The Twilight Zone is TV royalty. This decades-old institution of American television has been shaped and re-shaped time and time again, not only to deliver unsettling, well-crafted forays into the unknown, but also to hold a mirror up to contemporary culture and society. Culturally relevant horror has always been popular in film and television, but games often highlight the least interesting parts of these concepts.
Horror video games often focus on aspects like survival, gore, and combat. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong or bad about that. Heck, some of the best games on Quest and Quest 2 — let alone the best games of all time — lean into those things. When games seek to move beyond the existing constraints of genre and medium, that's when they shine brightly.
Fun Train Media's crack at the dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity is one of those games. Insightful commentary and pulse-pounding thrills combine in the Twilight Zone VR, which is why we've chosen it as our Quest 2 game of the week this week!
Our Oculus Quest Game of the Week (opens in new tab) column highlights recent Quest titles, indie gems, App Lab up-and-comers, or cool sideloaded mods. Games that we didn't have time to review, but deserve recognition.
Enter another dimension...
Fans of more mechanically intensive horror and survival horror experiences, like last year's VR port of Resident Evil 4, might end up feeling a bit bored in the Twilight Zone. Unless you're brand-new to VR and still feel dazzled by the ability to pick things up and throw them, there's not much going on mechanically.
However, Twilight Zone VR does its best to remind you of exactly what you're in for before you walk through its iconic, unassuming white door. The onboarding process and tutorials paint the picture of a game that's mechanically simple, but that picture doesn't tell the whole story. Most of the Twilight Zone's actual gameplay mechanics are similar to what you might expect from any other game of its type. Movement, interaction, and controls are all fairly standard, but something unusual lies beneath even the simplest elements.
Where nothing is what it seems
Like a solid episode of the Twilight Zone, Twilight Zone VR takes a subversive, cerebral approach to its content and story. Its gameplay mechanics may leave a lot to be desired, but its approach to horror feels creative and unique. What the Twilight Zone VR may lack in mechanical subversion, it hits on the tone and structure of the original show relatively well.
From the moment you step through that white door, nothing is what it seems. Even before the game itself starts, Fun Train cleverly uses assets that look like the Quest 2's UI to throw curveballs your way. What looks like a run-of-the-mill system notification might trick you into doing something, only to pull the rug out from underneath you in a really fun way.
Even the game's tutorial presents you with tense, twisty thrills that feel tonally spot-on. You'll be put through the same ringer that the protagonist in a Twilight Zone vignette would be, right up to the end, when you're faced with some consequence of your character's actions.
This is all presented through the lens of socially relevant issues, like crunch culture at major video game studios. The subject matter isn't handled with the most nuance, but it's approached from the same on-the-nose, obliquely critical point-of-view that makes cultural commentary approachable and palatable for those who might not expect it in a VR game.
I know I'm being vague here, but that's intentional; so much of the Twilight Zone and its VR counterpart hinge on the unexpected and unknown. To spoil a twist or narratively inspired choice here would do you a genuine disservice, since it doesn't bring a whole lot else to the table.
Should you cross over into the Twilight Zone?
The Twilight Zone VR is mechanically simple, sometimes even bad, but it also taps into the same thrilling twists and palm-sweat-inducing moments that the original show did. If you're looking for something that brings you into an experience as a player, you might want to keep looking.
It's by no means boring, but Twilight Zone VR has the same mechanics as other horror games, without the same depth or gameplay loops to back it up. Step through that iconic white door looking for absurdist and subversive scares, and you won't be disappointed.
The Twilight Zone VR delives a uniquely gripping horror experience that only something set in the surreal dimension in-between could. Both fans of the show and fans of the genre can find something to enjoy here.
Buy it on: Oculus (opens in new tab)
Charlie's a freelance contributor at Android Central from Milwaukee, WI.
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