Resident Evil Village PSVR 2 Review
Back in 2017, a gaming experience made me vow I would not play Resident Evil Village aka RE8, in flat mode. That gaming experience was Resident Evil 7, aka Biohazard. The shift from 2D to a virtual representation on the PSVR 1 amped the terror level of that game to new heights. It remains a terrifying gaming landmark for horror game fans. You can check out our review of the flat version here – Resident Evil Village.
So when RE8 launched on May 7, 2021, I did not play it. No VR game announcement existed, yet rumors swirled and patience prevailed. After an agonizing wait, a PSVR 2 version of RE8 was finally revealed by Capcom at a Sony State of Play.
Still, the waiting continued as the PSVR 2 had yet to launch. Finally, almost two years after the release of RE8, PSVR 2 arrived and so did the VR version of RE8.
Was the wait worth it? Oh, yeah!
PSVR 2 Improvements
The new specs of the PSVR 2 are a match made in heaven, or hell, for RE8. The increased fidelity of the 4K display, along with the true blacks, the 3D Tempest audio, the haptic feedback, and the force-resistant triggers all provide the primo Resident Evil experience.
RE7 on PSVR 1 is hobbled by the light-based tracking. The PS Moves are inadequate to handle the control scheme of the game, so the PS4 DualShock was needed. No such restrictions exist for the PSVR 2 with its inside-out tracking. In RE8, you have full use of your hands. This new level of interactivity increases immersion.
But it doesn’t stop there. Not only can you see and use your virtual hands, but you can also feel things. The trigger resistance on weapons differs. Going from the pistol to the shotgun gives the additional feedback kick of the blast via the PSVR 2’s headset haptics. There are also distinct audio cues of enemies lurking around all sides of you. It’s a full horror game, let alone any game genre, experience.
Visually, the game makes great use of eye tracking and foveated rendering to render the in-game graphics. The level of detail visually is top-notch. Whether it’s the glorious opulence of the interior of the Dimitrescu Castle or the underground labyrinth or the rundown abodes of the peasant village, they all look great.
New Tech & Conversion Comprises
Further, the OLED displays allow for the deepest, darkest blacks possible. Vital for horror games. Also, the HDR allows the lighting capabilities of the RE Game Engine to, pun intended, shine. Combine these two and you get creepy game sections where shadows loom and flicker in the torchlight. It also really makes the use of your flashlight look lifelike.
As a game developed first for 2D, they have made concessions for the VR Mode. Not all game elements migrated to VR. Cut scenes remain in 2D and are displayed on a cinematic screen. Some in-game actions still rely on button presses. Small things but still immersion-breaking.
Overall, the conversion to VR has been excellent. Outside of the in-game action, they have reworked all the menu screens to display in VR. They look pretty but sadly, eye tracking is not used. In, Call of the Mountain you can navigate menus simply by looking at them whereas in RE8 you have to use the controllers.
In-game, you access items based on body position. You grab bigger weapons over your shoulders. The pistol is on your hip according to which hand you prefer. On your waist is the ammo. The knife is on your off-hand wrist. In a really nifty touch, you access your flashlight by pulling open your coat with one hand and grabbing your torch with the other. All this adds to your level of in-game immersion.
Possible VR Vertigo & Training
The most immersion-jarring moments in the game are the scripted scenes with locked-down camera views. As the game’s protagonist, Ethan Hunt, you will be captured and dragged with the camera view at ground level. However, you can still look around beyond what one could normally see in such a position. As a VR veteran, I found these moments amusing. VR newbies may find these moments nausea-inducing.
New to the game is the VR Mode is a Training area. Here you can try out the various weapons such as the pistol, shotgun, and sniper rifle. Each has its unique haptics and different resistance on trigger pulls. The other big mechanic is weapon reloading. Rather than just a button press, you mimic real-life hand actions to eject spent ammunition, reload new ammo, and cocking the weapon to fire.
Weapon reloading through hand motions adds a new gameplay wrinkle because it takes time. Without a mere button press, you must factor in the time to reload. This amps up the tension when you are in close-quarters combat. You’ll find yourself feverishly reloading your weapon in these moments.
A new combat wrinkle is available too. In VR, if you drop a weapon or your flashlight, they will automatically respawn at the location where you are carrying them. In the knife’s case, this is a fun, if questionable, combat technique. You end up with an infinite supply of knives, so you can throw them at an enemy, wait a beat, and voila, your knife is back for you to throw again. Since the damage meted out this way is minimal, it ends up as an amusing curiosity, rather than anything meaningful.
Real Life Scale Scares
Of course, there is the real-life scale that VR brings. The reveal moment when you step out of the woods to see the village and the castle looming over it is amazing. The game’s most famous protagonist, Lady Dimitrescu, is even taller than her 2D version implies, hitting a lofty 10 feet tall!
RE8 may not be as scary as RE7 in VR, but it certainly has its own horrific moments. This is a game for VR veterans. There is a heavier focus on action compared to RE7. Happily, the PSVR 2 and its Sense Controllers are perfect for such gameplay.
If you fancy VR or love horror games and the Resident Evil series, you should definitely check out Resident Evil Village on the PSVR 2. Here’s hoping that the upcoming Resident Evil 4 Remake is getting a full VR Mode. Plus, it would be awesome to have Resident Evil 7 ported to PSVR 2 too.
- Awesome visuals with true blacks
- Haptics and force resistance cues
- Excellent audio
- Locked down camera in some action scenes
- Cutscenes are in 2D
- Some actions remain button based