Why I'm excited for the potential of PlayStation VR in horror gaming...
Hot on the virtual heels of my Until Dawn: Rush of Blood review, I've been thinking a lot about PSVR and how much it elevated an experience that could have otherwise been quite mediocre. I've always been somewhat of an early adopter for new technology, and tend to wear my horror-loving heart on my sleeve, so it's no surprise to me that I'm already smitten with PSVR's potential for horror.
One of the most important aspects of horror, gaming, and pretty much any form of storytelling, is the ability to lose yourself in a world of someone else's creation. True immersion can be an escape from daily life, or in the case of the horror, it can have you squeezing your eyes closed, knowing that there might be someone, or something, in your face when you open them. Naturally, I'm all about that second option, and the surge of fear and adrenaline that I've experienced in PSVR horrors – admittedly just one full game and two demos so far – has me begging for more.
The combination of 360-degree vision and sound is an all-encompassing concoction of horror, and opens up possibilities for horror tactics that are as old as time, but never lose their appeal. Someone whispers behind you. Something bangs to the floor. Footsteps. It sounds like someone is breathing right into your ear. All you have to do is turn around, literally turn your head around, and face the unknown. As always, that's the hard part, as I found out when I played the Kitchen teaser demo for Resident Evil 7.
A deranged woman leapt from the shadows in the corner of the room, decapitated the one person who could have freed me from the chair I was tied to, and then disappeared back into the shadows behind me. Then she laughed. Closer and closer. Until I knew that she was right behind me, wielding the knife that she'd jabbed towards my face only moments ago. If this were a film, I'd be shouting “Just turn around!” by now, from the safety of my sofa where I'd be wielding a cup of tea. What did I do when it was me? Why, I looked down at my feet, of course. Pathetic. Don't worry, she crawled over my shoulders and stabbed me in the face, which is probably what I deserved.
While my face was still whole, though, I was having a great time. I was completely and utterly too scared to turn around and face the horror behind me, and it was PSVR that facilitated such an experience. I loved it. Sure, the PSVR's visual performance isn't quite at the level of non-VR games just yet, but as you'll see in my Rush of Blood review, it didn't need to be in order to create an enjoyable, occasionally unsettling experience.
I'm not holding my breath that PSVR will see the first-party support that it deserves over the years, since I'm still in a long-term relationship with my PlayStation Vita, but I am optimistic for PSVR's impact on console gaming going forward. For example, Resident Evil 7 will be released on January 24th and the entire game will be playable via PSVR. The game could breathe new life into the bloated corpse that has become the Resident Evil franchise – which I'll be sure to review on HorrorTalk – and at the same time signal future potential for narrative-driven VR horror. With my heart on my sleeve and my PSVR headset on my head, I'm sure to be cowering nearby to write about it all.
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