Until Dawn surprised me when I gratefully completed the story for the first time and much later after unlocking the platinum trophy. This was originally supposed to be an exclusive PS Move game that got ported up to a PS4 and became a cult horror hit. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood surprised me even further with its intuitive controls, fast paced gameplay, and genuine scares for a rail shooter. This wasn’t expected to happen for a PSVR launch title. Now we enter the next chapter of this franchise thanks to The Inpatient. The series was riding incredibly high without a misstep yet. There was no reason to believe this time would be any different. My naivety and lack of hypecheck just cost me forty dollars.
The Inpatient takes place at the Blackwood Sanatorium many decades before our lovable Until Dawn crew stumbled upon its remains. The asylum is still in working order, at least for the beginning anyway, and we find ourselves in the shoes of our unnamed main character. There’s not a lot to go by on who you are as a person, but we’re led to believe, and rightly so, that we’re a patient who needs help. After growing acclimated to this situation we are bunked up with another fellow “patient” just as the sanatorium is overrun by monstrous sounds and panicked screams. Anyone familiar with the threat in this game’s universe surely has an idea on what causes this.
The rest of the story sees our controllable protagonist walking through deserted and blood strewn hallways, listening to people talk, watching things out of your control, and more walking in a boring race for survival. Easter eggs, collectible lore, and more are loosely brought to life in front of you as you witness the very beginning of the franchise’s inception. I’ll avoid saying much else plot wise as it can be considered spoilers even if you are aware of what happens thanks to the other titles in the series. All you need to know is the story gets dull, tedious, and mundane. Nothing in the storyline will impress or bring much fun.
Gameplay isn’t much better as I mentioned there’s a lot of uninterrupted walking around. Besides that, (look I’m not being lazy or sarcastic as there really is A LOT of just WALKING) you can pick up certain items that act as collectibles and make dialogue choices throughout the journey. If you enable it you can even physically speak the dialogue choices through the headset. One, fun, very small part of the game actually had you staying as still as possible with your Move controllers and PSVR headset. Sadly, this didn’t happen as much as it should have. Those choices I mentioned also don’t have much entertainment behind them. You can dictate how conversations will go, but they don’t really contribute to anything as a whole.
What you do control are six “major” events throughout the two-hour adventure. These will dictate what your ending will be and who survives or not. The only problem is the majority of these choices, and others, are vague to the point where you never truly feel in control. Which is a shame considering the Butterfly Effect gimmick was the bread and butter that started the franchise. The scares in this virtual reality horror game you ask? While there are some, two or three really good ones, there’s a distinct lack of frights and terrors. In fact, the main thing that got to me was the sound design and its suddenness in my face. Beyond that expect to become desensitized to a lot with that constant and uneventful walking you’ll do.
Graphics for the PSVR are continuing to evolve and they do so here. Characters aren’t blocky or weirdly proportioned and even have nice face detail. Don’t expect Horizon Zero Dawn or Witcher 3 levels, but I’m happy that developers are finding virtual reality so easy to make realistic. However, some graphical and level design choices I have to question. Most notably being the outside world. At any point you come close to a window you’ll notice a distinct lack of detail out there. Even if a blizzard is going on. Other times there won’t be enough light to see what’s going on within the walls. What’s worse is the mission structure always fades to black and leaves you confused and clueless as to what’s going on. Especially so when your stuck in a cutscene you didn’t even know you were in.
The last thing that deserves to be reamed are the controls. As the supposed psychotic patient, you control their arms with the motion controllers. You can grasp things and push things as you’d expect. The movement strangely enough, requires the left controller’s Move button to be held while you turn by holding the right controller’s Move button and moving left or right. You can also point back and do a one hundred and eighty degree turn too except it’s mostly pointless. Moving provided me with so many problems that took out the horror of this experience before anything else. I mean there wasn’t even a button to walk backwards and if there was it wasn’t clearly pointed out. Things would have been so much better with a DualShock 4 and my arm wouldn’t have gotten stuck in an elevator.
The Inpatient PSVR Review
The Inpatient was definitely an anticipated PSVR game this year. The constant success of the peripheral and the Until Dawn world should have made this title another hit. There are no words to describe how this wasn’t the case and how badly things went wrong. For the first time in awhile I regret a purchase and admit this was nowhere near a forty dollar entry fee. Supermassive Games now only has one, future, guaranteed sale from yours truly and that’s Until Dawn 2.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a retail copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.