Well, originally I didn’t intend to talk about how poorly Resident Evil Village was adapted for PlayStation VR2. After all, I like the predecessor, although I’ve never really warmed to Resident Evil. For me, first-person horror is the most intense form of scaring. So I was very curious to see how one of the first implementations for the new headset would work, since the developers have already gained experience with virtual reality with Resident Evil 7.
And then the first one or two hours were unfortunately a disappointment, because this isn’t full-fledged virtual reality. In a number of film scenes, cutscenes and even in some transitions, such as walking through some doors, you are only a passenger, while the alter ego moves on its own except for its head and even gesticulates on its own. It is extremely important in VR that, firstly, you are not controlled by others and, secondly, you can constantly contribute yourself, especially through what you do with your hands.
For example, when one of the villagers pointed his gun at me, I automatically held my open hands in front of my chest – only to realize right away that my virtual self was doing it without me having to do anything. Suddenly I was no longer an active person; Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, among other things, does this better, since you can freely walk around and manipulate while others chat.
You can hardly interact with the environment otherwise. Only the necessary resources, cartridges, keys and whatever else the protagonist Ethan should pack, he is allowed to take in hand at all. But not even the bottles or crates lying around in many places have been added. And you don’t grab anything that’s interactive either, you snatch it up at the touch of a button over relatively long distances. Doors open by themselves and instead of reading notes, a text window appears over the notes in Ethan’s hand – no, a lot of things just don’t feel right here.
I realize that this may seem like a list of unimportant details. But in VR, these little things make all the difference. There are even doors that you open by hand to take a careful look at what’s behind them. Capcom has also ensured that Resident Evil Village is a comfortable VR adventure for as many players as possible with a range of options primarily for looking and moving. There are no alternatives to moving by tilting the analog stick.
Last but not least, you have to give the developers credit for taking a closer look in terms of interaction when it comes to using weapons. Because if you slide the cartridges of a shotgun into the rifle one by one and then load it while you are already holding the barrel in the face of an attacker, then it’s like action cinema to play yourself.
I also like the menu, which doesn’t appear as a boring hologram screen in front of your eyes, but looks like a separate room with three walls with all inventory, crafting and other options. Of course it would be even better if you could carry out all actions in the running game. However, it seems understandable to me that such complex innovations cannot be incorporated into a title originally developed for classic gaming.
In general, it is of course clear that the weak VR adaptation is due to the fact that Resident Evil Village was initially designed without a focus on virtual reality. And such a complex project is not easily turned inside out afterwards. Well, according to one producer, the later addition of the classic shoulder perspective was “as time-consuming as developing a new game”, but that’s it. In return, the VR update is free for all owners of the game.
So after I got over the initial disappointment and got over that horrible point where you just have to survive a zombie rush, even though you’re just being suggested that you have to go to a certain house, I realized how I always do more groove into this horror trip. As I said: The weapons feel good, the movement works at least for me without giddiness and above all this game looks damn good in VR!
The gnarled village with its winding paths and old wooden buildings is probably one of the strongest scenes that can currently be admired in a VR title. I haven’t even gotten to the castle yet – but meanwhile I’m enjoying the way there much more than I would have thought possible based on the first impression. One of the reasons for this is that many details are not necessarily displayed in the distance, but are displayed in great detail on relatively close objects. As a result, many scenes appear so plastic, as if you could touch them.
It’s impressive how well crafted some of the objects that jut out into the room look. As little as graphics make a good game, when used skillfully in virtual reality, it goes a long way to getting you there with skin and hair.
At the latest when you hold your jacket open with your right hand, pull out a flashlight there and switch it on to illuminate a dark cellar, the stupid little things are forgotten for a few moments and Resident Evil Village is an excellent good reason to get involved with PlayStation VR2 again or like me going to this gloomy village for the first time. It’s not the big VR adventure. But it’s a big adventure in VR and that alone is a great addition to the current lineup.