Virtual Reality is a technology that is ripe for both gaming and cinema. Immersing yourself completely into a world is a profound experience that movies could absolutely benefit from. Restless Spirit is a short horror film in VR that allows you to look around each scene and interact with the events as they occur.
It’s a very smart idea, but does it make for a terrifying horror experience? Or, does this experience merely scratch the surface of what could be done with VR cinema?
A Tense Cinematic Experience in VR
While Restless Spirit is a short game that you can finish in under an hour, this experience will only run you about ten dollars. The premise involves a father who is being guided by a spirit to locate his missing daughter.
Since this experience was created by a Japanese studio, this type of horror style is evident in both the character design and the masterful tension. While you can’t move around the environments freely, you can turn and look in every direction, which triggers events.
The game doesn’t have any tutorials, so it took me some time to figure out how to play. The game relies on you to look at specific things in the environment. For example, in one scene I was looking around a darkened office and jumped out of my chair when a mirror suddenly cracked.
While there’s very little in the way of interactions, the tension and atmosphere in Restless Spirit always had me on the edge of my seat. The game relies mostly on this tension to keep things interesting, but it does offer a few jumps to mix things up.
The acting is in Japanese audio with English subtitles. These work fine, but sometimes they appear lower than they should, which forced me to look down to keep up with the dialogue. While the experience could have been longer and the story more detailed, it felt like a very promising concept for how VR cinema could become a mainstay genre.
Some Holes in The Presentation
Restless Spirit uses full-motion video to place you inside of real-world environments while using actual actors to provide a true piece of VR filmmaking. It’s a very smart idea, and one that I want to see done more often, but it’s not without flaws.
For starters, the video quality is somewhat blurry. It’s not terrible, but it’s not crisp or defined either. The general acting and effects are also fine, but the spirit girl leaves a little to be desired. She’s certainly scary the first few times you’ve seen her, but by the end, she will start to look like any other child in a Japanese horror film.
As a VR experience, Restless Spirit definitely nailed the tension and atmosphere I wanted from a horror standpoint, but its short runtime and surface-level story left me wanting more. Combine this with the less than stellar presentation, and it’s hard to completely recommend this one at full price.
Final Score: 5.0/10
A copy of Restless Spirit was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 6/25/18