Released January 23, 2018
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
System: Playstation 4 (Played on the PS4 PRO)
Since I’m the only one who has a Playstation VR, it is my distinct pleasure to bring you the first VR game review. This week I will be reviewing Supermassive Game’s “The Inpatient”.
Set as a prequel to Supermassve’s hit “Until Dawn”, the game brings us a unique insight in to the events leading up to the dark and frightening events we see. We take control of the amnesia suffering patient in the Blackwood Sanitorium. We’re asked what we remember by a very familiar face, and from the beginning, it isn’t much. The player navigates through a series of flashbacks, hallucinations and character interactions that give a glimpse in to why they’re there, pieces together their identity and finds out what is happening in this eerie asylum.
“Lets go for a walk” (image borrowed from www.gry-online.pl)
So what did I think of the game?
Part of what makes the game innovative, is that it puts you in the shoes of the player character. You’re allowed gender and race choices, and you voice the protagonist as well. The PS Camera microphone picks up your voice, with varying degrees of accuracy, and the game recognizes and chooses the proper dialogue. The game utilizes a butterfly effect in your choices, so that some dialogue options will lead to more of the mystery being uncovered.
“…and you hear me!” (image borrowed from www.game-focus.com)
It kept all the charm that Until Dawn provided and utilized the Playstation VR capabilities quite well. The dark and ominous, almost claustrophobic, ward room sets the mood for the start of the game. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the later sprawling corridors of Blackwood. The VR complimented the design of each area perfectly, and I felt the want and need to wander around the place, never to follow the musings of characters.
This game looked fantastic. You get some real close ups with some of the characters, environments and interactable items in the game; they all look transcendent. The motion capture allowed for fluid interactions between characters. After being an early adopter of the Playstation VR, I had reservations on just how intense the graphics could get. Let me ease your fears, if you have them; these games look good. You can see the hair and sweat of a character, the dust falling from the rafters and the outdoor scenes, through brief, are gorgeous. And hey! You can look down at your whole body. It is intense.
One of the most important parts of the game is the sound design. This doesn’t just encompass how the game sounds, but how you interact with the characters. While some games might rely on a backing track for a sanitorium, one filled wiith screams and defiant no’s repeated ad nauseum, the game sounds react entirely to where you are in the room and the sound gives way to the maddening landscape of your surroundings. Whether you’re approaching a door, and you hear Doctors and Patients talking outside, or you’re testing every interactable in the room; from knobs to drawers, it all sounds good.
Throughout my game, I flipped back and forth between the Dualshock 4 and the Playstation Move Controllers. The Dualshock provided a much smoother experience than the move controllers. During my playthrough, I was playing an unpatched version, so things may be slightly different, but the controls was where the experience fell a bit short for me. I strugged to maintain a comfortable position where I wasn’t twisting my left wrist to keep my flashlight trained on the hallway before me. Visually, it looked like The Patient’s wrist was made of plasticine, twisting awkwardly into a screw shape with a hand at the end. Navigation also became an issue when I was using the Move controllers. It took me a while to get adjusted to the point and walk movement style of the VR, but it wasn’t overly gamebreaking. My personal opinion, you’re going to be much more comfortable playing with your regular controller.
“This Inpatient needs a Doctor.” (image taken from personal Screenshot library on PS4)
It does have a level of replay-ability as well. There are quite a few trophies for a VR game. I only achieved 40% of them on my first play-through, which gives those who hunt trophies an added incentive to give the game a few tries, play through all the dialogue options, unlock all the memories which will give the player further insight in to the Inpatient’s story.
Ultimately, the game was a technical success, but it fell short in several categories. It was far too short. Even while exploring, it took only three hours to complete, which makes the $53.49 price tag a bit harsh. There was simply not enough to do. The amount of effort put in to the cinematics outweighed the amount of actual gameplay involved, and most of the gameplay was restricted to the linear routes through the asylum, guided through with only sporatic dialogue.
Should you get this game? You should for two very different reasons. If you’re a fan of Until Dawn, this is a great look into the precursors for the game. The second reason is that you’re a VR owner and you’re looking for a good time killer. The game, while expensive, is pretty good. I was looking forward to seeing what it could bring and it met expectations. Could it have been longer? Yes. But VR games tend to be short so it’s not uncomfortable for the user. I could see sequels in the Until Dawn franchise utilizing the Playstation VR, and I hope it does. So, go pick it up!
Lee “Princess Giggles”