I’m a wimp! There, I said it. I never did make it all the way through the dark, dank and terrifying tunnels of Dreadhalls when it debuted as a finalist in last year’s IndieCade VR Jam event. It was a finalist and, despite my inability to spend more than 5 minutes playing before yelping like a girl, one of my favourite entrants. It was also widely adopted by the YouTube community and their never-ending thirst for ‘hilarious‘ reaction vides involving the Oculus Rift.
Now, Dreadhalls is back and in development and on course for a commercial release late this year. Developer Sergio Hidalgo, who originally conceived and built the game in 3 weeks, in accordance with VR Jam’s rules, did a remarkable job infusing everything in Dreadhalls with claustrophobic dread. The visuals were perfunctory, but it didn’t really matter as the sound did a very respectable job of plunging you into the depths. It was a slow, considered and sparse experience – using it’s procedurally generated map and distant echoes of .. something it was a brilliant antidote to the cheap jump scares that comprised the majority of VR horror titles up to then.
The latest Dreadhalls demo has come along nicely since then. Now sporting new textures and an upgraded lighting model the new game looks great. But perhaps the feature we’re most interested in is that it’s now DK2 ready, meaning that if you’re lucky enough to have one of Oculus’ new developer kits on the way, it’ll support it straight away—head tracking included.
Sergio said of his plans for the new Dreadhalls; “You can expect more varied environments, new creatures and scary encounters, etc… I’m also working of having a longer experience that covers more than a single level, with a progression and more backstory.”.
We asked Sergio about launch date plans and whether he’s planning on releasing the demo to the public:
The full game still needs more work, but my idea is releasing it by the same time that the Oculus CV1 hits the market, so I plan to have it finished by Q3/Q4 this year. I can also tell you it will be exclusively for the Rift at launch. Whether I’ll release this demo or not depends on the feedback I get from the people I’ve sent it to, so it’s still undecided. However, if I choose not to release it, I’ll probably add positional tracking support to the already available VRJam version instead.
Finally, we asked Sergio how he tackled the challenges of implementing head tracking with no DK2s yet in the wild:
I wrote an article on this issue here. Basically I’m fading the image to black and muffling the sounds, but not limiting the player’s movements at any point, since I found out that leads to discomfort. I don’t have a DK2, but I had access to one for a couple of days thanks to Oculus, which is how I was able to test this out.
We hope to give this a proper playtest soon, but I’m already very much looking forward to one of my VR Jam favourites getting a full overhaul in time for Oculus’ consumer model. Frankly though, I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough to actually play it.
Head over to the official Dreadhalls website to find out more. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.