Tackling The Horrors Of Resident Evil 7 In VR

At this point, anybody that wants to play the Resident Evil 7 demo has done so. If you want to play it in VR, however, that’s a different story entirely, having only been shown on a handful of occasions and to only a relatively small number of people.

After the increasingly gun-heavy action of the last few main series games, this is a major change of pace. Waking up in an abandoned house clearly in need of renovations, if not demolition, it’s the classic haunted house. Except, unlike on Most Haunted, there is actually something to be scared of, which becomes abundantly clear as you explore.

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It’s not just creaky floorboards and mysteriously closing doors, but gutted pigs, split-second glimpses of other people, and more eventual horrors. A videotape fills in some of the story, explaining how you came to be in this house and why, but it only adds to your unease the first time playing through, and I don’t mind admitting I was eager to get out of the house, if entirely unsurprised by the way the demo ended.

Playing in VR was actually my first time experiencing this demo. However, this was a little bit different to the one first unveiled at E3 – emphasis on the ‘little’. In essence it’s the same, but the announcement was marred by complaints of motion sickness from those that played it, and it took just one “simple” change to alleviate those concerns for me. I’ve made no secret of my wariness of first person VR, but I’m coming around to the idea because of games like Resi 7, Robinson – The Journey and Farpoint.

That little trick, then. I don’t know what developers are calling it, but I’m dubbing it the 30° click. Instead of giving free and fluid motion on the right analogue stick, letting you effectively play the game as a traditional first person shooter on a TV screen, pushing the analogue stick to the right or left with snap your viewpoint in that direction by 30°. Click, and your viewpoint has shifted, click again and it’s gone further. Click, click.

Honestly, it sounds like a terrible idea. It sounds like something that will be more annoying and disruptive to the experience than conducive to good VR, but we’ve seen something similar before, with 90° shifts in perspective in games like The Assembly. What it does is train your subconscious to stop trying to use the right stick to look around.

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You’ve got a far wider range of motion and precision from moving your head, and in Resi 7, looking in a direction and pushing forward on the left analogue stick, moves you that direction. Your need to actually use the right stick to turn is limited to when you’re really turning around to head back the way you came or to explore a different part of the room. It takes a bit of getting used to, but with a slow walking pace, it works rather well and I thankfully didn’t feel any nausea.

But there’s a lot of question marks hanging over the game because of this. Resident Evil has, of late, featured a fair amount of action. Resi 7’s new direction seems, off the back of this demo and of The Kitchen that preceded it, to be venturing back toward the realms of psychological horror, of the creeping dread that you can get from exploring an old house that’s fallen into disrepair.

So when the ESRB rating comes back with mention of wielding guns, of mutants and mutilation, you have to wonder how much action there actually is. Capcom have said that the entire game can be played on both standard consoles and on VR and that the actual game is no different between the two, but reflexes and movement can be much quicker on a TV – the 30° click doesn’t really allow for running around and fast turning too well – and so fast enemies might be a no go for the game as a whole, not just on PS VR.

But just as I was jumping at shadows and warily peeking around corners as I played, perhaps I’m anticipating problems that simply aren’t going to be there. After the troubles that hampered it’s reveal, Resident Evil 7’s in VR has proven itself for me as a good experience in VR and another example of how well first person games can work in the system.

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2 Comments

  1. Great to hear capcom ironed out the movement. Looking forward to this. How are finding the screen and resolution in the PSVR?

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