Blair Witch originally released as a non-VR game from Bloober Team, the creators of Layers of Fear and the upcoming Xbox/PC horror game, The Medium, but is now getting the VR treatment with the Blair Witch: Oculus Quest Edition out today on October 29th. Read on for our full Blair Witch VR review.
The Blair Witch Project is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s often credited as the source of the now-ubiquitous personal hand camera POV format in films and was essentially one long, creepy, family movie gone wrong. I love slow-building tension and genuinely unsettling characters that make your skin crawl. The ending for the original Blair Witch film, how the camera just drops and cuts off at the end like that, really stuck with me as a kid.
Now, even though this game is simply titled Blair Witch (or in this case Blair Witch VR) it’s not actually tied to the film directly. Instead, it just takes place in the same universe, kind of like The Exorcist: Legion VR relates to that franchise.
In Blair Witch VR you take on the role of Ellis, a former police offer with a troubled past that joins a search party searching for a young boy that’s gone missing in the Black Hills Forest. The year is 1996, so don’t expect to see a lot of modern technology being used. It’s a slow-paced, creepy psychological horror game that does a really nice job of immersing you in the unsettling atmosphere surrounding the Blair Witch’s legacy.
Read More: Why Blair Witch Is The ‘Perfect Fit’ For VR Horror
Generally speaking, this is the same as the non-VR game. There isn’t really anything new here in terms of the story and content, but rather the way it’s played is all new. Specifically, you have hand presence now. This means you can manually pet the dog (that’s very important in my opinion) and reach out to pick up things in the environment. They’ve done a good job here of making this feel like a game that was made for VR, but every now and then you’re reminded that it was, in fact, a non-VR game first — such as with the letterboxed cutscenes that aren’t 360 or 3D.
The scares are solid. There are a handful of jump scares sprinkled throughout, but overall this is a very slow-paced and atmospheric game. Outside of VR when I played originally I found myself often getting frustrated when I was lost in the woods. But in a VR headset, it’s just another form of suffocating tension that really surrounds you. It’s that type of slow-building terror, like something is going to leap out at you any second now.
Speaking of getting lost though, it does happen, and eventually it can still get annoying here. This isn’t an action horror game like Resident Evil so it’s not like there’s a bunch of combat to help break up the aimless wandering bits. The vast majority of this game boils down, essentially, to aimless wandering. That being said, it’s quite immersive and creepy the whole time.
Luckily, you’ve got a dog buddy with you most of the time. Reaching down to pet him is great. Some players might be put off by the floating hands instead of full arms and body IK, but honestly you get used to it. It looks weird in screenshots and video, but you truly begin to ignore it after playing for a while.
Just like the non-VR counterpart, Blair Witch VR clocks in at around six hours, but I could see it taking longer if you get really stuck or if you genuinely enjoy exploring the forest. It’s quite detailed and pretty to look at, even if you constantly feel like you’re being stalked.
Blair Witch VR Review Final Verdict
As far as ports of non-VR games go, Blair Witch VR is quite great as it manages to be better than its non-VR predecessor in basically every way Frankly, this setting fits VR like a blood-soaked glove and I hope to see more Blair Witch games in VR after this. Horror naturally lends itself to the immersive realms of a VR headset and it doesn’t get a whole lot more unsettling than the iconic Blair Witch franchise. This doesn’t quite soar to the same heights as something like Five Nights at Freddy’s (on every VR platform) in terms of sheer jump scares, or even The Exorcist VR (on every VR platform) or Resident Evil 7 VR (on PSVR) in terms of highly-concentrated VR horror-fueled tension, but it easily ranks as one of the scariest horror games yet for the Oculus Quest.