Viveport Review: Kobold: Chapter 1
Kobold blends cinema and virtual reality to create a chilling and memorable horror experience.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
Kobold: Chapter 1 is the first installment in a horror series that thrusts players into the dark and creepy forests of Germany as they explore an abandoned villa on the quest for clues, answers, and the truth about a missing boy and his family. While the experience itself is outstanding, what really sets Kobold apart is the trans-media influences that it was built with, including a short film that explains the backstory for those looking to get more out of the entire experience.
Before diving into the game, I headed over to the game’s website, where I watched the short film that the developers created to go along with the virtual reality experience. While you can play the entire experience without watching the film, taking the time to watch the short movie they’ve put together will tell you more about the world and the secrets that hide within it. The film is only 15 minutes long and serves as a very good introduction to the world, so that you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
To help blur the line between the film and the virtual reality experience, the location in the film and the movie was recreated for the game using photogrammetry, which was used to meticulously capture the villa—a real location in Germany—and then transfer it to the game to give players the most realistic experience. The developers also captured the various actors using motion capture and advanced facial capture techniques to help bring each character to life as realistically as possible.
To be honest, that’s what makes Kobold such a chilling tale. While the story itself isn’t that long—this is only the first chapter—the techniques used to bring the world to life help create a dark and immersive story that sends shivers through your body. Each step that I took in the world was anxiety inducing because of the environments and atmosphere alone. What I liked the most, though, is that Kobold doesn’t rely on cheap thrills to scare the player.
Even if you take away the supernatural elements and the different characters you run into, Kobold’s beautiful and surreal world is good enough to induce anxiety all on its own, creating this skin-crawling sense as you explore the different hallways and rooms that lie within the abandoned villa as you strive to find the secrets behind Kaspar’s disappearance.
In fact, the only real negative to Kobold is the game’s various controls. They can be a bit clunky at times—especially the locomotion system—which can lead to things feeling a little jarring when you’re put into very intense situations. Aside from the clunky controls, though, Kobold stands high as a shining example of just how good trans-media can be, as the combination of the short film and the extensive details that translate to the actual virtual reality experience come together to create a unique and exceptionally well-crafted experience that I highly recommend for any horror fans out there.