One of the most common negatives that is directed at the Oculus Quest is that its library is lacking in a rich selection of narrative-based single-player adventures for players to indulge in. Sure, it does have the likes of Moss, Apex Construct, Vader Immortal and Republique VR, but its selection is certainly a LOT more limited when compared to other virtual reality platforms.
Thankfully, Drifter Entertainment have released an all-new adventure for Oculus Quest players to sink their teeth into, with the horrific Lies Beneath offering an eerie story-driven experience that feels like it has come straight out of the pages of the Tales of the Crypt comic series. It’s just the sort of game that Oculus Quest needs to strengthen its library right now, with the single-player escapade proving to be both fun and gripping throughout its eight-hour romp.
Lies Beneath puts you in the shoes of a college student named Mae who, after getting involved in a car crash with her father, awakens to find him missing – it’s like Silent Hill, but if the roles had been flipped. With a trail of her father’s blood leading from the car and into the woods, she decides to search for him and make sure that he’s safe. However, with Mae’s mind playing dark tricks on her and plenty of monstrous creatures lurking around, her journey isn’t going to be a safe or easy one…
The game’s narrative goes into a lot of depth throughout your adventure, whilst there are plenty of small details to uncover that flesh out the lore behind both Mae’s life and her surroundings. Want to know the best part of all? It’s presented in a comic book style, with the cutscenes shown off as the pages of a comic book that offer neat effects that change based on the perspective that you look at them. The world itself is full of comic book panel-like visual effects too, with the game’s story and Mae’s thoughts presented with little text boxes that pop up in the environment. It all looks really cool in-game – the only thing that’s missing is some voice acting, though it’s pretty understandable given that… well… you’re supposed to READ comics.
Lies Beneath’s adventure sees you working through a selection of eerie environments, all whilst solving an assortment of simple puzzles, killing the vicious enemies hunting you down, and surviving the many horrific hazards that are littered across each area. It’s mostly linear in design, though you do have your trusty lighter that’s embers won’t only point in the direction that you need to go but also light up the MANY dark locales you’ll be exploring as you search for your father. There are multiple control schemes on offer that can be fine-tuned so players can figure out what works best for them, though I’d recommend using the traditional first-person controls with the dual-sticks and smooth movement (if your stomach can handle it).
Most of Lies Beneath’s journey involves exploring the environment and uncovering its many unsettling sights, though a lot of time will be spent in combat with the world’s many nasties too – fortunately, you’ll have both melee and ranged weapons at your disposal, so you’re certainly well-equipped to take them down.
Admittedly, the combat in the game is a little bit of a mixed bag, though it’s still mostly competent in design. Whilst the gunplay is satisfying and offers enough punch with each bullet you unload upon your foes, the melee weapons just felt like they lacked any real weight – you just swing your arms carefree and hope that you manage to kill an enemy before they kill you. There’s not much tactical thought required and there’s no real emphasis placed on avoiding any incoming attacks either, with players just slicing away and hoping for the best most of the time. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some neat ideas implemented though, with certain weapons getting stuck into your enemies when you land a good, clean hit. Sure, it means you’ll lose your weapon, but it’s a cool idea that fits in nicely with the game’s horror setup.
At least the guns are a lot more fun to use and it’s certainly rewarding to line up some clean shots upon your enemies in quick succession. In true horror game fashion, ammo is pretty limited across the game world, so you’ve either got to make sure that every shot counts or you can just attempt to avoid some encounters altogether by running. You’ll also find a few helpful items across the environment that can be used to stop enemies in their track, with bear traps proving especially useful when you’ve got some zombified monstrosity in pursuit of you.
Where Lies Beneath really delivers is with its atmosphere, with the game’s eerily designed environments and creepy set-pieces ensuring that players will feel on edge throughout the entirety of their adventure. I ALWAYS felt as if someone was watching me (and sometimes they really were), whilst all of the little noises you’ll hear around you will leave you a bag of nerves as you wait for something to jump out and spook you. The game isn’t shy in throwing a few jump-scares your way either, and whilst some were a little bit predictable, there were a few that caught me off guard – of course, it’s all the more frightening in VR which made the whole experience a lot more nerve-wracking… I loved it.
The game is spread across twenty chapters, which should take around eight-hours to play through in total. Lies Beneath is pretty lengthy for a virtual reality title and there’s enough variety on offer across that time to keep you completely hooked in, so you’ll never feel bored as you witness Mae’s adventure unfold.
I can’t end this review without mentioning Lies Beneath’s visuals, which also adopted a stylish comic book-vibe throughout. You wouldn’t typically expect a horror game to be so cartoony in style, but it works wonderfully here and felt particularly unique to be implemented in VR. One thing I will say is that some of the game’s best locations come in the later chapters, with the first few areas you explore lacking in variety. Stick with it though and you’ll soon find yourself uncovering some truly impressive sights, some of which will stick with you for some time thanks to their horrific presentation. Lies Beneath offers a world that horror fans will DEFINITELY enjoy being a part of.
I had a REALLY good time playing through Lies Beneath, with its intriguing narrative, eerie locales, and startlingly horrific atmosphere keeping me on edge throughout. The combat in the game Is decent too, though the melee weapons did lack a bit of oomph to make them especially fun to use.
Those looking for a deep and entertaining adventure to play on their Oculus Quest will definitely want to check Lies Beneath out. Not only is it a fantastic horror experience that feels especially impressive in virtual reality, but it’s also one hell of a lot of fun to play too.
Developer: Drifter Entertainment
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed), Oculus Rift