No menus, no instructions, and no artificial locomotion.
HOST is an insanely creepy room-scale VR experience set inside an alien organism, making it the perfect game to celebrate the 2022 Halloween season. Think of HOST as the Midsommer of VR games. If you’ve never seen that movie, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a total mind trip.
This is actually the second chapter in the ongoing HOST trilogy. What makes the game so different from other VR experiences is the fact that there are no menus or instructions. The instant the game starts you’re transported into the body of an alien creature. Surrounded by a maze of gigantic organs and intestines, it’s up to you to figure out the next steps.
To make things even more complicated, the game doesn’t feature any sort of artificial locomotion. Instead, you physically move around your room-scale space. By restricting your physical movement, the game induces a genuine sense of claustrophobia, an intentional decision on the developer’s part.
“I’ve always been terrified by the idea of being consumed alive,” said developer Garrett Fuselier. “HOST is an exploration of my megalophobia and pushes players to overcome the urge to escape, and instead go deeper. Thematically, Phase One of the game is about exploration and understanding your purpose, while Phase Two is all about power and control.”
Fuselier’s approach builds on fear of the unknown. By refusing to hold your hand, HOST becomes a better VR experience where the confusion is an intricate part of gameplay.
During an interview with VRScout, Fuselier tells me that, ultimately, HOST is a puzzle game where each puzzle requires a different approach. “I’ve gotten a bit of criticism for this, but I think the industry has trained us to interact with games a certain way,” adding, “The puzzles in HOST are hard because they work against that training, they untrain the player to just use their intuition and discover the answer.”
HOST: Phase Two is lengthy in a “Shakespearean way”, according to Fuselier: “Act 2 is always the longest, and the game kind of forces you to take a break. The game kind of quits itself.” His reasoning is that he hopes people will use that moment to process what just happened.
Key features include:
- Chilling ASMR-inspired sound design, created with top vocal work.
- Built for room-scale VR from the ground up.
- Designed for the spooky season, with dark visuals and gooey textures.
- Immersive puzzles that beg your curiosity and tear your mind apart.
- Only uses hands for the entire experience. No need to press buttons on the controller.
Fuselier believes that puzzle games are getting easier in general. He also believes that there is a large community out there like himself that enjoys more of a challenge.
“I think VR is the perfect medium for these types of games because so much of the real world is stripped away, you’re actually able to think on all cylinders. You’re able to try more things, beyond just pressing buttons, in order to solve it”
HOST: Phase Two is available now for $9.99 on Steam. Those who’ve already purchased Phase One can download Phase Two as a free update. It picks up directly where Phase One left off. HOST will remain in Early Access until the final phase is complete in Fall 2023.
Image Credit: Garrett Fuselier