Horror games are tough to get right. But virtual reality has ushered in all kinds of opportunities to make even laughably tame scares rush the blood, as being put directly in the action ups the scare factor considerably. So, developer Wolf & Wood Interactive Ltd. had the dark idea to plop gamers into the world of The Exorcist with their latest creation. Read our The Exorcist: Legion VR review to see if this twisted world is worth visiting on the PlayStation VR.
A Different Scare
What scares one person may not necessarily scare the next, so while individual mileage may vary, Legion VR has some legitimate scares packed into its two-hour runtime. It’s remarkable how much more intense scares feel in VR, especially in this game. You see, Legion VR is best played while standing up. It was originally released on Steam, with a room-scale design. When a monster or demon runs up to or through you, your brain can be easily tricked into instinctively reacting. The result is that a scare which normally might elicit a small jump when playing in traditional 2D, can cause more intense reactions, even shrieks, gasps, and goosebumps, simply because your brain makes things more real. While the PSVR doesn’t do full room-scale tracking, the movement tracking available is sufficient to allow standing up to work. As usual, a large play area is required to fully enjoy the experience.
A high frame rate is required to keep VR experiences comfortable, and Legion VR keeps things smooth for most of the adventure. Only in the last chapter, which took place in a unique cave level, was any slowdown encountered, and even then while performing unnecessary backtracking. Visuals are surprisingly crisp, perhaps due to the small areas in which most of the action takes place. Maggots feasting on corpses have never looked fresher!
Listen for Danger
Audio work ratchets up scare factor just as much as visuals, sometimes even more so. Legion VR shines in this regard. The PSVR’s built-in headset supports 3D audio, something that is used to spectacular effect here. Sudden whispering voices can sound like they are right behind you, while clicking on an in-game cell phone somehow makes it sound as though the Move controllers have speakers of their own. If the grotesque, dark visuals convince your brain that you’re in hell, or something like it, then the audio experience cements that feeling.
The Exorcist: Legion VR offers support for the DualShock 4 and Move controllers. Naturally, the Move controllers feel more intuitive, and it’s obvious the game was designed with them in mind. Controls are simple enough to figure out in a few minutes, as both hands can be used for inventory, or to interact with the environment. Each of the five levels offer up plenty to interact with, as well. This includes hanging pig heads, candles, children’s toys, pop-up books, knives, bottles, filing cabinets, an entire miniature house, etc. Almost everything in a given environment can at least be held, though not everything is necessarily useful.
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An Experience First, A Game Second
Indeed, Legion VR is at its core an adventure game, almost to the point of being a point-and-click, but presented in VR. The player is tasked with collecting as many clues as possible, before venturing out and triggering a scare to progress the story. Using an exorcism toolkit, the right object must be thrown or fired at an enemy in order to move on. Failure isn’t really an option, as receiving damage or getting hit by a demon simply resets that section, going back in time by a couple of seconds at most. At the end of each chapter, the player can check their grade, which can be increased by fulfilling certain objectives shown on a clipboard before playing the level again. Legion VR seems to aim to be an experience first, and game second in this regard.
This mantra is evident in the extreme linearity of each chapter. All events play out in exactly the same way, at least when it comes to plot points and scares. There’s no roaming enemies to keep track of, and while you can pick up key objects in any order, it doesn’t change anything in the way things play out. This means that, like a scary movie, the first time through is the scariest things will ever get for most people. Since this is VR, your brain can still send you a “fight or flight” signal for some of the larger scares, even if you know they are coming, but this is more an awesome side effect of the VR medium than the result of any particular design mechanism.
The Exorcist: Legion VR launches at a perfect time, near Halloween. While the adventure may be incredibly short, it is one that groups may enjoy, to see how others react to the horrors that await within. However, much like a scary movie or haunted house, once you know where the scares are located, they don’t have the same oomph as the first time through. With variability all but removed, the replayability of Legion VR dwindles rapidly. Despite this, horror fans should check out The Exorcist: Legion VR for some of the most intense, if brief, scares available on any medium.
The Exorcist: Legion VR review code provided by publisher. Version 1.06 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.