Organ Quarter is a trail-blazer for VR horror games. It does not rely on jump-scares although the monsters will certainly make you jump out of your skin at least once or twice with it’s brilliant placement. The enemy variation is just right and their often sporadic movements can make for tense moments if you miss a shot and need to reload. You will know this game has boss battles. This might be considered a spoiler to some but if you’ve played any survival horror games, you will pick it up before it happens and know to expect one.
BOSS FIGHTS AND GAME LENGTH
I bring up boss battles for the sake of critique. Most are done well but the final boss does feel like it could have been executed better. Following that thought, Organ Quarter feels like it slips in and out of a “padding trope” for the second half of the game. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the full experience a lot but at some point I feel like I would have traded the last 3 hours for another 1.5 hours of the first half. It took me 6 hours to complete Organ Quarter on the “Survival Horror” difficulty and (whichever way you look at it and as long as it doesn’t completely suck) that is a great amount of play time versus dollar spent (especially since VR game lengths are often much lower than 6 hours).
I can hear the critics now. “GRAPH1CZ MAK3 DAH GAM3!” And by this they mean “good graphics” or some standard that means all else is bust if visuals doesn’t bleed realism. Organ Quarter does not have realistic graphics in the sense we see today… but you know, that is okay. I’d even say that is a bigger plus for Organ Quarter because it gives a better “nightmare” or “retro” feel… however you want to look at it. One of my favorite horror games is Cry of Fear and if you know what that is, you will know why “X engine” and “gud graffics” don’t make the horror game.
To a large part, the soundtrack makes the game. I don’t think I will remember everything about this game years from now, but I can tell you that if I ever heard the soundtrack being blasted by someone driving down the road… it would be unmistakable. The dark, industrial , and electronic mixes really set the mood (or even parts where there is not music and dead silence). It’s brilliant in the music department and without those rich tones… it wouldn’t be the same. So what about the voice actor cast?
Dr. Alset and his voice actor is definitely the star of the show. Without the voice actors talent and emphasis, it might have been a car wreck in this department. You have a few other voice actors but (no offense actors) it feels a little “phoned in”. The animations for the characters don’t always feel like it matches how the in-game character is coming across but that is no fault of the v/o actor. You might have mixed feelings too but its nothing to avoid this game over.
VR is still an experimental field so there is no real “right way” to do VR controls. This game is made to work with both the Rift and Vive with angular snapping of the camera for those who do not have a 360 degree setup. You can choose to play with traditional movement of character or you can teleport. Teleportation is not recommended for the best experience but it is there in case you get sick by thumb-stick locomotion. Organ Quarter does survival horror right and gives you an inventory in-game that you need to manage which, for the most part, translates well in interaction.
That is not to say that inventory interaction is without it’s faults. Some puzzle items will be very annoying later when you need to set them outside of your inventory and use (only to pick up and go immediately in your inventory and not for use in your hand). It could use some tweaking but for the most part, this one puzzle in particular was the only main headache. Organ Quarter also implements save rooms very nicely (where you can only save the game and nowhere else, duh) which includes a proper box to store additional items when your on-person inventory is full. You will need to manage both inventories fairly frequent! Survival horror and inventory management… imagine that!
Organ Quarter is definitely a good game if not in some parts “great” for how well it handles survival horror and effectively re-introduces it to us in VR. You can feel the strong Silent Hill vibes and whether you feel that is a cop-out for style and plot device… that is up to you. There are plenty of puzzles to figure out and some even make you feel smart. The added ability to get a map of your current level and place stamps on it to guide you… is genius as well. For an indie title and the work of a small studio, it is certainly the VR horror entry that Silent Hill and horror game fans will definitely overall enjoy.