This preview was written for PlayStation Insider or PlayStation Wire back in 2016. Today, both sites are defunct. With Chapter Select Season 5 being all about Resident Evil, I decided to dig up and republish this preview of the Midnight demo. I could not find a web archive of the original publication. My apologies. I’ve only done light editing to the preview. I hope you enjoy!
Ever since buying PlayStation VR almost two months ago, I have dabbled and peddled through a good chunk of demos.
I have found the games I love (SUPERHYPERCUBE and Arkham VR). I have taken my headset to two different houses (a task I don’t recommend if you value cable management) and have had nearly 20 different people try some sort of demo. I’ve even helped sell three.
The reason I share this tidbit is because VR is something that has to be experienced to fully wrap your head around. It’s one thing to watch and a completely different thing to experience. Every person reacts differently to each demo. Some people are fine going down an imaginary elevator in Arkham VR, while some rush off to the bathroom.
Ever since Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was announced and confirmed to be fully playable in VR, I have wanted to experience it. Like a kid with his face pressed against the glass of a toy store, I have seen and heard about Resident Evil in VR. On the other side of the glass are show floor demo reels, spooky collector’s editions, and queasy demo takers. Most of it looked super cool, except the sickness.
On the demo disc included with every PSVR unit, there is a short two minute demo of Resident Evil 7. Titled Kitchen you sit in a chair with your hands tied and watch a gross bog woman do terrifying things around you. It was a wonderful way to convey the effectiveness of horror in VR without having you actually move through a digital space. Although, it’s easy to imagine horror in VR though: The two were practically made for one another.
This latest update to the Beginning Hour demo for Resident Evil 7 is titled Midnight and features full VR support for the first time, outside of conventions. It is hands down my favorite VR demo to date.
It starts with a comfortable and, surprisingly, in-depth tutorial. It is slow and calculated. The calibration is smooth. It features the most varied options in settings for a VR game I have seen to date. You can adjust walk speed, HUD, reticle, crouch controls, calibration, and more. Capcom seems to truly care about you feeling 100% comfortable before they emotionally scar you.
All the options are nice, but they’ll do no good if they don’t translate well into a seamless session. Moving around the environment is surprisingly steady. Nothing goes too fast, which is often a cause of VR sickness for me. The left analog stick controls your ability to walk around, while you use your head to look and explore. The right analog stick allows you to control body rotation in 30 degree chunks. This can be adjusted to 60 or 90 degrees within the settings. I find this to be a brilliant solution early on in PSVR’s life for bodily rotation and camera control. I have total control on where I am walking and looking at all times while sitting down in my chair. It’s an elegant solution.
The game environment itself was immersive. Everything seemed to scale and sucked me into the suspense. The house felt occupied to a degree I never have felt in a horror game. VR horror is on a level beyond any horror experience I have ever had. From film, literature, and games, nothing has gotten my heart racing like Resident Evil 7 in VR. Horror is about immersion and Capcom nails that fundamental element in Resident Evil 7. I am never aware of the headset. I am inside the haunted house. It’s truly a marvel.
Combat, while scarce in the demo, was straightforward. I found the axe and my character held it up as I walked. It was always on screen, bobbing with my steps. Squeezing the trigger would allow me to swing the axe back and forth. When I became trapped with a giant mold monster (trust me, it is much scarier than it sounds), I started swinging my axe wildly. Years of training kicked in like fight or flight instincts and I found myself moving the right stick to try and move the camera. This led to some wonky and shaky camera movements in 30 degree intervals. Thankfully, it didn’t make me sick. I did become aware though that gamers will have to relearn how to handle situations like that. This demo was training wheels. We need to learn to keep the freaking out internal and not translate it to the game. I am hoping to slowly, but surely become better at controlling tense situations.
This demo has me sold completely on the virtual reality experience of Resident Evil 7. I cannot wait to dive back into the demo to the and get the good ending. I am also stoked to share this demo with my friends and family. Capcom is making the right step into refreshing the Resident Evil franchise with a bold, new way to play. I could not be more eager to pee my pants.