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Resident Evil 7: the immersive gaming experience of the year?

View profile for Andy Moseby
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I know we’re only a month into 2017, but I’m calling it. The most immersive gaming experience of the year? Playing Resident Evil 7 on the PSVR. 

Yes, a lot of the finer graphical detail is lost (although who looks at the scenery when trying to dodge a chainsaw?), but the ability to quickly check over your shoulder or try and peak around corners or through tiny gaps in doorways makes it the most absorbing game I’ve played in a long time. Even some of the criticisms levelled at the PSVR headset – the sweat-inducing plastic, the claustrophobia – serve to work in its favour here, creating (with the help of some fabulous sound design) a cloying atmosphere of dread as well as some truly terrifying jump-scares.  It even passes that reliable test of greatness by being a game where it’s as much fun to watch someone else playing as it is to play it yourself. 

In fact, I’ll go further and say that it’s a game which actually validates the platform it’s on. 

As joyful as it was to watch my 80-year old father-in-law suffer through Until Dawn: Rush of Blood over Christmas (and to traumatise my friend’s children with the shark attack in VR Worlds) there was the feeling that online grumblings about the launch line-up being mostly extended tech demos weren’t that wide of the mark. Seeing Sony move its focus to the PlayStation 4 Pro and close down Guerrilla Cambridge – the studio responsible for Rigs, one of the best initial PSVR titles – was also a worry. A few weeks ago, Forbes even published a piece entitled “Is Sony’s PSVR Doomed Heading Into 2017?”. Although a prime example of Betteridge’s law, the article did raise a number of disquieting points: Sony are holding back sales numbers (although the reasoning – that PSVR is something people need to experience themselves and so there will be a slower start to sales than for, say, console iterations – makes sense) and the current release schedule of games for PSVR in 2017 is pretty thin.

Yet Resident Evil 7 shows that you can make a full-length triple-A gaming experience which works in virtual reality, and is even enhanced by it. Let’s hope we see a few more over the next six months. That box I have in the shed is already pretty full of dance mats, plastic instruments, an Eye Toy, a Wonderbook (remember that?) and a Kinect. I really don’t want to be consigning the PSVR to it any time soon.