Hands-on with Madison VR: Is it really the scariest VR game ever?

Hands-on with Madison VR: Is it really the scariest VR game ever?

Madison VR has been scaring Playstation VR 2 owners since yesterday. But is it really the scariest VR game around?

In 2022, the Science of Scare Project set out to find the scariest video game of all time. They had 200 people play 45 horror games from the last three decades and measured their heart rates. Madison caused the highest average heart rate and was named the scariest video game of all time, ahead of titles like Resident Evil 7, Dead Space and Five Nights at Freddy's 4.

Yesterday, a VR port of the horror game was released for Playstation VR 2. What is already an imposition on a flat screen is probably much, much worse in VR.

I took the plunge and played Madison VR for over two hours. I won't finish it, but not for the reasons you might think.

The feeling of being defenseless

Madison VR throws you right into the middle of the action, and only gradually do you learn what's going on through environmental clues such as newspaper clippings and tapes. This much can be revealed: You wake up in the body of a demon-possessed teenager whose reality is a sick and twisted fever dream.

During my time with the game, I explored a creepy house where I encountered impossible connections between rooms, things magically appearing and disappearing behind my back, and all sorts of other delusions. For the first two hours at least, Madison VR plays the psychological horror card, but not without a few jumpscares.

A haunted Polaroid camera plays an important role, allowing you to shed light on dark corners and solve puzzles. There were no fights in my parts of the game. Madison VR wants you to feel defenseless and the game succeeds perfectly.

A VR port with flaws

The studio knows how to create a scary atmosphere. But I struggled more with the illogical puzzle design and clumsy object interactions of the VR port than with my fear and the demon in my head. Some of the interactions are so poorly implemented that Bloodious Games later added explanations to the title screen about how to interact with game-relevant objects.

Among other things, I had trouble opening a cassette player, and I didn't know if this was a bug or if I needed to do something else to progress in the game. The result was that I spent an hour wandering around the house looking for another solution.


For the first two hours, the game overwhelmed me with puzzling clues and locks, and I had no idea what to do next. Even with the help of my neighbor sitting next to me reading me instructions from a walkthrough, it was sometimes difficult to find the solution or the next event trigger.

A horror milestone - or not?

Overall, my experience with Madison VR was more frustrating than terrifying. If I were to play it again, I would prefer to do so on a monitor and with a gamepad. Unfortunately, that's not possible because the flat-screen version is sold separately.

Apart from the object interactions, Madison VR is a solid VR port. The graphics, resolution, and frame rate are good. Also worth mentioning are the haptic effects of the controllers and the headset, as well as the sound design, which contributes greatly to the immersion.

Is Madison VR the scariest VR game ever? At least after the first two hours, I can answer that question with a resounding no. Resident Evil 7 on the first Playstation VR remains the undisputed benchmark for me.

That's not to say that Madison VR isn't scary. It's pretty close in terms of atmosphere and jumpscares. At one point, I screamed so loudly that my neighbor almost fell out of her chair. So be warned.

You can buy Madison VR for $35 from the Playstation Store.

Sources: The Science of Scare: Scariest Video Games in 2022