The Twilight Zone is television royalty. This decades-old institution of American television has been shaped and reshaped time and time again, not only to deliver unsettling and well-crafted forays into the unknown, but also to hold up a mirror to contemporary culture and society. Culturally relevant horror has always been popular in film and TV, but games often highlight the less interesting parts of these concepts.
Horror video games often focus on aspects such as survival, gore, and combat. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong or wrong with that. Heck, some of the best games on Quest and Quest 2 – not to mention the best games of all time – lean into these things. When games seek to overcome existing constraints of genre and medium, that’s when they shine brightly.
Fun Train Media’s crack as vast as space and as timeless as infinity is one such game. Insightful commentary and thrills combine in Twilight Zone VR, which is why we picked it as our Quest 2 Game of the Week this week!
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 a little bored in the Twilight Zone. Unless you’re brand new to VR and still find yourself dazzled by the ability to pick things up and throw them, not much happens mechanically.
However, Twilight Zone VR does its best to remind you of exactly what you’re looking for before you walk through its iconic, unassuming white door. The onboarding process and tutorials paint a picture of a mechanically simple game, but that picture doesn’t tell the whole story. Most of 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 lurks beneath even the simplest elements.
where nothing is what it seems
Like a solid episode of 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 is creative and unique. What the Twilight Zone VR may lack in mechanical subversion, it hits the tone and structure of the original show relatively well.
From the moment you walk through that white door, nothing is as it seems. Before the game itself even begins, Fun Train cleverly uses resources that resemble the Quest 2 UI to throw curveballs at you. What looks like a mundane system notification might prompt you to do something, only to pull the rug out from under you in a really fun way.
Even the in-game tutorial presents you with twisty thrills that feel perfectly on the spot. You’ll be subjected to the same ringtone as the protagonist of a Twilight Zone vignette, until the end when you’re faced with certain consequences of your character’s actions.
All of this is presented through the lens of socially relevant issues, like the crunch culture at major video game studios. The subject isn’t treated with the greatest nuance, but it’s approached from the same obliquely critical perspective that makes cultural commentary accessible and acceptable to those who might not expect it in a VR game.
I know I’m vague here, but that’s intentional; much of the Twilight Zone and its VR counterpart relies on the unexpected and the unknown. Spoiling a twist or story-inspired choice here would be doing you a real disservice, as it doesn’t bring much else to the table.
Should we cross the Twilight Zone?
The Twilight Zone VR is mechanically simple, sometimes even bad, but it also harnesses the same thrilling twists and palm-sweating moments as the original show. If you’re looking for something that brings you into a gamer experience, 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. Walk through this iconic white door in search of absurd and subversive scares, and you won’t be disappointed.