As soon as I saw the lady on stage at PSX announce that the Beginning Hour demo was getting an update to add PSVR support I began downloading the patch. As a PSVR owner I’ve been keeping a close eye on RE7, sure I’ve been enjoying RIGS, Batman and The London Heist’s shooting ranges but these have all felt a little light, not quite AAA, my PSVR deserved something meatier.
RE7 on the other hand is an honest-to-God full AAA title and I had been enjoying it’s Kitchen demo in VR already, or rather I’ve been enjoying watching friends and family poop themselves while they played it, but that’s less than 5 minutes long and you can’t do much other than knock over a camera. And of course I enjoyed the earlier versions of the Beginning Hour demo, however I couldn’t help but wonder while I was playing it what it would be like in VR, now, for my sins, I have my answer.
When I put that headset on and booted up Beginning Hour, straight away it hit me, it was the sense of scale. What once seemed like a small house immediately felt imposing, all encompassing, I was hit with a sense of dread that I didn’t have playing on a TV display. The quality of the visuals also surprised me right off the bat, in the Kitchen demo the visuals were good but they had a lot of shimmering and jaggies and whatnot (not a technical guy) and while those are still present to some degree in Beginning Hour, it was much less noticeable to me.
Obviously it won’t look as good as it will on a TV but the trade off in visual fidelity for this new sense of immersion is a no brainer for me. There’s that eye-rolling word, immersion, but I’m not smart enough to think of a better one to describe it, there is no comparison when playing it in VR, it’s all around you. And man, it really ratchets up the tension.
Tension and fear are perhaps the most important aspects of RE7, and indeed any horror game, but in VR your paranoia is increased tenfold, I crawled absolutely everywhere, slowly and carefully craning my head around corners to avoid any nasty surprises, it’s almost a relief when the spooky thing does finally reveal itself because at least then you know what you’re dealing with. Sure, what happens in ‘location X’ is scary, but slowly approaching that bath filled with blood, not knowing if something would jump out and grab you, that’s the real horror. Standing at the top of the stairs that lead down to the basement, knowing you have to go down there into the unknown, I can’t imagine that would have felt even half as unnerving without VR.
Full disclosure, I seem to be immune to VR sickness so perhaps your experience will differ to mine, however Capcom have included a whole bunch of options to help combat this phenomenon. By default, the right stick doesn’t move the camera in a smooth manner but rather its snaps to the direction by a certain amount of degrees (you can set how many degrees in the options). You can also set it so that the crouch button immediately puts you in the crouching position rather than a smooth motion that may upset bellies. But hey, having a sick feeling in your stomach should add to the immersion right?
So, to wrap this up, if you own a PSVR, immediately download the Beginning Hour, play around with it, it has like 3 endings and a convoluted, P.T-esque, puzzle to solve so that should keep you entertained for a while, you could spend longer here in this free demo than in the Batman Arkham VR story! If you’re thinking about getting a PSVR but aren’t convinced it can live up to expectations, look into RE7, if you can, try it at a friends house or something, I think it can sway you. If you think you may get PSVR one day, but in the future, then my advise to you is to not play RE7 until that day comes, you don’t want to spoil it for yourself by the time you have the means to experience it the way it should be experienced.