Resident Evil 7: Biohazard thrives in VR, delivering what could be the best case for the PSVR to date.
Following this last Week’s PlayStation Experience in San Francisco, California, Capcom announced that Resident Evil 7’s Beginning Hour demo had finally received its third update, bringing full PSVR support to the terrifying teaser for the game, which is currently slated to see its full release on January 24. 2017. Having spent several hours exploring the eerie plantation with my head planted firmly in my headset, I’m convinced that Resident Evil 7 makes one hell of a horrifying case for the PSVR. And if this early introduction is any indication of what we can expect from the full game, Resident Evil 7 could very well be the peripheral’s first killer app.
Don’t get me wrong – even without the VR support, Resident Evil 7’s Beginning Hour demo has proven to be equally unsettling and fascinating, offering plenty of visceral scares and tantalizing mysteries that have grossed out and intrigued countless players. However, sliding your noggin into the PSVR and exploring the derelict plantation instantly dials up the tension to eleven.
Right from the outset, the sense of immersion is incredible. The addition of seamless head tracking allows you to really take in the small details as you effortlessly peer into every nook and cranny of the surprisingly lifelike estate. Even though I’ve played the demo countless times, the entire experience felt as fresh and visceral as the first time I woke up in that dimly-lit room filled with the sound of TV static. I even found myself cautiously craning my neck to peer around doors and corners, or crouching down to further investigate the contents of dressers, cabinets, and other areas in search of secrets hidden in the environment.
Resident Evil 7 may not have been designed from the ground up as a virtual reality experience, but it’s hard to imagine to playing it sans headset after you’ve experienced the added sense of immersion the medium provides. When combined with a decent set of surround sound headphones you’ll feel instantly inserted into the game’s rotting world. And while many VR titles suffer from some jarring aliasing and a lack of visual clarity, Capcom has really managed to refine the title in such a way that it looks absolutely stellar despite the hardware’s limitations. Little touches, from the dust on bookshelves to the weathered upholstery on the aging furniture looks believable. Hell, I even found myself tempted to swat the flies out of my face as they swarmed over the stagnant water pooling in the kitchen sink. Every last detail, from the glistening viscera of a horse that’s been split down the middle to the putrid puddles that ooze from a busted refrigerator all look delightfully disturbing – enough that those with a weak stomach may want to limit their play to the TV to avoid losing their lunch. Again, considering VR support is more or less an afterthought than a core component of Resident Evil 7, it’s really quite remarkable just how much VR feels like an integral part of the game’s experience.
Resident Evil 7 smartly allows players to choose between incremental snap-turns and the ability to freely rotate your player. And while I think the game feels fine with smooth controls, the addition of incremental turns will no doubt be a welcome addition for those who haven’t quite found their VR legs. Still, it remains to be seen if this control method will make combat in the full game feel a bit unwieldy.
While I’ve played the vast majority of the games to land on the PSVR since its October 13 release, none has managed to hold my attention quite the way this early taste of Resident Evil 7 has. Horror games are all about immersion and atmosphere, and while titles like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and Here They Lie do a solid job of using VR to enhance the tense atmosphere of these titles, their limited mechanics keep them from delivering a true survival horror experience. Resident Evil 7, on the other hand, plays on the strengths of VR to immerse the player in so much grit and gore that you’ll need a hot shower by the time you toss your headset off in a fit of fear. If that’s not a glowing endorsement of what virtual reality can do for the horror genre, I don’t know what is. Simply put, the PSVR makes Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour feel like a whole new game. It really adds that much, and encourages you to take in all of the finer details of the crumbling world around you. Virtual reality is all about making a player feel like a part of the game world, and in that regard the developer has succeeded effortlessly here; even more than any other game I’ve played on Sony’s headset.
If you’re a horror fan who’s been waiting for a game to make a compelling case for you to pick up a PSVR, it’s looking like Resident Evil 7 may have what it takes to justify the hardware’s hefty price tag. It enhances the gameplay in a meaningful way, making the player truly feel like a part of the game. Considering just how far detached the past few entries in the series have felt from the franchise’s horror roots, this added dose of dread really makes Resident Evil 7 shine in a way we almost forgot the series could. If the full game can deliver the raw thrills and tense atmosphere this vertical slice of sheer terror provides, survival horror fans will be in for a real treat when the game launches on January 24.
Those wanting to pre-order Resident Evil 7: Biohazard can do so now. Additionally, Capcom released a new trailer for the game shining some more backstory on the title. The new areas that the footage showcases look fantastic and horrifying. We also get a look at plenty of new creatures that are sure to make your skin crawl. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the trailer for yourself below:
So, have you had a chance to experience Resident Evil 7: Beginning Hour in VR yet? If so, what did you think of it? Do you think you’ll be playing through the game on your TV or on the PSVR? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to sound off in the comments and let us know.