This weekend, we at Woo Long Talks got the opportunity to sample some of the sheer terror coming the way of gamers this month. After the eagle eyed Rich spotted a viral campaign online, we followed the clues to a discreet location in central London on a freezing cold morning and joined the modest crowd outside the building. There was a quiet hum of anticipation around everyone there. I overheard plenty of nervous excitement within the the various conversations puncturing the chilly air, people seemed to be trying to contain there emotions in that typically British way that we do, but you got the feeling that everyone there was very much anticipating a mind blowing experience and we were not disappointed.
It would be remiss of me not to point out that part of the ‘Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’ experience that we hoped we would be getting, included free tickets to full on ‘escape room style’ adventure, where visitors get to visit a mock up of The Bakers home and attempt to avoid the lunatic family members whilst solving puzzles along the way. Unfortunately, the tickets had already been claimed at around 6am, which meant we had to miss out on that part. There seemed to be some confusion around how you actually went about claiming the tickets and it was disappointing that we had to miss out, but God bless those hardy souls that turned up at the crack of dawn in a London winter to get them. That’s dedication for you!
Anyway, once we had gotten into the warmth, we were greeted by lots of appropriate marketing material, including a waiting area dressed to look like one of rooms you would find in the game, complete with mucky, peeling wallpaper and creepy ass family photos. We eventually managed to get into the gaming area, which was fully stocked with screens running various demo versions of the game that we could play, as you’ll see below;
The cherry on top the very pleasing cake, was three screens equipped with Sony PlayStation 4’s VR (Virtual Reality) Headsets. For those that don’t know, ‘Resident Evil 7’ is a game which provides VR support via Sony’s kit, and it’s a masterstroke to use the technology for a game like this.
I know some die hard ‘Resident Evil’ fans have had some reservations about the game going from ‘Third Person View’ to ‘First Person View’ for the game play experience, but having played the demos, I can say confidently that those with doubts really need to give the game a go. The feel that you have in a FP view is one that adds another interesting dimension to the franchise. Rich was first up to try the Virtual Reality experience, and I think part of his soul is still stuck in that random PlayStation 4 console;
He really enjoyed the 15 minutes or so he got to experience on the VR, standouts for him, where the atmosphere that Virtual Reality creates around the game, and with some effective jump scares thrown in, it really feels like the technology could be a game changer for the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise. It came to my turn to try it out, and after some fiddling with the headset (which looked as if it had seen better days), I managed to get it to fit. I started the game and was instantly assaulted by a pounding headache, the like of which I haven’t experienced in some time. It felt as if one of The Bakers had taken a sledge hammer and smashed me repeatedly in the forehead with it. Having done some research since the experience, I’m please to discover that experiencing nauseous feelings using VR is not a uncommon thing. I think, I will need to do some more research into ways to combat these feelings before I splash out any cash on this kit, but I can definitely say that aside from the pain, the game play experience was actually very good. I started off in a room, with the objective being to escape disgusting and creepy Baker home. The detail in the decor was outstanding, with almost every object in front of me fully realised and interactive. At one point, I had to remove a pair of bolt cutters from the rotting carcass of some kind of animal. I could almost feel the squelching of the rancid ‘meat’ under my feet as I wrenched it clear (the sound editing in the game is outstanding too). I managed to get into a cabinet and find a video tape that I popped into a VCR in another room. This reveals some of the plot via some exposition (which I wont spoil here) and then I had to tag out from the VR before my brain exploded.
I did manage to get onto one of the consoles that didn’t have a VR unit attached and I was able to complete the demo, which was terrific. When I do managed to save up the money and find a cure for my motion sickness, a PlayStation 4 with VR looks to be my next gift to myself. I would argue that ‘Resident Evil 7’ is a triumphant return to form for the franchise and a great way to introduce newcomers to the huge advantages of gaming with VR. Even without the VR though, the game is very much worth playing, even if you are not normally a fan of Horror games. It touches your psyche in ways that very few games are capable of doing these days, just remember, if you do go out and purchase a copy, keep telling yourself it’s only a game..
‘Resident Evil 7’ is on general release now.