Resident Evil Village PSVR 2 Review. The biggest name in horror gaming marks its PSVR 2 debut with a staggering conversion of the eighth entry in the mainline series. Find out what makes the don of Survival Horror tick in VR with PlayStation Universe’s Resident Evil Village review for PSVR 2.
Resident Evil Village PSVR 2 Review – Survival Horror’s Colossus Gets Right in Your Face
It has to be said Capcom took a pretty big swing with the direction for Resident Evil VII. The game successfully rebooted a creatively flagging franchise in many ways, but one of the more understated ways that happened was Capcom’s decision to make it playable on PS4’s PSVR setup as well.
The hardware had its limitations, and many game’s suffered for that on the platform, including Resident Evil 7, but the murky dark of the Baker estate lent itself well to PSVR’s blurry output. It felt like a formative step for Resident Evil in virtual reality, and proved to be the case when the VR version of Resident Evil 4 (the original rather than the remake) turned out great (hopefully that version will reach PSVR 2 someday).
Now, with the far superior power of PSVR 2 to call upon, Capcom has seen fit to transform Resident Evil Village into a fully-fledged VR experience, and truth be told, it’s leaps and bounds over those early efforts in so many ways.
It’s worth noting from the off that Capcom really has designed the VR version as its own thing. So much so that you can’t transfer your pre-VR saves across to it. A bit of a downer for sure. The upside is you get to learn the ropes from the start. You will need to learn the ropes if you’ve not touched much VR outside of the original PSVR.
Getting used to the quirks of playing Village in VR takes a bit of time. A handy tutorial set in protagonist Ethan Winters’ garage settles you into the nuances of it. In that garage, you get walked through the movement of the character. Left stick for moving about, right stick for turning, and motion control for looking. You can physically reach out to grab items or press X, and combat is monumentally more tactile in VR.
Tooling Up Isn’t Hard to Do
The tutorial shows you a few gun types and how they work in VR. It was here I could first really feel the difference between this game’s VR and that of the previous game. You are tasked with reloading a pistol and you have to do the whole cool shebang the first time around (you can make it a bit simpler after if you wish). You grab your pistol from your holster on your right hip, eject a clip, psychically grab another out of your ammo bag that sits on your left hip and slot it in, then pull back the top to load a bullet into the chamber.
It’s a genuinely impressive level of detail that adds a whole new level to the survival horror aspects of Village. It’s just as satisfying with other weapons too. Reaching behind you to grab a shotgun off your back and psychically load shells into the chamber and use the pump action? Glorious stuff.
And what about the trusty knife? It gains so much in Resident Evil Village VR because you have so much more control over it. The knife sits in a holder on Ethan’s left arm and by moving your right arm over to it and grabbing it by holding the R1 button you can brandish it for combat, box slashing and amusingly lame attempts at knife juggling or knife throwing. Like all weapons, you can ‘let go’ of the knife and it will go back to its default holster, but you can also throw the into the air and catch them or transfer it from one hand to the other. So if you want to wield the knife in one hand and a pistol in the other, go for it. Just don’t be surprised if you find you’ve accidentally dropped a weapon in a fluster.
It’s a system that works fairly well. I must say the opening hour of the game, however, is not a great way to get used to it. There’s too much of a stop-start, choreographed aspect to it. That isn’t really there in the remainder of the game. Also, cutscenes take pretty much all control from you (or are viewed on a flat screen). So it gets easy to forget some of the nuances of the controls in the gaps. Generally, that opening hour is such hard going unless you’re well-versed in VR traversal and can safely move about without clattering someone when you inevitably panic. As first proper impressions go, it’s not a great one, even if the game world looks utterly fantastic.
A Stunning Showcase
And wow, the game world really does look fantastic in VR. The HDR in PSVR2 really makes the dingy dark corners of Village appear as dim as they would in reality. The sense of scale is absolutely splendid. If you were overawed (or something to that effect) by the size of Lady Dimestrescu before, it’ll blow your mind with just how tall she is when she’s leering down at you in VR.
The sense of space amplifies the stronger moments and enhances some sections considered weaker. House Beneviento was unsettling enough during that infamous section, but reliving that moment of that thing looming out of the darkness in front of me in three-dimensional space was so, so unpleasant. Add audio via headphones and it’s elevated to one of the best horror moments in any medium.
Then I think of the battle with Moreau’s lake monster. I quite liked it the first time around. Even if many found it to be a weak point among the bosses. In VR, it’s a proper spectacle that actually brings fresh fear and uncertainty. Navigating the rooftops of flooded houses, knowing a leviathan is ready to eat you for lunch? Scary. Even the action-heavy finale gets an uptick from the tactile nature of combat. There’s a good tradeoff in freedoms on display that sort of inverts what came before in a tantalizing manner.
Resident Evil Village Reanimated
VR doesn’t always make Resident Evil Village a better experience. Yet it is quite remarkable how much fresh life it breathes into it. I don’t think it’ll be the easiest VR game to get into. But once you begin to understand its mechanics, it becomes an extremely lavish experience. Especially within this medium. There’s still room for improvement I feel, but Capcom has set a pretty high bar for itself with Resident Evil Village on PSVR2.
Resident Evil Village PSVR 2 is now available via a free update for existing owners of the game on PS5.