Sony’s new PlayStation VR2 is a solid headset with a relatively small launch catalog, and one of its most exciting titles is a VR mode for Resident Evil villageCapcom’s 2021 first-person survival horror shooter. Village draws inspiration Resident Evil 4, which got a great Meta Quest 2 port in 2021, so I had high hopes. And they were not unfounded. The free PSVR 2 update to Village offers great shots with the device’s Sense controllers and makes a solid case for the headset’s quirky “face rumble” feature. If only other parts didn’t torture me as much as The hands of Ethan Winters.
I do not claim full review Village in VR here. In my spare time since the mode’s launch on February 22, I’ve spent hours working on most of the first two sections, consisting of Ethan visiting the eponymous village and castle of famous vampire giantess Lady Dimitrescu. I’ve been reviewing VR games since 2016 and I consider myself to have an average tolerance for simulation sickness; For a long time I played games with a lot of movement, such as Horizon Call of the Mountain in PSVR 2. But Village has taken constant diligence to avoid causing some of the worst nausea I’ve had in years, and I don’t trust myself to get the whole thing done in time.
I’m not sure how many people will feel as bad as I do. For example, my colleague Sean Hollister has had a better experience. Still, Village is a laundry list of risk factors for VR-induced illness. Like countless other VR games, you play a pair of disembodied arms that can carry weapons or items, moving with the controller’s analog stick by default. But smooth, stick-based movement can make many VR users feel awful, and Village doesn’t have the teleportation style fallback comfort mode that many titles include – including Resident Evil 4 VR — offer. There’s a “tunneling” comfort option that narrows your field of view as you move, but in my experience it can only do so much.
In addition, the levels are full of labyrinthine passages where you have to sprint away from enemies or kick backwards while firing. They force you to twirl often with the thumbstick, which made both Sean and I sick, or your physical body, which quickly gets you caught up in the cord of the PSVR 2. The game is also full of lengthy cutscenes that give you the take away control, moving your virtual hands and head in ways that don’t reflect your actual position.
These elements reflect directly, and perhaps inevitably Village‘s non-VR design. Resident Evil 4 VR feels great because it’s original The level structure was relatively open and straight forward, built for methodical gameplay in the shooting gallery. (Because it’s originally a third-person game, it can also take you out of first person for cutscenes and certain combat moves, rendering them in the game’s non-VR style.) By contrast, Village is a game that often requires you to feel vulnerable and short on time, sometimes chased — or dragged — at close range by things you can’t fight.
The moment you pull out a gun, this feels like how Village was meant to be played
But so far that translates into periodic frustration, even when I’m not sick. I found myself running down squiggly virtual stairs, trying to avoid yanking the headset cable out of my PlayStation 5 or selecting and twisting in-game keys with a menu system just complicated enough to waste me precious seconds. Without going too far into spoiler territory, the interface prompts you to use the right face button to select important items… incredible wrong.
Especially if you’re prone to motion sickness, I’m not convinced Village‘s non-combat segments are worth the trade-offs of VR. There are some delightful perks: Lady D looks pretty imposing with the headset’s added illusion of physical presence, and if you didn’t already wince at Ethan’s non-stop limb trauma, just raising the Sense controllers will probably suffice to examine his half-healed wounds closely. the trick. But the locomotion and handling of items is just so clunky that it’s almost as distracting as it is immersive. That’s especially true when you go backwards to resolve Village‘s puzzles because VR mode simplifies the map in a way that (as far as I know) confines it to your immediate surroundings rather than letting you pan or flip between floors.
That’s a shame, because the moment you stop moving and pull out a gun, VR just feels like the road Village is meant to be played. The shooting in the game is similar to Resident Evil 4 VR: you have a series of weapons attached to your body, and you pretend to pull them from your hip or back to pull them, then reload by taking ammunition from a pouch at your side. It provides a faster pace than gamepad-based combat, and moving your arm to aim a gun (or raise your hands to block an attack) feels much more natural than pushing around with an analog stick . I have some reservations, like the fact that it’s easy to reach back a little too far and grab the card from your back instead of ammo. But it’s fun, mostly intuitive, and incredibly satisfying, right down to the facial twitch that hits every time a real-world shotgun or rifle butt kicks your cheek or shoulder.
Village isn’t quite the easy PSVR 2 win I’d hoped for, and as long as Sony sticks with a wired headset I’m not sure is to win an easy victory. But it at least delivers on the promise of its action elements – and for many people that might be enough.