Resident Evil Village VR review: Terrifying or eerie?
Does Resident Evil 8 deliver top quality in VR again? I tested the entire campaign on Playstation VR 2.
After the breathtakingly beautiful Horizon Call of the Mountain, Capcom supplied the Playstation VR 2 with more big productions. A VR mode is planned for the remake of Resident Evil 4 at no extra charge.
Resident Evil Village, i.e., part 8, has already received a free DLC at the VR headset’s launch, making the complete story mode playable in VR. Unfortunately, you cannot use your existing PS5 save game, and the arcade mode “Mercenaries” is not supported either.
Nevertheless, the test shows that the campaign is more captivating than ever in virtual reality!
Resident Evil Village: Review in a nutshell
Resident Evil Village surpasses almost every other VR adventure in terms of scope, gameplay depth, and richness of detail. The search for the missing daughter leads to an insane Romanian nightmare world in a motivating mix of action, puzzles, hiding, and exploration.
Occasionally, bumpy transitions or interface errors make it noticeable that the game was not developed for VR. The immersion is nevertheless great thanks to the breathtaking scenery, and it is remarkably well adapted to the capabilities of the PSVR 2. In particular, the vibration of the headset makes gun battles and wild boss fights even more intense.
Resident Evil Village is suitable for me if …
- I’m looking for an extensive and varied VR adventure,
- I want to experience the second most beautiful VR setting after Horizon, and
- I want to enjoy the haptic effects of the PSVR 2 fully.
Resident Evil Village is less suitable for me if…
- I am bothered by conversion errors like the missing collision detection of some objects,
- I am looking for a reasonably compelling story, and
- too much shooting in a horror game bothers me.
A wild VR horror trip
Resident Evil Village makes it clear from the start that it is a wild horror trip. Ethan Winters actually wanted to forget the events of his predecessor after moving in with his wife Mia and baby Rose.
But the family idyll in the Romanian home does not last long. After just a few minutes, Ethan’s daughter is kidnapped. The injured hero of the story must inevitably go in search of the helpless child.
Countless horrors lurk in the search for clues. While escaping from shaggy-armed werewolves, Ethan ends up in cellars full of corpses, sneaks through the castle of the vampire lady Dimitrescu and explores remote paths in half-open levels.
Armed combat and small inventory puzzles with cult items have been nicely integrated. Sometimes I’m looking for clues to the right combination of movable stone slabs, and elsewhere, I use a jack to heave a tractor out of the way.
The story, on the other hand, is too convoluted for me. There’s just too much jumbled up here. From the vampire daughters’ thirst for blood to twitching killer dolls to machine creatures, a lot of things don’t quite fit together. Even Ethan’s unintentionally funny favorite curse, “Shit!” reminds me more of an episode of South Park than the gruesome situation.
Resident Evil 8: More immersion thanks to VR
I can ultimately overlook the inconsistencies in the story because the game captivates me even more in VR than on TV. While I often felt a bit constricted before, the VR implementation gives me a new feeling of freedom.
Whether it’s the careful crawling through hidden corridors or the use of shotgun and sniper rifle, all of this conveys the feeling of personally exploring the sinister world. Even when a surprised villager holds his shotgun in my face in a cutscene, it comes across much more threatening than on the flat screen.
Capcom has come up with a cool, optional innovation for aiming with firearms. If I stabilize the weapon with my second hand, it automatically aims at the right angle toward the enemy. If, for example, a musty sword warrior in the castle staggers towards me, I only have to move the front sight exactly in front of his head, instead of also aligning the rear sight.
If this interferes too much with the handling, you can deactivate this help – or adjust the general difficulty level right away. Fights against startling and suddenly appearing monsters are really entertaining in any case. Between old pieces of furniture, it’s not always easy to keep an eye on quick movements from all directions.
Fortunately, the spatial audio helps a bit with locating them, even if some musty creatures sound a bit too close. The haptic feedback in the headset always gave me goosebumps. Especially the penetrating power of scattering shotgun blasts seems noticeably more imposing when the “thump” is also felt as a vibration on the head.
Close combat still only plays second fiddle here. Pushy attackers cannot be pushed away as nicely as in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution. On the other hand, the developers have implemented a block with crossed arms as well as punches. However, both only keep biting beasts at bay for a short time.
Strengths and weaknesses of the VR adaptation
While playing, I’m challenged to fumble cartridges into the barrel via the motion controllers, pull back the slide, and more. After a short dodging movement, I free a werewolf from its shaggy head or get a vampire bat out of the air – a wonderfully macabre feeling!
