I was standing in a grotty-looking hallway, a ghostly figure having just walked past me, when I said to myself, “F— this”, and took off my PlayStation VR Headset.
Resident Evil 7 is out later this month, completely playable from start to finish in virtual reality on PlayStation 4. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone has a heart attack whilst playing it.
I’ve played three Resident Evil 7 VR demos, each set in the scary house of the crazy Baker family from the main game. It the first demo, entitled “The Lantern” you are being pursued by Ma Baker as she rants to herself holding a lantern aloft. The experience is chilling, the sense of presence triggering primal survival instincts that override the fact that it is just a game. After a bit of cat and mouse, with the scary woman’s warty face often only inches from your own, the demo doesn’t end well.
The second demo, available to download from the PlayStation store, is called “Kitchen”. It starts with you tied up in the Baker’s Kitchen, whilst your colleague tries to untie himself. You never move from that chair, but the experience is just as unnerving- your senses screaming that you are really in the kitchen of that terrible house. As you’d expect, the demo, again, doesn’t end well.
Capcom have just updated their Resident Evil 7 Initial Hour demo to its final “Midnight” version, adding PSVR support. I’d already played an earlier version of the demo in on a TV, it was good, a bit unnerving, but… just a game.
Playing the same demo, albeit expanded and in virtual reality is a whole new ball game. First off, things that are a bit gross in 2D, like a fridge full of maggot-filled rotting meaty chunks, complete with stringy puss as you open the door, are downright stomach churningly disgusting in VR. The closet with the hanging string dolls is absolutely chilling. The blood-filled bath, the rotting cattle corpses – all bloody horrible. And that’s just the environment. This awful house is just the setting for a macabre tale that is a thousand times more disturbing when it feels like you are actually there.
Pulling the chain-cutters from the partially cut up cow laying in the hallway, I cut the chain locking the cupboard and picked up the video cassette. Going back to the initial room I put the video in the player and was transported back in time as the person recording the events on the video cassette.
I was cameraman for two erstwhile ghost hunters investigating/breaking into the house that I had been exploring. Listening to the dialogue between the two, the shorter cocky questioning my videography skills to his taller colleague, you just know thing are not going to go well.
After smashing open the front door. We enter the kitchen that I’d previously explored. Opening the fridge, it was still grotty, but the rotting chunks of meat were not present. Looking up at the investigators, I started to wonder what their fate would be.
As I listen to the short, cocky investigator, he notes that his taller companion has wondered off. We head into the room in which I started the demo. With his colleague nowhere to be found, he started looking around, clicking a switch that opened a secret room to other room between the walls.
The house was scary enough in VR, but this little room with an ominous-looking ladder down into the cellar, was a bit much. Almost on cue my companion suggested that I go first. His excuse was that I could then get a good shot of him descending the ladder.
With my back to the open cellar, I climbed down. Remember, as far as my senses were concerned I was actual descending into dark cellar of a very frightening house. Looking all around me, frantically, as I went down, I reached the bottom unscathed. Nothing grabbed me from the darkness.
I turned to look around the cellar. There was someone there. My heart skipped a beat. No, it was OK, it was our tall companion. He must have found his way down here another way. I approached him. He had his back to me facing the wall. My hair stood on end. Something was wrong, it looked weird. Very Blair Witch. I reached out and his head turned towards me. His lifeless face inches from my own, and his very dead body falling on top of me, knocking me down. There was someone else there.
The tape stopped and I was back watching the TV. Over by the fireplace I unlocked the secret door and crawled in the room between the walls. There was a key on the floor – the back door key. I picked it up. Looking towards the ladder down into the basement, I decided no, I’ll do that another time. Turning towards the door of the room I saw a figure, likely the sadistic Pa Baker I “met” for dinner at the “The Lantern” demo. He was as large as life, walking past the door, along the hallway. Peeking around the doorframe, of course, he was nowhere to be seen. “f—k this”, I thought.
With the exception of Outlast and Alien: Isolation, games don’t, generally, give me much of a fright. I’ve happily played tag with zombies in previous Resident Evil offerings, But Resident Evil 7, played in VR is going to need a health warning.
I can seriously see someone dying of fright come 24th of January 2017.
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