therapy, Rise of Insanity takes you on a thrilling and mind bending journey filled with enough atmospheric horror and tension to keep you on the edge of your seat. Without spoiling too much of the overall plot, you play as Edward, a gardener for a psychotherapist, who is undergoing some pretty wild and controversial treatments in order to merge his personalities together (he allegedly suffers from a minor case of split personality disorder). In order to do so, his doctor, Dr. Stephen Dowell, suggests allowing him to finish his dream – to kill his wife and son. As the game progresses, you begin to realize not everything is as it seems and the horrors of living inside the mind of a mentally ill person.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Rise of Insanity functions as a puzzle horror walking simulator. I really only died once at the beginning of the game because I didn’t see the fuses I needed to restore power to a room, and walking into specifically dark areas will result in death. That said, the puzzles were never terribly difficult, but I did enjoy skulking my way through the various horrific settings (I particularly enjoyed roaming the accessible areas of Dr. Dowell’s hospital. Sure, it’s a shame the puzzles – if you can really call them that – were simple, but that meant that I never found myself stuck in any section of a plot driven game; doing so would have robbed the experience of its integrity and hurt the overall production.
Visually, Rise of Insanity achieves a high level of aesthetics. It’s dark and gritty, intentionally so, and utilizes its hyper realistic setting to its full advantage. While the character models, of whom you don’t really see til the end, aren’t particularly top notch, they work as planned and wore unnerving masks that drew away much of the attention. Overall, Rise of Insanity is aided by its visuals, and in more than one occasion got me to jump thanks to them. Sound, too, helped push those jump scare moments – the soundtrack was tense and the atmospheric noises were immaculate. The only real issue with sound I had came down to the mediocre voice acting. Worse yet, the grammar, spelling, and overall writing style was bad, and, while I could write away some of it to the insanity of the character and notes being written by different characters, the essence of each letter was hindered by poor translation. What really threw me off was that the voice actors would say something different than the subtitles, and when you hit the F key to read a text, the actual prompt is different than the literature you were reading. It makes for a frustrating play, for sure, but it is an overall minor hindrance that only occasionally reared its ugly head.
If you’re a fan of psychological horror games, Rise of Insanity will definitely sate your appetite. It is a short experience, clocking in at maybe 5 hours, but it offers an enormous punch. Unfortunately, I guessed the twist right near the beginning of the game, so there was no surprise for me. Either way – whether you know what happens – the spiral into deeper states of insanity is so well done that you are bound to enjoy yourself. If you have a VR headset and/or you love psychological horror games, I highly recommend Rise of Insanity.