Now that we’re nearing the end of this PSVR’s lifespan, I feel like we’re really seeing some of the best games the headset has to offer. Gone are the days of dealing with only short experiences, forced comfort options, and a lack of good button layouts. PSVR developers have really been able to push this headset to its limits, and while I’m very excited for PSVR2, I think there are still a handful of games this headset has to offer, with one of those games being Wraith The Oblivion – Afterlife. This is a title created by one of my favorite PSVR developers, Fast Travel Games. I gained a lot of faith in them through their first game Apex Construct, and I also enjoyed their short but sweet Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets game. And while I’m a few months late in reviewing this game, I still had an interest in trying it out, as I wanted to see what Fast Travel had been working on for the past few years. So now that I’ve played through the game, is Wraith The Oblivion – Afterlife any good?
Wraith The Oblivion – Afterlife is a story-driven horror game that’s about uncovering how you died after a series of strange events and a seance. You play as a cameraman named Ed, who’s stuck as some sort of ghost inside the place of your death, the Barclay Mansion. Throughout the game, you’ll explore this huge property as you view moments that lead up to your death. I had a great time with the story, there’s plenty of mystery and suspense, as well as some unexpected twists, and nice voice-acting.
As this ghost, you have a few items and abilities at your disposal. First is your trusty camera, which is what allows you to view previous moments in time, throughout the game you’ll see shards that you can take snapshots of to activate these moments. On top of the camera you’re also equipped with a flashlight, and like with all horror games, it’s not able to light up more than 2 feet away from you. Luckily this flashlight can also be used as a weapon to stun enemies with a flash. Though this flashlight constantly needs to be recharged with something called Pathos; pathos can be found by picking up snapshots lying around the mansion, or by activating a new save point. As for abilities, you have force-like powers that allow you to flick items towards you, and move heavy objects around. You also have the ability to listen for a heartbeat that leads you to the objective, this is done by holding your hand out and feeling where the heartbeat is leading you. I thought this mechanic was interesting at first, but after a while, it became slightly annoying to use and hard to follow.
The main focuses of the gameplay are exploration and stealth. The gameplay loop consists of finding items, unlocking a new area of the mansion, then occasionally sneaking around an enemy. The game doesn’t give you any weapons, other than the flashlight that stuns enemies for a few seconds, so stealth is necessary to progress in this game. The stealth mechanics are pretty standard stuff, sneak around enemies, crouch behind objects, distract by throwing objects, and so on. I thought the enemy AI was a little too simple at times, while at other times it was annoying. Some enemies can be easily outrun, while others hover close by until you make a move. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done and still manages to keep the intensity level high.
As for the exploration aspect of the game, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. The mansion is well designed visually and structurally, it’s huge in scale, and has some nice surprises hidden around. I was impressed with just how many areas there were to explore in the game, and how the game manages to keep them distinct in your mind, making backtracking easier to do. I’d also like to mention that the game is pretty impressive graphically, with little to no blur, and high-quality textures that really add to the overall immersion.
I think my biggest issue with Wraith is that it often doesn’t know what to fill the gameplay with, so it results to having you backtrack to collect items. And while this felt completely normal the first or second time it happened, towards the end of the game it started to feel like padding to fill the game’s length. There’s a specific moment in the last hour or so of the game where you’re about to enter a new area, but it asks you to go back and collect three items to proceed, which just felt unnecessary. Though I want to be clear that I only started to feel this in the last hour or so of the gameplay, as I felt for the most part the rest of the game was pretty well-paced. For reference, the game took me just around 5 hours to complete, with a completion rate of 85%. So if you’re a completionist, then expect an extra hour or two of gameplay.
Horror-wise, I wouldn’t call this one of PSVR’s scariest games, but it has some well-done horror through not only jump scares but gradual build-up through the environment and sound effects, which was really well done. The sound design in this game is fantastic, with plenty of great atmospheric sounds, and some chilling unnatural sounds from the enemies.
So overall I enjoyed Wraith The Oblivion – Afterlife. It has an enjoyable story filled with suspense, moments that will raise your heart rate, and a fun mansion to explore. Though it’s weighed down slightly by a lack of interesting puzzle design. I would have liked just a little more variety other than collecting items to unlock new areas, but once again that’s mainly in the last portion of the game that I noticed it. Otherwise, I think Wraith is a fun game, and while it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for horror, it’s definitely something fans of the headset should check out at some point.