It’s safe to say that Sony and Supermassive games have had quite the successful relationship with their Until Dawn universe and supporting PSVR. Until Dawn on the PS4 caught everyone by surprise in 2015 with its David Cage-esque approach to teen slasher horror films. Supermassive then launched with Until Dawn: Rush of Blood for PSVR in 2016, which perfectly combined the Until Dawn universe with classic arcade games like The House of the Dead. Just a year later, the developer is set to follow it up with another entry set in the Until Dawn universe, with a story that takes place before the events of the first game. The Inpatient puts players in the shoes of a patient in an asylum operating in the mid-20th century (when professional psychiatric care was a little… underdeveloped) as they try to figure out what the hell is going on… and that’s exactly how I felt in my hands-on demo at EB Expo 2017.
The first thing I wanted to point out was you can pick the gender of your character, creating this real tangible connection to the character you’re playing as, who is conveniently suffering from amnesia. The game takes place 60 years before the first game, and opens up with players strapped to a chair. They are introduced to the head doctor of the asylum who begins asking you a series of questions. Each question I answered lead to a recurring flashback, which I then had to answer questions about to the mysterious doctor. The creepy shrink’s assurances that he was there to help me did little to assuage my fears that he didn’t have my best interests at heart. I kept telling the doctor that each flashback was exactly the same and I could not remember anything before that, and he responded with a suspicious “I see”. Obviously he thinks I’m a few stubbies shirt of a slab, and I’m starting to wonder myself…
The game does an amazing job of nailing the 1950’s vibe whilst transporting you to that time period
One cool aspect brought from the original Until Dawn is dialogue choices, where whenever you are posed with a question you can view a number of dialogue options in the air. Simply looking at them and selecting them initiates the answer. One particular answer produced a number of butterflies (bringing back the butterfly effect from Until Dawn). I’ll be interested to see how the branches split off in the final game as it isn’t a mechanic common in VR titles. I also want to note at one point I saw a silhouette of what looked like a Wendigo (the hideous supernatural creatures from the first game) appear on one of the walls briefly. It is unclear how involved they are in this game, but I appreciate the subtle themes carrying across. I also remember reading about voice input features, but the expo was extremely loud so I wasn’t able to test this.
After the interrogation process, I woke up in my bedroom and was greeted by a support person (let’s call him Joe for the sake of my terrible memory) at the facility. It was then that I was able to walk around and explore the room. The Inpatient uses traditional locomotion using a standard Dualshock controller. Interestingly, pushing the right stick down allows players to turn 180 degrees instantly, which is very handy. Picking up letters and inspecting them is as immersive as ever, and reading certain letters took me to a flashback and progressed the demo.
I couldn’t stop second guessing myself throughout the demo, let alone trust this guy
Towards the end of the demo the game then transported me to the hallway, with Joe urging that I follow him through the halls. As I follow Joe, the halls turn from calm, hospital-white into dirty, prison-green, and haunting sounds emanate from the walls. At the end of the hallway, the path splits into two. Joe took the right, while I saw what looked like a hologram of an elk trot over to the left with a blood trail on the floor. Being the silly animal lover I am, I followed the elk… then a flash… then a scary sound… then it was over.
The graphics are really impressive for a VR game. The character models and animations carry the same fidelity as something like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The doctor in particular felt like he was alive, and I didn’t notice any weird lip-syncing issues or choppy animations. He was as believable as the Sony rep laughing at my reactions through the game… and as mean. The well textured environments had a personality to them and in terms of look and feel it’s exactly what I imagine being crazy in the 1950s would be like. I noticed few aliasing issues and no indication of motion sickness, which was a common theme in all the PSVR demoes I tried at this year’s Expo. The audio design is incredibly haunting and certainly builds up the suspense considerably. The voice acting of the characters I interacted with were also very solid creating a very consistent package in terms of presentation and production value. Make no mistake, this is a triple A game.
The presentational qualities are off the charts! Definitely the triple A game VR owners have been waiting for
I am not a fan of horror games, and truth be told I don’t like being scared. But Supermassive has drawn me in three times in a row with its Until Dawn-themed games. They are fun, engrossing, consistent in tone yet utterly distinct from one other, and The Inpatient might just be the best of the bunch. The production qualities are truly impressive, the controls are on point and I appreciate the dialogue options and choice system. From what I’ve seen so far the story has no small amount of intrigue and the title in general looks set to give you an uncomfortable look into what it might be like to be a patient in an asylum. Just like Until Dawn and Rush of Blood, this game is going to take people by surprise in a very good way.