The Exit 8 VR Leaves You Nervously Lost In Tokyo’s Underground Sprawl All Over Again

The Exit 8 VR is an immersive port of the indie hit that leaves you feeling more unnerved than ever.

Having recently flown home to Japan after a few months back in the UK, I had a lot of stuff to do to ensure I could return to routine. Naturally, this meant taking the train often to get about and, after a few months away, getting lost. A lot. As the long tiled walkway of the underground Tokyo stations looped seemingly endlessly before me, I felt almost trapped in a loop as I desperately searched for the exit. Only when you look closely does the rudimentary repetitiveness of these never-ending corridors reveal the more unusual things you once overlooked. My, that’s a weird poster isn’t it?

Remember, no smoking in the station!

The Exit 8 VR is a port of the indie hit that went viral last year, in part thanks to the mass adoption by streamers. It’s a simple concept of wandering endless repeating corridors, reacting to jump scares and anomalies that veer from the norm to reach your exit.

It was a short but intense experience. Cheap enough that just about anyone could pick it up and drop an hour into it to make it to the end, yet varied enough for repeat attempts with countless surprises at every corner. And let’s be real: everyone has at least a slight fascination with seemingly endless liminal spaces that tether the line between the real and the impossible. The Tokyo underground train system looks instantly recognizable, but nothing could prepare you for what lurks around the next corner.

MyDearest, best known for Dyschronia: Chronos Alternative and the upcoming Brazen Blaze, has ported the solo development efforts of Kotake Create to VR. The result is a natural fit for Quest that elevates the unease of this experience. Having spent more than a bit of time wandering through Tokyo’s vast train system in recent days, that tension was only heightened as I wore the headset, returning to a location instantly familiar yet distinctly ‘off’. Being instantly dropped into the desperate search for an exit without a title screen greeting you makes you feel like you ended up somewhere you weren’t supposed to. In such an immersive space where that’s all you can see, it certainly leaves you uneasy.

Kindly exit through Exit 8, if you can

While The Exit 8 was never a scary game per se, it was certainly vivd, and that’s only elevated in this new release. When escaping requires looking all around you for anything off, being able to freely move around the space to check the backs of overhead signs, faces of the salaryman drones, and posters on all sides leaves you meticulous in a search for even the tiniest anomaly.

Some are more subtle, and you certainly won’t find every one of them, but all it takes is the glance of a businessman who usually ignores you to raise the heartbeat. When it’s something more drastic, like black goop seeping from an air vent, a poster replaced with a face that would feel at home in a creepypasta, or an overabundance of warning posters littered across the environment, it raises the hair on your neck.

Because the appeal isn’t to be scared, but to desperately seek a way out that suddenly, everything is suspicious. You look intensely at a poster for a dog groomer, expecting to find the tiniest mistake and you second-guess yourself. The moment you do escape is a moment of sheer relief.

The Exit 8 was always a good but brief experience, and it’s further enhanced by VR’s immersion. I played this VR version again before one trip into the city, and the playthrough memories caused my heart to race as I entered the underground of Tokyo’s Nogizaka Station. Going up the steps at the wrong end of the station towards the wrong exit required me to walk a long corridor the length of the platform in order to reach the end and my true exit. By the halfway point, when I couldn’t see the entrance or the end of the hall, only the endlessly repeating tiled walls I’d witnessed mere hours earlier in VR, I felt tense and uncomfortable. I was checking the walls and signs, just to see if I needed to turn back.

Not a screenshot from The Exit 8 VR, this is Nogizaka Station in Tokyo

I’m sure if anyone came down the corridor towards me, I would have been ready to run backwards as fast as I could. I made it out in the end, but maybe next time, I won’t be so lucky.

The Exit 8 VR arrives on the Meta Quest platform on July 11, 2024.

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