Sandbox VR provides immersive zombie-hunting fun this Halloween season

There’s no shortage of haunted houses popping up during the Halloween season where horror fans are chased and scared by all sorts of creatures of the night.

But, there’s a new action-horror experience coming to a couple of Southern California cities this year for those who aren’t looking to run away from the undead, but rather come face to face with zombies while donning tactical gear and an arsenal of weapons in an attempt to save the world … a virtual world.

“You and your friends are dropped into Deadwood Valley, which has been overrun by zombie hoards and you have a mission, which is to save a scientist and his wife who have the antibodies to save humanity,” said Josh Cole, senior vice president of marketing for Sandbox VR. The company offers virtual reality gaming experiences — like its latest, Deadwood Valley — and allows guests to play inside those virtual worlds by strapping all sorts of technical gear on players and placing them inside large rooms as their avatars jump into action.

Players gear up with motion sensor equipment and goggles at Sandbox VR, which offers virtual reality games including the horror-themed Deadwood Valley. (Photo courtesy Sandbox VR)

“You’re protecting this scientist as you’re being attacked on all sides from below and above by zombies,” Cole explained.

It’s like a game of Laser Tag, but inside an elaborately detailed, virtual world. Each player can see the others inside the game and they can talk to and interact with one another, as well as physically feel the elements of battle as they fight their way through the zombie apocalypse.

How it Works

Founded in 2016, Sandbox VR operates 26 locations in five countries, with local game rooms located in Woodland Hills and Cerritos. The players strap on a VR headset and goggles, as well as motion sensors on their wrists and ankles. They’ll also wear a haptic vest, which creates vibrations to add to the realistic feel of the interactive world.

“So when a zombie comes in and maybe hits you, you feel like you’re being hit,” Cole said, describing one of the functions of the vest.

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Then players get to choose from an assortment of rifles, shotguns and other weapons before they’re put in a room for battle. These spaces are full of cameras that capture the player’s full body movements, which means all gamers can see each other’s avatars clearly in virtual space.

“Once the lights go off and the VR comes on, you’re in a whole other world,” Cole said. “It’s fully immersive. You see and feel everything and it’s happening all around you. You’re being attacked from above, from below, from all around. So it’s truly 360 degrees of action that you’re in the middle of.”

The Games

Once inside Deadwood Valley players go through the town destroying zombies, at one point even jumping in the back of a truck as zombies try to climb on and attack. Eventually, players end up in a rural area where they’re faced with the do-or-die option of either saving the scientist or ending humanity.

“You’re the hero of your own movie or video game,” Cole said. “You’re determining the outcome with your friends.”

Deadwood Valley isn’t the only world that players can conquer, as there are a total of six approximately 30-minute long original games offered at Sandbox VR. Those include Deadwood Mansion, the original version of Deadwood Valley, which takes place inside of a house rather than a town. There’s also an alien adventure called Amber Sky 2088, where players defend Earth against an alien swarm.

For the Trekkies, there’s Star Trek: Discovery, a game in which the players are Starfleet officers in the U.S.S. Discovery investigating a distress signal from an alien world. Gamers are equipped with phasers, a tricorder and you’ll even stand on a transporter pad and get beamed to your mission.

Though the games are for players of all ages, Cole recommends the Curse of Davy Jones for younger kids. That game uses more cartoon-style visuals and players fight sea creatures with swords and pirate pistols as they hunt for Davy Jones’ treasure.

And while all the games are geared towards cooperative team play, players can also fight each other in UFL, the Unbound Fighting League, a player versus player game using weapons like tridents, a laser sword and a shield.

Cole said that one doesn’t have to be a pro gamer to do well in these virtual experiences.

“When you come to our venue, it’s so easy because your body is your controller, you’re holding something, you’re moving and you’re kicking,” he said.

Sandbox VR

Where: The Village at Westfield Topanga, 6316 Topanga Canyon Blvd., #1120, Woodland Hills and Los Cerritos Center, 454 Los Cerritos Center, Suite E13, Cerritos.

Hours: Various time slots available 11:20 a.m.-10:55 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and noon-11:35 p.m. Fridays-Sundays in Woodland Hills; 11 a.m.-10:15 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays in Cerritos.

Cost: $50 per person Mondays-Thursdays; $55 per person Fridays-Sundays.

More information: 818-963-8003 for Woodland Hills and 562-888-8753 for Cerritos or

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