Game Style: Thriller/Horror Controller: Dual Shock Length: 4+ Hours Price:$19.99 on PSN Store
When I hear the word thriller I first think of zombies coming out the ground, grabbing their crotches and doing Michael Jackson's signature move. But Stifled comes to my mind now when you say thriller. The distinction of "thriller" doesn't really clue the player in on what to expect. However, I will say that Stifled has been the most thriller experience I have had on the PSVR yet.
This game uses the dual shock control and uses very simple controls. You pick things up and interact with objects with X, look around via snap turning via the right toggle and move translationally via the Y toggle. The controls are intuitive and work well. There are no problems here, simple and straightforward.
The one thing for me that makes this game so amazing is the concept in general. The game uses the microphone inside the headset to identify noises that you make and incorporates those into the game as echoes. In the game you will play in worlds that are completely dark and the only way to progress is to make noise and allow the echoes of your voice to identify objects within your path. I have never heard of a concept like this and it just blew me away. Not only is the concept unique, but was executed to perfection. This is Stifled's claim to fame.
Now that we got my fanboy-ness of my love for the concept out of the way, the game itself is awesome. You play as a man who is looking for his wife, but slowly unwrap a ton of baggage including failed pregnancies, adoption agencies, fights with your spouse and then you are dropped into these chaotic worlds that could only be imagined if you just took some acid. The game keeps you on edge and makes it difficult for the player to really understand what is going on until the end of the game.
Stifled's slogan is "They Hear Your Fear" and is well said because on multiple occasions you are traversing the dark world and all the sudden your echoes turn red and you hear various screeches. This signifies an enemy is coming for you. There are not many enemies in this game, less than 10 I would say so you become complacent and then boom, bad guy in your face. It startles you, makes you nervous and at times is terrifying. In these scenes you have to walk the line between making enough noise to be able to see where you are going but not too much for the enemies to come after you. Something about this is terrifying. The darkness definitely plays a part in this experience, but it certainly is unsettling. I had a couple friends come over to play some PSVR and when I hooked Stifled up, it ended up scaring them a little too much. So it truly is a horror game as well.
A fun yet kinda awkward part of gameplay is using the echolocation. In this I mean that you have two ways to create sound waves that are used to illuminate your way through the world. You can either throw rocks, shoes, hats and other objects or you have to talk. So essentially you will be in your room talking to yourself in order to proceed in the game. So when you are the only one in the room what do you say when you have to talk? That is up to you, but you can sing, discuss the game, make jokes, pretty much whatever you want. But at first this is pretty awkward. Especially when other people are close enough to hear. It is really fun watching other people play it though because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to themselves.
No other PSVR game had me walking around in game and asking "What the eff am I doing or what the eff is going on" like Stifled did. And this is a good thing. I love the mystery of the game and when you mix it with the dark environments it produces a surreal experience for the player.
I only have a few small improvements/complaints for the game. First, you walk so slowly in the game. I know this is odd, and really the game is about experiencing the world so going slowly will help with this. But at times I got bored just walking so slowly. Another, and really the only real issue, is that the game will have limited replay value. The game thrives on its plot and mind bending atmosphere. This makes for an incredible first gameplay. However, once you have done it I don't see me playing this many more times or really wanting to. After you know what will happen the scares and anxiety won't be as fruitful.
Another thing to note for players is that there is no combat component to the game. You can't defeat the enemies but merely run away from them. In scenarios where you are afraid many people's instincts are to fight back and many horror games utilize this, but Stifled requires you to just take the stealthier option to safety. This isn't a knock on the game because this was designed so, but don't expect to fight off your demons in battle.
One nice feature that could have easily been overlooked is a level select option. Once you beat the game you can choose which levels you would like to play. This is fantastic for showing off your PSVR or if you want to watch your friends and family crap their pants from terror.
Aside from Resident Evil 7, Stifled is the scariest and most unsettling game for the PSVR. If you are into these type of games Stifled is a must buy. The developers took an award winning idea and executed it perfectly for the ultimate player experience. I was very surprised on how much I enjoyed the game and for anyone who likes games such as RE7, Here They Lie and Rush of Blood then Stifled is a must have.