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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Resident Evil HD

The twisting halls of the Spencer Mansion are burned into your memory but you’ve never seen them like this before. The dim lights now cause you to squint to see the end, the corners are completely obscured, and the windows simply showcase a thick army of trees for miles to see. We’ve learnt to walk the rooms of the Spencer Mansion countless times before, but we’ve never truly stepped foot in it.

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This week sees Capcom celebrate the birth of its iconic survival horror franchise with a rerelease of the Gamecube remake of the original Resident Evil. VRFocus has looked at this series before, mainly focusing on the tense, pressured battles of the later titles in the series. But what could VR do for the series now that’s been updated?

Of course adding VR doesn’t dictate a first-person view must also be implemented into this storied title. It would certainly be interesting to implement a Lucky’s Tale-esque third-person camera, with protagonists Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield popping into life. The trouble here is that Resident Evil achieves much of its uncertain atmosphere by obscuring player’s view, quickly cutting to a new, static camera angle every time players move into a new area. This is an obvious no-go for VR.

Instead, a first-person perspective could be implemented to make players feel like they’re actually inside the mansion like never before. Opening doors for yourself and peering through the crack to see gloomy corridors stretching out with zombies mindlessly shuffling along could recapture that same sense of fear the series achieved when it was first released. Players could use the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus’ motion tracking to lean around corners, trying to catch a glance of the path ahead without alerting other enemies. You might feel you’re safe one moment, only to peer around and find a set of teeth inches away from your neck.

There are still some issues with even this potential approach. Resident Evil has become somewhat infamous for its ‘tank controls’, a purposefully tricky control system that is designed to limit player’s ability to fight back. This idea doesn’t translate as well to VR as players need total control over their body to avoid issues with simulation sickness and become fully immersed. That said, this calls for something of a reimagining for the title’s puzzles and combat, presenting some unique ‘made for VR’ options. Imagine puzzles where the player studies artefacts with precision and memorises patterns based on sight.

Resident Evil is a horror classic and something that springs to mind the moment you think of VR’s potential hopefully Capcom are planning some sort of implementation with the franchise.