SDCC 16: Resident Evil Biohazard Demo Impressions

So I’ll be the first to admit I am way behind in publishing this story, but please cut me some slack as I’ve been trying to rest up after the four day adrenaline-induced exhaustion that is Comic Con!  So yes, there was a tech demo of the new Resident Evil game at Comic Con this year; however, by the way it was set-up, it was nearly impossible to get in!  What they would do is give out 100 tickets to eager participants per day, and that was it.  If you weren’t there pretty much immediately when the floor opened to grab a ticket, which seemed only possible if you were one of the annoying people who camp out overnight for stuff like this (I am not because I am a human being who likes proper bedding), chances are you weren’t getting one.  But I kept trying, and sure enough, on Sunday morning, the least crowded morning of the convention, I made a beeline for the ticket line and managed to grab one pretty easily!

It was also to my dismay that they seemed to open up the demo to everyone later this same day, but the heck with it!  I got my ticket and was definitely going to use it!  So when my time came, I made my way through the crowds until I reached the fake house that lied towards the back of the convention, where the demo that promised to make me shit my pants lied in wait.  I give them my ticket and they let me in to the small, cramped room with a simple wooden chair where they had me sit, the VR headset, and the television screen.  When they placed the headset on me, they informed me that the game was still early on so the buttons on the controller didn’t do much of anything, but I could use my hands using the motion detector.

The demo began and I found myself sitting on a chair very eerily like the one I’m sitting on in real life.  I looked at my hands, and found them bound with no clear way to break them free.  I could look around and see my legs and shoulders to the point that it really does feel like you’re in that room.  The room I was in was dimly lit except for a camera in front of me that’s flashing a blinding light in my face.  The man running the demo encouraged me to reach out and touch the camera, but not to knock it over.  So naturally, I immediately knocked it over on accident.  But this was to my benefit, as another captive nearby woke up, and tried to break me out.  Yeah, I don’t think I even need to say what happens to this poor fellow.

So after his swift and untimely death, I’ve come face to face with one ugly S.O.B. who was starring me down like she’s wondering what spices will go well with my eyeballs.  This was where the game really approaches the uncanny valley as she stabbed me in the leg. I had to remind myself that I feel no pain, so I’m probably okay in real life, but that doesn’t change the constant sense of unease and worry as she gets closer and closer and I can’t help but pull my head further and further away, trying to get away from the psychotic woman looking to murder me.  Until the other captive, previously thought dead, burst back into the room and tried to save me, but he failed and the woman dragged him around the corner where I can no longer see either one of them.  I couldn’t see what was happening, but I could hear every bit of it, and it sounds like it’s coming from every direction, which is really causing a slight panic attack in me as I’m frantically turning my head all around the room trying to find the source.  Needless to say, when the head came rolling around the corner, it was safe to say this journey wasn’t go to end well for me, and it didn’t.

Of all the VR demos I tried over the weekend at Comic Con, this was, by far, the most impressive.  It’s quite frankly getting scary how good the VR technology is getting and the fact is that it can transport you into this horrifying world and give you these genuine feelings of anxiety and dread, unlike anything I’ve experienced in VR.  There were times when I had to remind myself that these things I were seeing weren’t real, particularly when my character was stabbed or touched in some way.  Although, that does highlight a still existing issue with VR. You don’t feel anything when you’re touched in a VR game (not like that, pervs), and it does take you out of the moment.  As of right now, with all this awesome technology at our disposal, it’s still hard to feel that immersion that you feel when you’re using a simple controller.  But with the technology that looks this good now, this early in its infancy, I can only imagine how much it will evolve in the years to come.  This demo made me really want invest in my own VR headset, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes from here!

Michael Medina

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