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Review

MADiSON VR Review

Expanding your view(finder)

When I originally reviewed MADiSON back in 2022, I applauded the game for its atmosphere, interesting core mechanic and terrifying creature design. These components kept me on my toes for majority of the game’s reasonably short runtime, but a tedious amount of backtracking and a frustrating inventory system made the whole experience feel much longer than it was, and not in a positive way. Moving into a space where horror reigns supreme, MADiSON VR is my second go in this photo-obsessed murder house, but will the leap into virtual reality be enough to smooth over my gripes with the original?

For those who haven’t played the standard (flat?) version of MADiSON, you play as Luca, a young man with a shaky memory of recent events who finds himself in a spooky house that has an even shakier grip on reality. Unchanged for the VR version, the story told throughout the game’s three-to-five-hour runtime can be a little messy, dealing with various timelines and generational curses, but it’s one that I was I morbidly pleased to revisit.

As this is a port, the frustrating nature of some of the game’s puzzles is still present, with the novelty of tangibly interacting with the environment heightening the irritation in some moments, while completely masking them in others. The key mechanic in MADiSON is your instant print camera, which is used to capture images, both as a journal and reminder, and as a method to trigger supernatural happenings. The camera was already a highlight in the original game, but physically taking the picture and shaking the image to help it develop is wonderfully novel, and I never tired of following Andre 3000’s advice.

The other side of this coin comes with interacting with objects in the world. The controls themselves are fairly solid, with a flick of the wrist letting you grab things from afar, but using items and opening doors can get a little awkward, with your hand clipping through objects, pushing them around in strange ways and not always accurately representing your movements. Worse still, the pointless inventory system is back, with a new wrinkle. Not only are you limited to holding ten items, but you can’t pick up an item and then use it in the environment immediately, as the game forces you to place it in your inventory first. Technically this is the same as the base game, but it’s all the more perplexing in VR.

The puzzling and item management might be a bit of a mixed bag in the move to VR, but the tense atmosphere and frightening moments are all massively amplified. The already excellent lighting and sound design are even more effective when you’re occupying the space in 360 degrees, and the flash of your camera lighting your way feels infinitely scarier, as you anticipate a demon in the darkness. I’ve played the game before, I know where the scares will be, but that didn’t dull the terror slightly, as my cardiologist can attest.

The visuals continue to impress, just as they did in the original. Aside from your own hands looking a bit too much like a mannequin, the house and other locations that I won’t spoil, had a sharpness to them that many VR games often lack. Sure, everything is either bloodied or otherwise rundown, but the textures don’t look muddy or unnatural, they look fittingly gross and unsettling.

Final Thoughts

In some cases, a move to VR fundamentally changes your experience, with Resident Evil Biohazard and Village being two easy examples. While MADiSON doesn’t fall quite into that category, I can easily say that the enhanced immersion found in VR makes it my preferred version. The fear is ratcheted up significantly thanks to what VR offers on a foundational level, and the impressive audio-visual elements continue to shine through. With that being said, MADiSON, at its core, has issues that a jump to another platform can’t fix. The inventory system is an outright detractor, the tedious backtracking is still ever-present, and the uneven VR implementation can get in the way of a good fright. I’m still critical of MADiSON on its ground floor, but VR is definitely the right fit.

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Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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MADiSON VR Review
Insidious Exposure
The move to virtual reality strengthens what makes MADiSON an effective scare machine, while shining a light on its poor design choices and slightly wonky VR implementation.
The Good
Visuals and audio have translated over well
VR has done wonders for the freight factor
Physically taking photos is novel
The Bad
The inventory system makes even less sense
Backtracking will be worse if you get motion sick
VR implementation is uneven
6.5
Has A Crack
  • Bloodious Games
  • Bloodious Games
  • PSVR2 / PC
  • May 3, 2024

MADiSON VR Review
Insidious Exposure
The move to virtual reality strengthens what makes MADiSON an effective scare machine, while shining a light on its poor design choices and slightly wonky VR implementation.
The Good
Visuals and audio have translated over well
VR has done wonders for the freight factor
Physically taking photos is novel
The Bad
The inventory system makes even less sense
Backtracking will be worse if you get motion sick
VR implementation is uneven
6.5
Has A Crack
Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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