With gamers itching to get their hands on the upcoming Vampire: The Masquerade II and Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood recently releasing (and not being as bad as some critics might tell you), it’s a pretty good time to be a fan of the World of Darkness. The tabletop-RPG franchise seems to be stronger than ever in the video game landscape right now, with different properties within it seeing adaptations. It’s only right then that a virtual reality title should release too, and what better way to do it than with Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife? With prolific virtual reality developer Fast Travel Games at the helm, the game makes for an enthralling (and often frightening) experience.
I have zero experience with the Wraith: The Oblivion universe, so I was a little bit blind coming into this. Thankfully, the game caters for newbies, with nothing about the narrative ever making me feel like I was out of the loop. I’m sure those who are familiar with it might appreciate it more, but it isn’t a necessity in order to enjoy Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife.
Players take on the role of photographer Ed Miller as he works photographing a séance at the Barclay Mansion. If THAT isn’t the perfect setup for a spooky story, I don’t know what is. Of course, things take a sour turn and Ed ends up dead. Game over…
…Or not. Alongside everyone else at the séance, Ed becomes a Wraith (a ghost) and awakens with no memories of his death or the time spent within the mansion. With it left in a derelict state and with tattered memories of the past guiding him along, Ed must uncover the secrets within Barclay Mansion and try to resolve its mystery. It’s easier said than done though, especially since there are other ghouls lurking around that want nothing more than to send Ed to the pits of Oblivion.
“Learning more about the mansion, the folk that inhabited it, and the spectres that now haunt it was utterly engrossing…”
In many ways, Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife is your typical paranormal story – the fact that you play a ghost does change things up a little, but the core premise might be familiar. That’s not a complaint by any means; in fact, I loved seeing the story unfold, with the haunting halls of the Barclay Mansion full to the brim with little stories that flesh out the world. Learning more about the mansion, the folk that inhabited it, and the spectres that now haunt it was utterly engrossing, with each reveal drawing me more and more into the tale. It’s not all about ghostly scares either, with the best and worst of human nature portrayed throughout the narrative. I didn’t expect the story to be one of the best things about the game, but it REALLY hooked me in.
Whilst the storytelling is stellar, Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife is more than a virtual ghost story. Players are tasked with exploring the Barclay Mansion, finding the items required to progress, and solving some puzzles along the way. Ed is even able to use his camera in order to witness past events, whilst other objects he finds can be used to reach previously inaccessible areas. Of course, being a ghost brings with it bonuses, with Ed able to walk through walls and use his sharpened senses to seek out his objectives. Whilst the latter is simply a fancy waypoint system, there’s something eerily satisfying about being able to go through walls as a ghost. I mean, being dead has to have some perks, right?
“Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife is more than a virtual ghost story.”
Whilst puzzling and exploration are at the forefront, there’s still a sense of danger to be felt within Barclay Mansion’s halls. No, you don’t have to worry about the Ghostbusters, but rather the other spooks that have been left behind. These spectres are lurking around and have to be evaded, whether that’s by wating for them to be out of sight or simply sneaking past them. It’s possible to get away from them if they do catch sight of you by using your torch, but more so than not they’ll send you to an early grave… I mean… they’ll kill you… again? You know what I’m getting at here.
It all comes together nicely to make for a gripping experience, with the blend of satisfying exploration, puzzle-solving, and stealth keeping Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife feeling varied throughout. There’s a real sense of discovery to be felt, with more locales within Barclay Mansion and additional powers being unlocked as you progress through the game. The narrative will keep you invested, but it’s backed up by an entertaining gameplay experience.
“There’s a foreboding atmosphere throughout the entirety of Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife that’ll keep players on the edge of their seat…”
There is one important question I haven’t answered: is Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife actually scary? I’d say yes, though the fact that you’re playing as a ghost did alleviate some of the sense of danger for me. Don’t get me wrong, you can be sent to Oblivion by the wandering spectres so there is a threat out there, but it felt less scary than if I was playing as someone who was alive. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me immersing myself in my role too much…
Outside of that, there’s a foreboding atmosphere throughout the entirety of Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife that’ll keep players on the edge of their seat, whilst some scripted scares will catch players off-guard. It’s not the most frightening virtual reality title that I’ve played, but it’s certain unnerving.
Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife offers free movement with the left-stick, so it’s easy to immerse yourself in the world as you look around. Those who aren’t so comfortable in virtual reality will be glad to see there are some decent comfort options in place too, whether that’s by teleporting your character, using snap rotation, or activating vignettes. Fast Travel Games are some of the best in the biz as far as virtual reality is concerned and they’ve catered for all audiences with Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife’s comfort settings. There were a few clunky moments here and there when using items or interacting with doorways, but overall it feels great to play in virtual reality.
Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife is an eerily entertaining virtual reality romp that tells an enthralling ghost story. The gameplay is top notch throughout too, with the satisfying sense of exploration, the neat puzzling, and the gripping stealth sections all coming together nicely – you get some cool ghost powers too, which is always a plus.
There are a few clumsy moments with the controls here and there, but they’re minor hiccups in what is otherwise a stellar experience. I thoroughly enjoyed Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife from start to end and sincerely hope that we’ll get to experience more of the World of Darkness in virtual reality in the future.
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Platform(s): Oculus Quest 2 (Reviewed), Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift
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