As I approached the Capcom booth, I was filled with both excitement and apprehension. The day before the meeting, the publisher showed off the next chapter of the Resident Evil series. The gameplay demo, which used PlayStation VR (PSVR), was already a terrifying experience on the big screen in the Shrine Auditorium, and I was about to try it out for myself in full immersion.
Afraid Of The Dark
I don’t like jump scares. Not one bit. I said something similar to the Capcom PR representative as he led me into the makeshift house where the company held the Resident Evil VII demo sessions on the show floor. I told him to let me know when a jump scare was about to happen. Otherwise, I would need to excuse myself, find the nearest clothing store, and buy a new pair of jeans. He briefly chuckled and agreed to notify me of a scare in advance. With that, I sat down and put the PSVR headset on my face.
The demo started on the floor in a living room. The house was dark and decrepit. Save for the static noise coming from the TV, it was eerily quiet. The objective was simple: Escape the house. To do so meant that I had to explore the area to find a key that opened the back door of the house. Armed with a flashlight, I proceeded to walk around.
It looked like the place had been abandoned for years. A large closet blocked the front door, the wallpaper was decaying, and the kitchen was a mess. The details were graphically astounding.
The second floor was just a small room with a few mannequins. At one point, I actually explored the room and then proceeded to turn back to head to the first floor, but it turns out that one of the mannequins somehow moved from its original position to block my path. I let out a slight yelp followed by a word not suitable for publication.
After that slight scare, I continuously asked my PR rep if a jump scare was coming soon. I was already scared before the demo, but now I was terrified that something or someone would jump out at me at any moment. When he did warn me of some upcoming scares, I lifted the headset above my head and saw the terrifying moment on the TV screen in front me. Even though I didn’t view it in VR, I was still freaking out.
A Sickening Feeling
I usually don’t get nauseous in VR. It’s happened just once when I played Minecraft in VR at the Xbox Spring Showcase. However, just the simple movement of walking around the house while looking at all of its details made me light-headed to the point where I actually had to take off the headset for a few minutes.
A woman who took care of the PSVR device then handed me a piece of Jolly Rancher hard candy. Each booth had its own bowl of hard candy just in case the player felt light-headed. In fact, my PR rep told me that many participants had similar issues earlier in the day. With Capcom planning to release Resident Evil VII as a fully playable VR title (alongside the console and PC versions), the nausea issue needs to be fixed so that most players don’t end up vomiting while subjected to a scary environment.
After some guidance on where to go in the demo, I eventually found a VHS tape that showed a camera crew entering the house for a TV show. As it turns out, they suffered a worse fate than I did, but I was determined to get out. However, the video revealed the location of the key to the back door. It was dropped by the camera crew as they explored a hidden room next to the living room. I found the switch (it was inside the fireplace) to open the door to the secret passage, grabbed the key, and dashed out to the back door.
As I opened the door, the camera turned around. A man, who appeared out of nowhere, grabbed me and punched me in the face. Once again, I yelled and cursed, but thankfully, the demo was over.
The fact that this type of feeling is possible in VR is astounding. With the exception of the sounds coming from other booths on the show floor, I was totally immersed in the experience. I was terrified, but also curious as to what happened to this house. At one point, I was actually more focused on solving the mystery of the abandoned house rather than worrying about what could jump out from the next corner.
Horror fans are going to love this experience, hands down. The atmosphere created by the spooky surroundings and grotesque details is one that fans of the series shouldn’t miss. We’ll wait and see how actual gameplay from Resident Evil VII stacks up in VR, but if it’s anything like what I saw at E3, we’re in for a scary ride.
|Name||Resident Evil 7|
|Platforms||PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Xbox One|
|Release Date||January 24, 2017|
|Where To Buy|