Horror is one of the primary reasons I have been excited about VR, and we have only sampled what is to come on this revolutionary platform. With games and experiences like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Here They Lie, and The Kitchen demo, the future is bright and bloody. My investment in horror has been lifelong, spanning movies, television and gaming from Nightmare on Elm Street on NES to my latest adventure in The Brookhaven Experience.
The Brookhaven experience is a stationary survival shooter where players must take on mutated creatures of the night in a variety of environments including sewers and laboratory basements. Although there are several modes, including survival and campaign, the gameplay all relies on taking out the onslaught of deformed monstrosities as they limber closer to you. You must use your flashlight, knife (because ammo will become scarce at certain points in the game), and various upgrades you will find hidden throughout each level. You can wrestle your way through the storyline in the campaign mode or set up a standard arcade survival mode where waves of baddies will make their way towards you. The storyline is told to you through a woman on a walkie-talkie at the start of each level (and wave), but the storyline is not one of the areas that Brookhaven shines. In essence, most gameplay is the same. If you are looking for something to send chills down your spine, this isn’t that kind of horror, but if you are looking to increase your heart rate as a monster towers over you as you turn around, this may be the title for you. The plot was not laid out in a such a way to bring focus to the story , which is unfortunate, as Brookhaven had a lot to work with in that department.
The action of Brookhaven is where the game finds strength. Players find themselves with a deep sense of urgency as the flashlight runs out of batteries, ammunition runs out, and monsters charge towards at growing rates. The kind of “horror” that Brookhaven relies on is primarily jump scares. Some levels, such as the lab basement will have you looking down multiple hallways as mutants slink out of doorways and run towards you, but the scariest of levels place you in an entirely open environment. The difficulty of the game increases quite a bit after the first couple of levels, so you will need to unlock more weapons, ammo, grenades, and even charms to help you fight off the baddies.
The controls for The Brookhaven Experiment were a bit clumsy at times, especially when trying to operate the knife; I often felt as if I was randomly swinging it in the air with no real purpose, hoping it decapitated something. The game is played in a standing position, but when trying to twist around in order to shoot enemies, the move controllers will inevitably lose their tracking with the PS camera. This becomes even more difficult when running out of ammunition, trying to use your knife to defend yourself against more and more monsters. The “quick turnaround” button will need to be mastered as it offers a way around blocking the tracking, but can be disorienting at times. This is, no doubt, part of the hectic nature of the game, but several times led me to death merely because I was confused at where I was in relation to the onslaught.
The Brookhaven experience looks good. Although there are a limited amount of environments, the character models are disturbing and offer some delights to those who appreciate horrific monsters. The mutants look a bit like something you would see in a cross between Resident Evil and Doom and do their fair share of jumping the player when they turn around and they are at arm’s length. Additionally, the 3D sound is used to enhance this sense of oncoming dread. Otherwise, lighting lends itself to an increased amount of fear, especially when the batteries on your flashlight dies. Although there are a limited amount of environments, the ones that were chosen work well for the storyline and the overall aesthetic.
Final Thoughts: The first couple of times I played Brookhaven, I had trouble immersing myself in the experience due to the learning curve. When I first started playing, I was trying to play the game by turning 360 only, which will not work for players. Once I mastered the “turn around” button (which is one solution as developers try to solve how to navigate in VR), I enjoyed the game a lot more, but over time I had a hard time keeping interest in the game due to worrying more about the controls than what was happening. I found myself dipping out of being immersed and trying to remember how to switch to grenades, turn around, shoot, use my flashlight, and switch back to my knife. It became frustrating to get near the end of a level and die (making me start over) because of the disorientation of these mechanics.
With that said, taking Brookhaven as an arcade-style shooter, it offers a singular experience that, despite lacking a little polish, does it well. When it comes down to it, my excitement in playing this game came from the perception of fear I would experience from monsters rushing towards me, knowing I could not fend them all off. This experience was tainted a bit by controls (initially because I did not realize you could quick turn), and general lack of diversity within the experience. With that said, The Brookhaven Experiment is what it is, a survival shooter with a wave-by-wave system where you can decapitate monsters and let the sewers run red.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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