Resident Evil is a huge gaming franchise and i’ve only played perhaps one of them, Code Veronica back in 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast. It was one of the best game i ever played back then but i did not play any of the others due to not having a games console for a while.
17 years later comes Resident Evil 7 and the only real reason I’m playing it is because the entire game can also be played on the PSVR, and I’m like quite enthusiastic about VR.
It helps that i am also a fan of the classic 80s slasher horrors such as Evil Dead because Resident Evil 7 moves quite a ways away from the zombie apocalypse and into Texas chain saw B-movie territory, which is refreshing and nostalgic at the same time. The lowish resolution of the PSVR also gives off a rather cool effect of being inside an 80s horror nightmare.
While there is not as much detail on screen as in the none VR mode, it’s still a delight to lean over up close to somethings and seeing maggots wiggling about, flies photos and other items that add to the atmosphere.
This is a game that might not necessarily have been created with the PSVR in mind, but is a great example of how experiences can be so different when immersed with a headset. For example there are moments where knives are thrust at your face and on a tv screen you just flinch and punch the game pad, but on a headset you find yourself physically ducking, leaning your head or jumping your whole body to the side out of pure reflex.
The worst experiences are when you know something is there but can’t see it. Those moments are more terrifying so far than any monster thats yet to appear. I watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the big screen also in 2000 and after i noted to my friend how it was like sitting through someones nightmare that you just could not wake up from. Resident Evil in PSVR is like experiencing the same sort of nightmare, luckily i can take off the headset and have a break every time i reach a Cassette save point. Its not long before i want to jump right back into the nightmare though :-p
My Brain got confused
While the game and story are so far awesome, there is a few niggling things about the experience in VR. For a start i love walking exploring VR games. I enjoy cockpit games too but there is nothing quite like getting the freedom to walk around exploring the environment and It was one of the main reason i fell in love with Robinson: The Journey. For these sorts of games i prefer to stand, i think it makes perfect sense that to play a game where you are a character walking around that your brain would feel more comfortable if you are stood up.
This is where my own personal preference for playing VR took issue with Resident Evil 7. The controls are set so that you can look around but you have to use the ‘Right gamepad stick’ to turn your character in the same manner as in Robinson: The Journey, with sudden jerks which is fine in VR but puke inducing for anyone watching on Twitch. The problem comes during moments of action or cut scenes. Because i am stood up, i often turn my whole body left or right not just my head, then proceed to push forward on the controller to head in the direction i turned.
Resident Evil’s VR mode does not account for this when action happens and displays it as such from the direction of the PS4’s camera. So for instance i can be walking along, see something to my right, turn my body to face that direction and move forward with the game pad. Suddenly an action moment occurs, either birds flying, or a person jumping out and the game switches to present that action from the direction of the camera leaving me looking at a bush wondering what the hell is going on.
I must point out i haven’t felt sick while playing Resident Evil on PSVR, and once i realised what was causing the direction confusion, i started to take more care in what direction i was facing. It means every now and then i have to reposition myself towards the PS4 Camera if i want action to seamlessly happen from the right direction. It’s as if The VR Mode assumes you are going to be sat facing the same direction for the entire experience, but my brain along with my body when standing wants to be free to move around.
Not so scary… yet
I have jumped a few times, and tried to hide in a bucket, but so far I’ve not been to terrified. Instead i’ve been quoting Ash from evil dead and occasionally laughing at the splatter gore, but I’m only one hour into the game though and i’ve read comments that worst is yet to come.
As an extra note, i also got the special 4D Resident Evil VR Candle thats supposed to help you get more immersed by giving off an unpleasant smell of rotting wood and blood. It actually smelled quite pleasant, reminding me of an old scout camp cottage i used to visit in my youth out in the middle of the woods. I hope this isn’t some kinda repressed memory thing going on here….