Silent Hill meets Saw in this uniquely-crafted horror puzzler experience.
Last Labyrinth released worldwide on major VR headsets today and sufficeth to say AMATA K.K.’s escape-room-style experience is nothing short of horrific. Not in terms of quality; far from it in fact. The adventure puzzle experience is loaded with complex challenges and features a natural character interaction system that perfectly compliments the VR format. No, when I say “horrific,” I’m referencing the absolutely nightmarish consequences that come as a result of your failures. And I don’t know about you, but I fail a lot.
Tasked with escaping the confines of a mysterious mansion, Last Labyrinth begins with the player tied to a wheelchair — hands and legs bound together — inside a dark room; their only other company being a young girl who speaks an unrecognizable foreign language. Right off the bat, the immersive escape room experience sets itself apart from its contemporaries with its unique interaction system. Unable to physically move their legs or arms, players can trigger levers, activate switches, and interact with various other environmental elements by directing the young girl, Katia, to different positions throughout each room.
Of course, neither Katia nor the player can understand one another. As a result, players “communicate,” using a laser pointer attached to their head which allows them to guide the young companion towards specific objects. Before Katia performs each desired action, she’ll “ask” for confirmation by pointing at the object, at which point the player can either nod “yes” or “no” to complete the action.
These interactions range from opening doors and progressing through rooms, to pushing buttons and throwing levers in order to activate different chain reactions. Sometimes this involves aligning tracks to correctly redirect a toy train to a specific destination; other times it means navigating a series of deadly traps. Though I’ve only managed to tackle a handful of puzzles, so far I’ve come across a healthy variety of unique challenges, each more violent than the next. While the experience can sometimes slow down to a crawl during a few of the lengthier challenges, the comfortable, seated experience manages to keep you constantly engaged throughout, thanks in large part to its consistently-unsettling environments.
Last Labyrinth is creepy. Like, super creepy. Fans of Japanese horror will no doubt feel right at home skulking throughout the terrifying halls of the decrepit mansion alongside their younger companion. And herein lies my only serious complaint with the experience so far: child murder. Look, I’m all for developers trying to envoke a sense of dread and shock with their projects, but every so often an experience goes a bit too far in terms of its content. One of Last Labyrinth’s most defining elements is the gruesome deaths you and Katia are subject to as a result of failing certain puzzles. This can include everything from decapitation and impalement, to falling or being crushed to death.
In terms of you — the player — it’s a smart decision that adds more weight to your decisions, forcing you to be more strategic with each action you take and adding an additional level of immersion to the experience. Seeing as you’re confined to a wheelchair with no way of moving, your fate is completely dependent on your puzzle-solving skills. That being said, these gruesome deaths have an opposite effect when it comes to Katia. Call me crazy, but there’s something about watching a 10 to 12-year-old child getting repeatedly murdered in a variety of horrifying ways that tends to put me off.
In the context of the story, it makes sense having your companion, an NPC completely dependent on the player, be of a younger age. However, the choice to include this character in all the deaths was a decision best described as off-putting. Had the developers chosen to only kill the player, or at the very least increased the age of Katia, these sequences would have been much more tolerable.
All-in-all, Last Labyrinth is a quality escape-the-room-style experience that lends itself incredibly well to the VR format. It’s also refreshing to see a new quality horror experience on major headsets. While PC VR headsets have a fair share of adult-themed experiences already available, the PSVR and Oculus Quest are severely lacking in terms of scarier content. With the arrival of Last Labyrinth and Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted, it appears as though the VR horror genre is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Feature Image Credit: AMATA K.K.