PSVR 2 dev explains eerie eye-tracking mechanics for VR horror game


Image: Supermassive Games Ltd

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The VR horror game “The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR” uses the eye tracking of the Playstation VR 2 in a perfidious way: The bloodstained monsters only move when you blink.

Already during the announcement of the PSVR2 horror game The Dark Pictures: Switchback, developer Supermassive Games hinted at nasty scary tricks using eye-tracking: Some monsters in the VR horror roller coaster only move when players close their eyes.

The game aims to show that PlayStation VR 2 can stand out from other VR headsets in terms of technology and gameplay. In a special from the video game magazine Edge, game director Alejandro Arqué Gallardo explains how the scare moments of his VR game play out in detail.

If you blink, you die

In the demo, Edge editor Alex Spencer traversed a special area dedicated exclusively to the new mechanics. After passing through a door labeled “Don’t blink,” bloodied mannequins await him, huddled on the floor.

When Spencer finally can’t take it anymore and has to blink, the mannequins change their positions. When he closes his eyes again, one of the mannequins even comes to life. Gradually he adjusts to the mechanics, closing the lids only tactically after reloading the guns.

Spencer cites the section as the highlight of the demo, the one that stayed with him most vividly for the longest time. The mechanics came about quite organically, says Arqué Gallardo: “We were basically creating the design of the level itself and then asking: how can we make it more real, using everything that we have at our disposal?”

As a result, eye tracking is not used throughout, at least not for game design. “We’re using it when it’s really going to make an impact,” Gallardo said.

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Nasty 3D sound intensifies the VR dread

The spatially mixed whispering of the demons is supposed to intensify the horror. Thanks to 3D audio, it should sometimes feel like they are standing directly behind the head of the person playing. The new head vibration feature of PSVR2 could increase the immersion even more, but this is not confirmed.

Supermassive Games already proved how good they are at such selective moments of terror Until Dawn: Rush of Blood for Playstation VR, which did without eye tracking. Although it was also only a virtual horror roller coaster, the title turned out to be so scary and partly disgusting that it became a crowd favorite in the Playstation VR launch lineup.

Since then, the first PSVR fans have been raving about the incomparably nasty roller coaster ride, in which undead, killer clowns and hung pig halves terrorize the armed passengers. The Dark Pictures: Switchback follows the same path and confronts interested players with all sorts of gruesome, deformed creatures.

As the name suggests, characters and scenarios from the “Dark Pictures Anthology” games naturally make an appearance here, while players once again defend themselves with firearms. More information about the game and other launch titles can be found in our overview of all VR games announced for Playstation VR 2 so far.

Sources: Edge #380: February 2023


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