Bitsummit: Stifled Preview – Walk Softly (PSVR)

When your first hint that a game exists is nearby screaming players, that can’t be bad, right? While sitting down with a game next to it at Bitsummit, I heard Stifled make its first two players of the day raise their voices in terror.

You might not expect that, given Stifled‘s white-on-black world, but hey, I can’t deny what I was hearing.

Speaking of hearing stuff, in Stifled, sound is the only way players can see anything. Sound waves generated by the in-game character and real-life player provide a view of the surroundings. You’ll want to move through the world making enough noise to see, but not so much that horrifying creatures hear you and come for your soul. Keeping that noise level in check might not always be easy when you know there’s some kind of god-knows-what just around the corner from you.

When I put the headset on myself, I have to admit my knees wobbled a little bit and I felt a touch more uncomfortable than I do with other VR games; luckily, my body did eventually acclimate. Sadly, a show floor wasn’t the ideal setting for Stifled. In a horror game, the best setting is probably one’s own living room, or at least somewhere quiet. The hustle and noise of a gaming convention took a little bit away from the atmosphere Gattai Games created here; I could only suspend so much disbelief, through no fault of the game’s.

Nevertheless, there was legitimate fear when I knew a monster was near. My instinct to get the hell out of town conflicted with my need to stay quiet.

There wasn’t much more to the demo than that, but it served its purpose: I was shown a game world unlike any I’d been in, doing something I’d never done. Stifled is planned for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, and PC within 2017, supporting the virtual reality headsets Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PSVR.