A splintering pain in my temples was the first thing that hit me. My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, as the room around me gradually came into focus. I was in a dishevelled mess of a kitchen, which looked as though a small bomb had gone off in there. Pots and pans were strewn everywhere, parts of the floor were missing and there were sickening splatters of blood on almost every surface. Panic set in, and I looked around desperately for some means of escape. Realising that my hands and legs were tied to the chair I was sitting on caused me to cry out. All of a sudden I noticed a man lift himself up from the other side of the room and stumble towards me. He mumbled something incoherent and grabbed a knife from the floor; thankfully, he started to cut through the thick rope tying my hands together. There was a loud clang as something crashed to the floor causing him to work faster and faster. My heart was racing at the prospect of being set free, but my body went numb when suddenly I saw a knife sticking out of his chest. A crazed woman who had appeared out of thin air let out a maniacal laugh as she pulled out the knife and pushed the man’s corpse to the floor. My body was stiff as she approached me, her knife coming closer and closer to my face, poised only a few inches away from eyes……
Seconds later the sleek, futuristic Playstation VR goggles were removed and I was transported back into the safety of the Loading Bar. I had played a short demo of Resident Evil 7, scheduled for full release in January 2017, and this was my first real experience of the ‘virtual reality’ technology currently taking the world by storm.
My verdict is that it’s really impressive stuff, having the scary ability to trick your mind into forgetting the real world around you. It’s a benchmark on how far this technology has come over the years, and how much potential there is for VR to flourish. The actual goggles are a bit fiddley to put on, and then there is the usual hassle of calibration and making sure you are sitting in the correct position. But when the stars finally align and everything is working as it should, the effect is jaw dropping. The headset tracks the position of your head and allows a full 360 degree view of your surroundings, and there is a real sense of depth to what’s being displayed on the screen. The most immersive moment for me was when the woman in the demo pointed a knife right at my eye and my brain was screaming that my life was about to end.
In a perfect world I would tell you to head on over to your local games retailer and pick up a VR headset immediately. But at the moment the price of entry isn’t something I’m entirely comfortable with. For less than £350 you can buy a Playstation 4, but you’ll have to pay at least that much again for the VR goggles; and there’ll be plenty more to pay for the full games themselves, when released in the New Year.
Don’t let my sober attitude deter you completely: this is the very definition of cutting edge and if you have the cash to splash, then by all means dive on into the virtual world. But for those of us who can’t afford to be extravagant, it might be wiser to hold onto your money for just a little while, until the VR package becomes significantly cheaper (if every other new technology is anything to go by, this need not take too long).
Resident Evil 7 demo picture by Rob Obsidian used under Creative Commons License