Overall, manual weapon control offers a nice mix of ambition and accessibility.
It’s a shame that Capcom doesn’t give as much attention to all aspects of the VR implementation. Some story sequences are weak points. At times, with wild camera movements, the direction briefly switches to the virtual cinema screen, and the transition seems rather abrupt.
The adaptation to the needs of VR also has its pitfalls in other places. My arms, for example, are only disembodied stumps on closer inspection, which develop a life of their own in cutscenes. In the game, they jut out blithely into objects. I can simply reach through many chests of drawers and walls without the usual collision detection common in VR games.
After Horizon Call of the Mountain, it also seems odd to me that I can interact with so few objects. While it makes sense in the original game design that treasures are only waiting in a few destructible showcases, this disturbs the sense of presence in VR.
The inventory implementation, on the other hand, is largely successful. After a short familiarization period, I can easily reach the slots on the shoulders, hip belt, and in the hinged coat.
Hide and seek in the dollhouse
The examination of found objects, however, is a bit awkward. Instead of picking them up, I turn them with a cursor to uncover a hidden screwdriver in the key ring, for example. It also makes sorting the inventory a bit impractical.
At the rotund merchant Duke, treasures, money, or slain animals can be exchanged for various upgrades for weapons, bags, and resistance. This motivates the player to leisurely walk along the side paths.
A nice change is when Ethan hides from the hulking Lady Dimitrescu – or in a house full of horror dolls. The latter is a short but nice allusion to horror titles like Alien: Isolation or Konami’s legendary horror game demo P.T. (Silent Hills).
On the delusional trip through the doll maker’s mansion, I crawl under a bed to escape a slippery pursuer. Inventory items like artificial eyeballs or hidden tweezers play a bigger role here than in the action-packed rest of the game.
Speaking of action, the bombastic, well-balanced boss fights are some of the best I’ve experienced in VR so far. I don’t want to give too much away, but get ready to be dragged halfway across the scenery by gigantic monsters. The vibration on the head makes the ordeal even more impressive.
Resident Evil Village VR: Almost photorealistic
The extremely detailed backdrops also amazed me time and again. Many small ornaments and realistic reflections on smooth surfaces make the backdrops look almost photorealistic. This is especially true for the smaller rooms in the doll maker’s house.
Even the gorgeous Half-Life: Alyx (which might be coming to PSVR 2) looks surprisingly flat and undetailed after enjoying RE8, even on ultra settings. Only in comparison with Horizon does “Resi” have to admit defeat. In Sony’s flagship title, panoramas and fine wooden surfaces benefit from an even higher resolution, which makes the picture look stunning.
The OLED screen of the PSVR 2, which is unusual for virtual reality, also makes itself felt in Resident Evil Village. On the one hand, the atmosphere benefits massively from the deep black value, but on the other hand, the uneven illumination of the screen becomes visible in dark moments for me (Mura effect).
Tricks for comfort
The comfort is almost always exemplary here. My stomach was hardly bothered, even during cutscenes. Those with more sensitivity to VR motion can skip such hectic passages, by the way. Furthermore, there are numerous options in settings, which range from step-by-step turning to choosing alignment according to your head or your hand.
A real highlight is the vignette at the edge of the image with its smooth transition. It closes almost like a real eye during fast movements. In critical moments, the image narrows, especially at the upper and lower edges, which feels very natural and effectively avoids nausea. Locomotion via teleport, however, is missing.
Resident Evil 8 in VR review conclusion: A real highlight.
All in all, the VR mode of Resident Evil Village is a real highlight in the launch lineup of the PSVR 2. Even though not all aspects were ideally implemented, hardly any VR game has motivated me for so long.
With around 14 hours of playtime and surprisingly pretty scenery, the game brings a real AAA atmosphere to virtual reality. Only Gran Turismo 7 is likely to keep me busy for much longer.
A conversion of Resident Evil Village for other VR platforms is currently not planned. Alternatively, there are already mods of various series parts for PC VR headsets. An official VR remake of Resident Evil 4 is available for Quest 2. Resident Evil 7 already got a free VR mode on the first PSVR. There, you can even switch freely between VR and TV modes. This is not possible in Resident Evil Village.
All information about Sony's VR headset can be found in our Playstation VR 2 review. The PSVR 2 is currently only available from the Playstation Store. You will also need a Playstation 5.
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