Virtual reality is an excellent tool for horror game because when you wear a VR headset, it feels like you’re transported to another world. You can look and move around in full 360-degrees, reach out and touch things, and hear every whisper from all directions. But what about AR horror games?
Instead of transporting you to another world — a place you can easily remind yourself is fake — AR horror games instead invade your real world. With Night Terrors: Bloody Mary from Imprezario Entertainment, that’s accomplished by peering through your smartphone as if it’s a window into an alternate version of your world that reveals ghosts, possessed beings, and more, but that’s just the beginning of what’s possible for AR gaming.
Night Terrors: Bloody Mary is a follow-up to 2016’s Night Terrors: The Beginning. It’s out now for iOS and Android for cost $2.99. T The original app was only about 10 minutes long and the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. Bloody Mary clocks in at almost a full hour of purely terrifying AR immersion.
Acclaimed film director, producer, and screenwriter, Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity, Insidious), is the executive producer on the project and brings a long history of experience with Hollywood-caliber horror experiences.
“Throughout my career, I’ve prided myself on storytelling and exploring innovative perspectives to deliver some of the most electrifying moments in film,” said Peli in a prepared statement. “Night Terrors: Bloody Mary is enabling me to work wit ha new creative medium that will bring the narrative to users in t heir own homes, this time through their mobile device. I can think of nothing more horrifying, so I could not be more thrilled to be at the forefront of this emerging entertainment technology.”
Night Terrors: Bloody Mary is all about the titular urban legend that most everyone is familiar with and aims to bring her haunting ways into your actual home using your phone’s camera, LED light, 360 audio, and other core systems.
I spoke with Imprezario Entertainment cofounders Brett Tomberlin and Bryce Katz about the upcoming release. Tomberlin explained that they wanted to go beyond simple game characters on a screen superimposed onto a picture of your room because that just isn’t scary.
“For Night Terrors we filmed real actors that used makeup artists and actual wardrobes,” explained Tomberlin. “This doesn’t feel like Pokemon plastered onto your environment at all — we wanted to really bring it to life.”
One of the ways they’re doing that is by trying to make it look and feel as realistic as possible. In fact, maybe even a bit too realistic. According to Tomberlin and Katz, Apple originally turned down Bloody Mary because it was “too real” according to who reviewed the app.
“Some of the fake texts and messages that came through while you’re playing really do seem real,” said Katz. “That was the whole point, but it was too much. They actually established a new rule after we met with them…saying that you can’t replicate the iOS UI look. They don’t want users thinking their actual contacts are in trouble.”
One of the main ways that Bloody Mary messes with players is by faking things like Amber Alerts, text messages, Facetime calls, and more. It uses your phone not only as a portal to another world, but it grounds you by not only reminding you that it’s a phone, but by making that phone feel like a part of both worlds.
What stood out to me the most during the whole conversation is when Tomberlin explains the ultimate goal for Bloody Mary. Whereas current horror movies make you afraid of the unnatural and surreal, their goal here is “make people afraid of their own homes.”
This is the first of many planned AR horror adventures, with another due out in just a few months. The idea, according to Tomberlin and Katz, is to establish Night Terrors as a sort of platform for AR horror storytelling and Bloody Mary is off to a good start.
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