Originally released on the HTC Vive, The Brookhaven Experiment finds itself the most intense, exhilarating, and downright scary game on the PlayStation VR. The premise is simple, defend yourself against waves of grotesquely mutated beings. Players are constantly being threatened from a full 360 degrees. On the HTC Vive, this was accomplished easily due to the nature of the hardware and multi-camera setup, but PSVR only uses a front-facing camera making this a tougher task to solve. In theory, you could try and aim directly behind you (or shoot over your shoulder), but more than likely the camera will lose focus on the dual Move controllers you are holding. Instead, developer Phosphor Games has included an 180-degree turn button for quickly rotating around. I found this method to work well enough, but also adds to the already tense nature of the game.
Finding yourself alone in some of the eeriest and darkest locations, you are equipped with a flashlight in one hand and a gun in another. At any point, you can swap out the flashlight for a knife, which comes in handy if you run out of ammo; and you will. There are subtle differences to how you hold each Move controller, with the flashlight needing to be horizontal (think of it as a traditional flashlight), but the gun is held vertical as if you were holding the grip of a handgun. With the classic shotgun included in the game, your grip will change to a horizontal one. It’s a small touch, but one I appreciated. The weapon can be swapped out by pressing the Move button for any throwable items you may have in your inventory.
As I mentioned earlier, the game features an 180 turn button. The screen briefly fades to black as it transitions, helping to alleviate any concerns with motion sickness. It’s the fraction of a second that you lose sight of your surroundings, that adds just a touch of additional tension. I’ll admit, I’ve been scared a few times while playing due to turning around and coming face to face with an unholy creature.
There are multiple waves to each level, and if you succumb to your wounds during the campaign, you are forced to replay the level from the start. You’ll want to conserve ammo where you can, and headshots can quickly down the zombie-like enemies. With that said, you can blow off limbs, but it will only slow them down. Blow a leg clean off, and the monster will slowly crawl towards you in a very menacing fashion. Between waves you are graded based on your performance, allowing you to pick between unlocked weapons, heal, or replenish your ammo. I made the mistake of not opting for ammo a few times due to carelessness and began the next wave with less than a full clip. You can imagine how that turned out. Throughout the levels, you’ll be treated to audio tidbits on what happened at Brookhaven, namely where the creatures that you are killing come from. Keep an eye out for the background during waves, as you’ll see massive monsters lurk between buildings and the environment.
You’ll want to play through the campaign at least once, which should last you a few hours depending on how many times you are killed. Afterward, you’ll be spending the majority of your time in the wave-based survival mode. It’s quite similar to the campaign; however, it features an endless number of waves to complete. Instead of finding unlockables in the levels like during the campaign, you earn points to spend on upgrades based on your performance. From better handguns, classic revolvers, machines guns to varying types of throwable items, you can fully customize your loadout. I enjoy tossing the occasional explosive grenade, but you may want to think about setting defensive items behind you at all times. Better safe than sorry. There are a bunch of additional items to upgrade your equipment, such as adding a flashlight to your weapon or increasing the clip size.
But how does the actual gameplay mechanics feel? By now, everyone should be aware of the current firmware bug surrounding rest mode. When playing with a fresh restart, the aiming felt precise. Pulling off headshots felt natural, and I didn't find myself blindly firing until I became surrounded by foes on all sides. The tracking fairs much better here than in other launch titles, and considering the content of the game requires precision, I was glad that I could lose based on my lack of skill and not by an issue with the software failing to track my movements.
As Sony has yet to add visual notifications in VR (only an audio cue plays), Phosphor Games has included their own popup for when you unlock trophies. It's another small touch and one that is greatly appreciated.
The Brookhaven Experiment is an enjoyable first-person shooter if you have the stomach for slaughtering countless creatures threatening you from all sides. You are always feeling helpless, with only your flashlight and single weapon to survive. While a cooperative mode could have been an intriguing concept with players being placed back to back, attempting to improve your score should keep players entertained in the survival mode.
Note: The review for The Brookhaven Experiment is based on a digital PlayStation VR copy of the game, provided by the publisher.