The 7th Guest VR Review
The 7th Guest, the original 1990s game, is one of those classic games that is remembered fondly because it pushed the technical boundaries of the era. The game integrated full motion video to enhance the moody horror tone of the game’s puzzler gameplay. Vertigo Games deemed the time to be right to resurrect the game and push tech boundaries once again with a VR version.
The setup remains the same. You are one of seven guests invited by a wealthy recluse and toy-maker, Henry Stauf, to his isolated mansion. Upon your arrival, Stauf continues his reclusive ways and remains out of sight. Each guest has their own checkered past and Stauf has lured them there with the promise of a solution to their problem. If they can solve the puzzles, he has scattered throughout the mansion.
You play as the seventh guest but without clues about your identity. All you know is the game presents your hands as ethereal appendages with the bones showing clearly through. Armed with a spectral lantern that allows you to see hidden features of the mansion, you must not only solve the mystery of the other guests but of yourself, too.
The game opens with you on a rowboat on a small lake, or large pond, facing the Stauf mansion. A spectral voice implores you to row towards the dock and enter the mansion. As you disembark the boat, this is where you pick up your special lantern. Not only can it reveal images of the past, but it can, in certain circumstances, repair broken objects.
Once in the mansion, the other guests arrive. The game presents all the guests in full motion video in honor of the original game. What is new is the full 3D presentation of the guests in a spectral manner. Of note, one ghost is a young boy of about eight to ten years old. He is no guest, yet he is part of the mansion, too. He also sounds an awful, like the voice that guided you outside towards the mansion.
With introductions of the characters out of the way, the real gameplay begins. As you explore the front lobby, you will pick up clues that guide you towards the next puzzle or quest. As you explore and solve puzzles, more of the guest’s history unfolds either through the clues gathered or by further appearances of the guests. You also learn more about each guest through music box recordings left by Stauf.
If you are a fun of puzzle games, then The 7th Guest will certainly satisfy that itch. Puzzle difficulty is a personal thing, so I can only relay my experiences. I found the puzzles to be somewhat difficult, but with patience and some trial and error, they are usually solvable.
A design decision I agree with is how the game handles solutions to puzzles. If the game stumps you, then your progress is halted. Fortunately, the game provides a mechanism where you can get the solution. Each room has a coin to find. Once you find it, if the need arises, you can summon up the spirit board.
Spirit Board To The Rescue
The spirit board serves several purposes. It has a map of the mansion and shows which areas you have access to. Secondarily, if you have the appropriate coin, the board will provide you with a hint or the outright solution to a puzzle if you so desire. A most welcome feature.
The developers have taken great pains to honor the original game. It follows the original story penned by Matthew J. Costello. So you will see returning characters such as Brian Dutton, Edward and Elinor Know, and Martine Burden. This does not prevent this new version from tweaking the story and adding new characters.
So, how did Vertigo do with the blending of the original with today’s technology? Pretty darn good. Horror games just naturally lend themselves to pushing the tech boundaries to enhance immersion. The move of The 7th Guest to VR is a natural step. It is also a welcome one because the tech of the 1990s hampered the ambition of the original game.
Not so today. The 7th Guest in VR is glorious and so atmospheric. To properly depict fog and spectral characters adds so much. Thanks to the use of volumetric video capture for the guests, ghosts have never looked so… ghostly. The game drapes the interior of the house in spider webs, which add to the atmosphere.
The 7th Guest VR Enhancements
Coupled with the improved atmospherics is VR’s ability to render environments. Now we get the mansion in fully realized, and life-sized scaled, three-dimensional environments. Room detail is strong and presented in an ethereal manner the enhances the haunted atmosphere of the game. The trade-off is the game appears softer than what the PSVR 2 is capable of. The eeriness of the mansion is further enhanced by the use of your lantern to show alternate versions of the same area.
You can choose your level of VR comfort with the optimal way being smooth turning and no vignetting. Tracking in the game is good, with only occasional fumbling when manipulating puzzles. Pressing the R2 or L2 action button before interacting with a puzzle solves this issue almost entirely. There is also an option to play seated or standing.
Vertigo reworked the original puzzles to take advantage of VR. There is more 3D manipulation involved in solving puzzles. Aesthetically, the artwork of the reworked puzzles pays homage to the original.
Of course, sound is a big part of horror games and a haunted mansion is the perfect setting. You will hear the creaks and groans of the mansion. You’ll hear the tick-tock of the grandfather clock. If you are near windows or doors to the outside, you’ll hear the rain, thunder, and lighting from the outside storm. And the sound is all around you, near and far. The spatial audio is excellent. Plus, many of the puzzles provide audible cues when your actions result in a positive or negative outcome.
The main area of disappointment for the PSVR 2 version is the lack of use of the haptics of the controllers and the headset.
Great Mix of Original And New
The 7th Guest VR version does a great balancing act. It honors the original game while updating the production values and gameplay mechanics to satisfy modern day audiences. One can’t help but feel this version of The 7th Guest is the version the original creators dreamed of doing. The 7th Guest VR version drops October 19th and is available on all the major VR platforms: PSVR 2, Quest 2, Quest 3, and PCVR.
If you have fond memories of the original game, this version will bring a smile to your face. If you have never played the 7th Guest before, you are in for a treat, especially if you love mystery/puzzle games with a horrific slant.
***The 7th Guest PSVR 2 code provided by the publisher***
- Very atmospheric presentation
- Spectral Lamp is cool and useful
- Lots of puzzles
- Images are a bit soft
- No use of PSVR 2 haptics
- Item manipulation can be awkward