The Inpatient: within the virtual asylum Review

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Whether you love horror like I do? If earlier in order to tickle your nerves, people had to watch horror movies, modern technology has given us entirely new degree of immersion virtual reality. VR horror can completely change your idea about how terrible video games can be. Today I’d like to tell you about a new project for headset PlayStation VR called the Inpatient.

British Studio Supermassive Games became famous after the release of the game Until Dawn for the PlayStation 4. This unusual cinematic horror told the story of several teenagers confronting a serial killer in a remote country mansion. The game stood out from the rest with its detailed characters, exciting plot, and the opportunity to influence the development of the story, making important decisions, thereby radically changing the course of things and the ending. The game received high marks from critics and caught the fancy of players so that it was decided to expand the universe in which the events took place Until Dawn.

The management of the Studio, decided on a risky step and released an experimental rail first person shooter for headset virtual reality PlayStation VR called Until Dawn: a Rush of Blood. The player, armed with two PlayStation Move controllers are afforded the opportunity to be in the subconscious of the killer from the original game and face-to-face encounter with the terrifying nightmares born of his sick brain. The game was short but really scary, because for the first time players were able to be directly within all the horror, not watch him through the window in the shape of a TV screen.

Experiments with virtual reality was continued. At this time, the British, the developers decided to throw players a few decades in the past. Thus was born the idea of the game the Inpatient (the Russian version of the name — “the Patient”), telling about events that happened 60 years ago in the mental institution “Blackwood pines”. The one that appeared in the original Until Dawn. The game tries to recreate the atmosphere of a classic psychological horror and mix it with the latest achievements in the field of virtual reality. How well did she do that – we will try to find out together.

It all starts with choosing the gender of the main character and the color of his skin. You can play as a man or a woman. This choice depends on not only how you will see and feel in virtual reality, but many other factors, such as NPCs, who will meet the protagonist/the protagonist during the game. Then you find yourself tied to a chair in a dark room where creepy looking psychiatrist asks you strange questions, trying to understand the reasons for your amnesia. For the first time in my memory, players are encouraged to use an innovative voice control. You can answer the questions how to use DualShock 4 controller, and just his voice saying the answers listed on the screen. Built-in PlayStation VR headset the microphone will recognize the commands and transmit them to the game.

Depending on how you answer the questions put to you, will be transformed and the plot of the game. Even insignificant at first glance, the choice can lead to serious consequences after some time, therefore, to anticipate events is extremely difficult, even if you connect to business logic. The game resorts to the scheme has established itself in Until Dawn, where your decisions depended on what the characters in the finale will survive and which will die. This “butterfly effect” allows players to feel their involvement in the development of the plot, which in turn increases the degree of immersion in the game. Immersion also helps virtual reality technology, for the first time we are directly in the centre of the action, not watching from the sidelines.

From the office of the psychiatrist, the main character is put into a hidden chamber, where he meets another patient, as well as with the staff of the hospital “Blackwood pines”. Move in virtual reality is carried out using the DualShock 4, but in order to make this process as comfortable as possible, you will see the rotation setting of the character that minimizes the effect of motion sickness. Some items can be raised by pressing a button on your controller, and then twirl them in your hands (if you have a pair of Move controllers – you can use them). Management can not be called comfortable: the character turns around the axis is very slow, as the speed of his walk. At times the game suffers from the curve of the tracking camera, that’s why periodically I have to reset the position of the character in virtual reality using the Options button. The study subjects often leads to a flashback of the main character, transferring it into the past and shed light on what is happening. But to be 100% sure that those memories are true, not. In this game in General is difficult to be sure of anything, because reality is closely intertwined with the hallucinations of the protagonist.

The horror part of the game I am personally not very impressed. Most of the player trying to scare the classical techniques like “screamers” when you have something dramatically throws. And given the fact that events occur in The Inpatient clinic for the mentally ill, I would like to see more psychological techniques, not hackneyed cliches from low-grade horror films. In the game a couple of pretty interesting moments, such as when the player sees his character in the form of tiny toys inside the layout of the room in which it is at the moment, or when you need to stand still and not to move, so that the enemy did not notice you. And when I say “freeze”, I really mean that you can’t move, because your every move will be tracked by the camera the PlayStation Camera. The rest of the game will hardly be a revelation for fans of the horror as it happened to me.

For the visual component responsible for the graphics engine Unreal Engine 4, but despite this, the graphics in The Inpatient places bad limp. Characters are made and animated on a very high level, what can be said about the virtual environment. The textures of the scenery are often blurred, the objects suffer from low detail and the overall darkness of the picture tries to minimize all these disadvantages, making them invisible. But when the main character give the personal use of the lantern, you increasingly begin to focus our attention on the graphical flaws of the game, and gradually it spoils the impression of the game. It is not entirely clear: whether it’s technical limitations power iron PlayStation 4 or basic lack of budget.

Music and sound in the game at a very decent level. Music perfectly conveys the atmosphere of its time of composition is always appropriate and effectively emphasize what is happening on the screen. The voice acting of the characters is also done very professionally. All of this is magnified due to the impressive binaural audio effects, creating a realistic sound picture. From myself, I will add that the greatest effect will be achieved only if there is a good headphone. To use the built-in speakers of the TV is not recommended, as, indeed, cheap in-ear headphones, bundled with the PlayStation VR headset.

The disadvantages of the game include its uneven dynamics. Sometimes you’ll yawn from boredom just because the screen practically nothing happens. After some time will start on “progress”, soon re-changing complete calm. Such speed surges of the narrative over time, begin to strain, and closer to the final game and does not become unbearably boring. Many are annoyed by the fact that it is extremely difficult to understand what are the decisions you make. Here you supported your spouse in the chamber in its decision, the game gave you to understand that this choice is extremely important for the future. However, later we show how this choice was important to us. It happens all the time. The duration of the game also leaves a lot of questions. It is passed literally 2-3 hours, depending on whether you want to 100% explore a virtual environment, or will go through.

Pros:

  • The ability to know what preceded the events Until Dawn.
  • Characters made on a very decent level.
  • The oppressive atmosphere of a psychiatric hospital.
  • Innovative voice control.
  • The opportunity to influence the development of the plot.
  • Impressive binaural sound.
  • The multiple endings of the game.

Cons:

  • The plot is not up to great stories Until Dawn.
  • It is unlikely that the game will make you really hard to scare.
  • It is difficult to understand what effect the decisions of the player.
  • Sometimes game graphics noticeably limping.
  • Management suffers from several disadvantages.
  • The dynamics of The Inpatient is extremely uneven.
  • The Inpatient can be completed in 2 hours.

With all the above benefits of playing in The Inpatient after literally an hour after the opening credits, it becomes unbearably boring. Narrative, suffering from the lapses in dynamics and destroys the entire atmosphere so lovingly created by the artists, sound engineer, and composer. Especially well-remembered voice control (which is not devoid of problems because of the location), some really creepy moments (unfortunately, the game is replete with them), as well as properly developed characters. The many endings of the game can’t pull her from the abyss of gloom, though, and will please fans of the franchise Until Dawn. The rest of The Inpatient is a passing project for a long time unable to interest the player. The game gets a from me only 5 points out of 10. I really hope that the Studio Supermassive Games will be able to rehabilitate themselves with the release of its next VR game – military militants Bravo Team.

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