The Brookhaven Experiment – HTC Vive
Platform: PC (HTC Vive)
Developer: Phosphor Games
Publisher: Phosphor Games
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Nerd Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Virtual reality…an entirely new experience for the average gamer. With the prices of the headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift nowhere near in my price range (not including a decent computer to run all of the equipment), it is a rather large investment that I am not sure I am willing to make. So before I begin, I would like to give a shout out to the recently open VR arena Outer Limits in my hometown Vacaville, CA. New to the market, they really hooked me up with a chance to try out a handful of titles on the Vive. As I slowly put on the headset and grip the controller dongles, I realize just exactly what I am in for. I may be a decent gunslinger in the VR world…but I am just a pawn in The Brookhaven Experiment.
Before I dive too deep into The Brookhaven Experiment, here is a quick analysis of the HTC Vive. Until trying this out, I was a Vive virgin. There…I said it. While the actual headset is rather bulky, you quickly get over it. I did suffer from nausea while using it initially, but that was just another obstacle to overcome. The dongles were not uncomfortable and definitely made the VR experience a little more realistic. Except when it came to reloading. Squeezing the handheld for some reason seemed difficult for me. Even though I kept accidentally (actually purposely) taking myself out of the experience to talk to the employees about logistical and operational standards for the Vive, if I am going to pick up a VR set for personal use, it will be the Vive.
Now, what exactly is The Brookhaven Experiment? Well, why don’t we dive head first into the lore (what lore?) shall we? Without spoiling too much of the rather non-existent story, the experiment was completed by the world’s greatest scientists but unfortunately didn’t turn out the way they expected. Thus, we bring you to the world’s end, where you have to make your final stand…consistently.
Now for those who aren’t familiar with the Vive or VR in general, you are given a set of controllers to hold so you can manipulate items in-game. Unlike The Lab (Aperture Science’s VR experience) where you can actually see the controllers, in Brookhaven the controllers represent your essential equipment. The left handset represents your flashlight and melee weapon (a badass machete), while the right is your weapon of choice. The controls are actually relatively easy to use once you get the hang of using the VR equipment. Just remember, these handsets are your in-game appendages. It really feels like you are actually in the center of this experiment…which makes this even more amazing.
Once you voluntarily step into the world of Brookhaven, there are two main modes that you can select from. Survival is what it sounds like; you are dropped into one of the few different maps and have to fend off hordes of monsters in escalating difficulty. Survival is an endless mode, so you play as long as you can survive. At Outer Limits, the current Town Square Survival high score is wave 16. I will beat that score eventually! At wave 9, I have a long way to go.
Let’s move on to what is actually important, the campaign. Except…it’s not in The Brookhaven Experiment. This is where the game really sinks. You can pick up a little bit of background from the monologue/advice at the beginning of every level, but the delivery is poor and flat and takes away from the experience. There is definitely no deep and meaningful narrative to be found, but then again…it isn’t really needed. The Brookhaven Experiment really doesn’t need it, as it does generate plenty of dread throughout every single round. While there is a thin story at best, it is enough to intrigue the player and keep them mowing down the approaching mutants.
Just like most horror games, sound and atmosphere is key to generating horror. Brookhaven succeeds in this, merely by focusing on lack of mobility while also providing a 360 view of your oncoming enemies. Especially as you achieve and reach further waves, you really want to run when you absolutely can’t. You have to make this your final stand and you know you are going to die. So you have to trigger and utilize all your senses, making every shot count. One through the brain, Walking Dead style.
So as far as The Brookhaven Experiment is concerned, the title is a must have for the Vive community. While it is not heavy on the scares, Brookhaven still supplies a fantastic ambiance and a suspenseful atmosphere that can terrify those not attuned to the realm of horror. Brookhaven actually utilizes plenty of the Vive’s capabilities, providing the player an experience worth playing over and over again. Damn you Outer Limits VR, I will beat your Town Square Survival high score eventually. If you have the means of trying out Brookhaven, you definitely should.
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