‘Bring to Light’ uses custom AI to deliver horrifying moments when players least expect it.
“We can actually put whispers at the nape of your neck,” says Red Meat Games owner Keith Makse, laughing as he describes his latest VR title, Bring to Light, to CBC News.
A psychological VR horror experience available for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PC, Bring to Light utilizes heart rate monitor technology to deliver an immersive horror experience unlike any other.
The sole survivor of a terrible railcar accident, players are forced to navigate an abandoned network of subway tunnels in desperate search of an exit to the surface. Various puzzles revolving around the redirection of light are scattered throughout the vast metro, each leading the player a step closer to either salvation or doom. As if this weren’t bad enough, the creepy underground system is haunted by a variety of evil creatures and demonic spirits, all of whom are able to strike the exact moment you let your guard down.
Utilizing standard heart rate monitor devices (currently only the Scosche Rhythm and the Polar H10 are compatible), Bring to Light is able to track players biometric data and change the game accordingly via custom AI technology. This means that as you start calm to calm down within the experience, the AI knows to increase the spookiness in order to compensate.
“When it’s low, that’s when we know we can … dial up the creep factor and have jump scares and have things that crawl and slither, or doors shaking when you walk past them,” continues Makse. “It will actually reflect in your heart rate very quickly.”
That being said, Makse and his team are out to entertain, not to kill. If the heart rate system notices your levels reaching noticably high levels, the experience will immediately dial back the terror for an appropriate stress level. You’re also free to play the game without a heart monitor entirely for a more conventional VR experience.
“We’re nice people. We’re not going to let you have a heart attack.”
“We’ve really looked at the ethics of the gaming side with a heart rate monitor and making sure that at the end of the day, the player is safe,” adds Judy Ehrentraut, a PhD student at the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute assisting Makse on the project.
“Meanwhile, I just curl up into a fetal position and cry. And then in VR, it’s wonderful because even though you have this headset you can take off, I just close my eyes while I’m in there. And I still listen to the horrible things that are eating my flesh.”
Bring to Light launched Friday the 13th on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for $20. Players can enjoy the experience with or without a VR headset via the PC. Makse hopes the experience will eventually make its way onto other major headsets, such as the PS VR, in the near future.
Image Credit: Red Meat Games