As I look to the pile of words below this intro I realize it may be a good idea to split up this week’s digest. Today, I’ll be talking about my time with Resident Evil 7 on Playstation VR. Later, I’ll share my thoughts on Dishonored 2, Little Nightmares, The Old Republic’s new expansion, plus some other tidbits, most likely in a more condensed form.
Resident Evil 7 “Lantern” demo in VR – Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 preview cycle has been a weird one so far. First, they released a surprise demo called Beginning Hour. That demo seemed to ape developer Hideo Kojima’s P.T., which acted as a playable teaser for the now-cancelled Silent Hills. Like P.T., Beginning Hour ignores the traditional gameplay of its survival horror brethren, featuring gameplay that’s more in line with modern indie horror games like Outlast and SOMA.
From there, Capcom had to go on a bit of damage control, explaining that RE7 wasn’t going to be as simplistic as the demo implied. They seem to be advertising RE7 as a first-person reinvention of the series the same way RE4 reinvented it with an over-the-shoulder perspective. There will still be weapons, inventory management, exploration, and puzzles, despite what the demo seems to imply.
At New York Comic Con this weekend, I played an entirely new demo of the game, this time, featuring gameplay that is to be featured in the full game. Strangely though, once again it was a simplified experience very similar to the Beginning Hour demo. A Capcom rep informed me that sequences like these would be peppered throughout RE7 in the form of collectible tapes.
As strange as it was to play yet another demo that isn’t reflective of the true RE7 experience, I have to say, I haven’t been able to get this demo out of my head. That may be because I played the demo using the Playstation VR.
I also got pretty dizzy…so there’s that.
Resident Evil 7 gives players full twin-stick first-person controls on top of the ability to look around using headtracking. The amount of control and immersion this control scheme creates is impressive. I was able to quickly and easily move through the environment, sneaking away from threats and peering out from between cracks in wood walls. It felt natural and real and I wanted more, but Capcom seriously has to solve the motion sickness issues if it plans to ship this as a final control scheme.
The demo offered a less immersive but more gentle control scheme as well. It works more or less the same, except you turn using instant 30-degree jumps to the left or right. For me, this control scheme is a nice feature, but the smooth turning was so much more immersive that I’d rather build up my VR legs and battle the motion sickness than compromise the experience.
Despite the fact that I spent the next hour or so swimming around the convention with an unpleasant sick feeling in my stomach, I still loved what I played. Like I said, I can’t stop thinking about it. Even if the concept — in which you are a little girl pursued by the psychotic mother of the RE7’s mascot family — hasn’t totally sold me, I couldn’t get over the atmosphere. People are going to be able to make some incredibly creepy sequences in VR that weren’t possible before, and RE7 feels like the tip of the iceberg in this regard.
Even something as simple as peering out into a dark forest has an undeniably creepy quality to it. Better yet, the concept of being pursued is made so much stronger by your ability to physically lean around corners, peak through cracks in walls, and duck for cover as your assailant spins around.
I was cautiously optimistic about Resident Evil 7’s new direction, but that, combined with VR may have pushed me over the edge. With a PSVR already in the mail and arriving shortly, it’s hard to imagine skipping out in RE7, even if it doesn’t succeed at everything it’s trying to do. Hopefully it doesn’t make me too ill in the process.