Okay, I’m sure you’ve heard quite plenty about Resident Evil VII from me, but I feel like with PSVR now on the scene, it’s time I share my experiences not only with the game itself, but how Sony’s divisive new VR platform brings the horror even closer to life too.
If you’d prefer a tl;dr, you’ll find it in the below image; now enjoy it, have a little chuckle over the demise of what is left of my masculinity, send me an abusive Tweet and carry on with your lives.
Or, if you prefer a moving display of embarassment, apparently I was pathetic enough to be one of a handful selected for public shaming on Twitter…
— Resident Evil (@RE_Games) September 25, 2016
Swiftly moving on… Having played quite a fair few different games on PSVR and VR platforms in general, I can safely say my time with RE7 using PSVR is absolutely one of the best adverts for the newly-released peripheral. It’s very well known that PSVR is targeted at the average consumer rather than the top-tier hardcore gamers with maxed-out setups, with the entire hardware being something of a step below its fellow VR platforms such as Vive and Oculus. Is this a bad thing? Not entirely. With a lower value comes a lower retail price, resulting in a much more “accessible” piece of kit, and for the average gamer, this is all the VR goodness you’ll feel you need at an affordable price point.
Sure, PSVR doesn’t allow for the level of immersion, activity and tracking that something like the Vive does, but for what PSVR is there to do, it achieves its goals excellently. The RE7 PSVR demo I played was called “Lantern”, which drops the player into the shoes of a woman trying to escape from Marguerite Baker, an apparently deranged woman, one of multiple antagonists in the game who wants to capture you and presumably add you to her “family”.
Players spend most of their time wandering through an eerie and detailed building with deteriorating rooms, narrow, dimly-lit hallways and tight crawlspaces. However, Marguerite is doing just the same in search of the player, and on more than one occasion do paths cross and the player is forced to hide as the enraged madwoman wanders around the room screaming expletives before moving on. This game of cat-and-mouse eventually results in a frantic scramble through a crawlspace with the sound of Marguerite getting closer, before hitting a dead-end, the lights go out, and BAM she’s right in front of you, as evidenced by the dignified jump-scare reaction above…
The beauty of this demo was in the tension it was able to generate, the ultimate key to horror success. Jump scares are cool and all, but they’re cheap and overused in modern horror, so to experience a consistent state of fear with only one jump scare thrown into the mix is one hell of a gold star for the game. Now, this is nothing new for RE7, having played regular console demos without VR I can safely say the game is plenty capable of holding tension and suspense, but what PSVR did was exactly what it promised to do – it brought the game to life. No longer is it a scary game, it’s a scary experience. When you’re hiding behind a couple of wooden slats, peeking through the gaps in the fabric of the building, no longer are you hiding from Mrs Baker because you might have to go back to a checkpoint if she finds you, you’re hiding because OH MY GOODNESS SHE’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME PLEASE DON’T TURN AROUND I DON’T WANT TO DIE.
There’s a segment at the end after you get caught where you’re tied to a chair at the “family” dinner, which really puts the icing on the cake. Looking down and seeing your hands tied down exactly where they are IRL (because you’re holding a controller which is effectively binding your hands in place) effectively tricks your brain into believing what you’re seeing, meaning that when Lucas lobs a plate at you, despite it just being a game, you involuntarily duck out of the way. Not to mention when Jack goes to force feed you something so repulsive your stomach churns, never mind when he moves stick a knife in your eye… Watching the footage of my reactions alone is really quite fascinating, because the movements, the leans and the ducks almost immediately map out the rest of the table and what people are doing, as if you’re watching half a conversation, which is exactly what PSVR should be accomplishing.
The easiest way to sum up my experience of RE7 in PSVR is that, somehow, they’ve managed to achieve a golden mean between the two experiences. The high quality and crafstmanship of the base game doesn’t make the use of PSVR redundant, but the addition of PSVR manages to add enough to the experience to justify the additional cost, without making the base game feel “plain” and 2D. Don’t take my word for it though – if you have PSVR then try it for yourself, the demo is available for free on PS4 right now! Check it out and let us know what you think!
P.S. Shout out to Resident Evil CM Morgane for being awesome to chat with & letting me capture my reactions! Make sure to give her a follow for news, cosplays, community activity and all manner of cool Resident Evil stuffs!