App Review: Spirit Board VR Teaches the Perils and Dangers of Summoning Spirits
Updated October 16, 2017 If you've ever been tempted by the dark arts and tried to summon a spirit from the afterlife with a handy dandy Ouija Board, Spirit Board VR is both a great way for you to safely explore the supernatural and a cautionary tale because oh my god why would you do that.
Daniel Scarpelli's Spirit Board VR is available on iOS and Android for Cardboard and compatible headsets. The game invites you to summon spirits through an Ouija board and learn about their motivations. The description recommends a Swivel chair since you'll likely be tempted to make sure nothing's behind you, but you only have to turn a little to go between the questions and board. The setting, Malthus Manor, has all the elements of a classic haunted house and by looking an the appropriate text, you welcome a spirit into the manor and get to ask them questions.
You operate Spirit Board VR by looking at text that appears on the screen.
Spirit Board excels at creating an eerie atmosphere and transforming the setting with each particular spirit, giving them each a distinct personality. One will pull the chair in front of you and light the room with a blinding blue light. Another will fill the room with ominous fog. I had an intense "this was a mistake" moment when one of the spirit blew out all the candle lights.
The sounds—a fireplace crackling, a mysterious door opening, or the screams of the damned—will make you want to apologize for bothering these nice spirits. If you mute this, you'll be missing out on half of the game's intensity. These immediately set a unique tone for each interaction that leaves you wondering what the next answer will bring and whether you're dealing with a benevolent or malicious ghost. Here's a tip: most of them want to steal your soul.
The ghosts you encounter in Spirit Board VR aren't going to be the friendly sort.
The questions you ask don't appear to have a strong influence on the direction, meaning there's no way to save yourself by asking the "right" questions. Unless you count general politeness, which dictates you should ask someone for their name before you ask how you're going to die. (Don't be rude!) The ending is usually some sort of terrible doom, but that's what invite when you break out out the spirit boards.
You don't have control over the spirits you see in this Ouija board-like VR app.
The game gives just as much detail to the characters, like Gerik, who told me I would die soon, Tobias from 563 BC, or Daimon who's, you guessed it, a demon. They not only have their own histories and styles, they also have preferred methods of taking your soul. With a wide variety of questions, you quickly learn to pick out the "safer" ones.
If you're feeling tense, you might opt for something like "Where are you from?" instead of "Am I disturbing you?" or "Are you alone?" This allows the user to control the story's pacing, which makes it even more tense as these heavier questions gradually become unavoidable. While you might get some repeats, there are also enough spirits in the game to keep you entertained for a while. And really, the overlying moral of this game should be that spirits are not to be messed with.
Pros: Great sounds, visuals, many spirit storylines.
Cons: Cost ($1.99), repetitive.--Charline Jao, GearBrain's VR intern, last reviewed Ninja VR's Weeping Angel app. She's passionate about VR and how the technology is challenging the idea of narrative and filmmaking.