Resident Evil four VR Overview: Capcom’s horror on Oculus Quest 2
Regarded – and not without good reason – as one of the best chapters of the Capcom-branded horror saga, the creeping horrors of Resident Evil 4 are preparing to take on another form for the umpteenth time 16 years after the title’s debut to manifest. The “host” organism in this case is Oculus Quest 2, the standalone viewer from Facebook (here you can find our test of Oculus Quest 2), on which the VR edition of Leon’s adventure debuts exclusively. The conversion was entrusted to the Armature Studio team, who did a difficult job: On the one hand, it was necessary to keep the character of the original experience as similar as possible so as not to distort any cornerstone of the series, while the other needed some dynamics to taper to adapt them for use in virtual reality. The playful and technical update is more satisfactory: Resident Evil 4 VR is a respectful new edition, fairly accurate and pleasant to experiment with, provided you approach it with the awareness that you are facing a production that is certainly not comparable to the technical standards of the latest generation is VR games of the generation (Are you looking for a great masterpiece in VR? Read our review on Half-Life Alyx).
Same old big story but in virtual reality
As planned, nothing has changed on the narrative front: The opening takes us to a Spanish village where Leon Kennedy was sent to save Ashley, the daughter of the US President.
Here the protagonist finds himself facing a meandering plague that seems to belong to a mysterious cult (if you want to refresh your memory, we refer to our special about the plot of the Resident Evil series): bizarre and trotting, in an excellent balance between action and suspense The Resident Evil 4 story retains its exuberant polish even after many years. In this VR edition, the cutscenes have remained unchanged and are shown inside the viewer on a screen in front of our eyes, as if we were in a virtual reality representation of a cinema. At the end of the cutscenes, the camera goes back to first-person perspective, which allows us to move freely in a rural setting with timeless charm, dusty and wild, today like in 2005. Given the obvious graphical backwardness (we’re still talking about a game three generations ago) one could make the mistake of calling it “lazy”, the work of Armature. In reality, the restoration carried out by the studio is by no means elementary: Resident Evil 4 VR is a fairly extensive reconstruction with scale environments that adapt to the needs of first-person exploration and with thousands of significantly improved textures.
The need to actively interact with the scenario forced the team to recalibrate the overall experience and consequently change the way the environment responded to our demands. Now some doors can be opened by acting on the knob, as well as the levers can be pulled manually with the Oculus Touch control, and on the same cues both the interaction with puzzles, which are actively solved by the use of the hands, as well as the dynamics of saving where we press the keys of the typewriter with our fingers to print our name on paper.
Even if the view cannot be compared with the most modern VR works, with everything that goes with it in terms of commitment and presence, Armature has not done simple routine work. Thanks to a new audio management system that allows us to perceive sounds from all sides, the studio has also successfully tried to maximize the immersion of the experience and adapt it to the canons of virtual reality.
Resident Evil 4 in VR turns out to be a somewhat captivating reinterpretation and is “fresh” enough to fascinate even those who turn a blind eye to a not so exciting graphics frame, with certainly outdated models and animations from a bygone era, Leon’s adventures already have experienced in traditional format. Finally, sorry for the lack of the Italian translation: a potential deterrent in the eyes of those who do not fully master the English language.
Slaughter infected in VR
Despite the roughness on the graphical front and the limits of an underdeveloped environmental interaction, Resident Evil 4 VR’s action phases benefit from unprecedented intensity and mobility. First of all, we have the option to choose between the option that allows Leon to move freely while shooting, and another that instead prevents the character from moving sideways when aiming with the included weapon, in order to at least partially induce this static . Claustrophobia, which was part of the 2005 title.
Resident Evil 4 opts for total freedom of action and changes its face, not only for the first person use, but also because the filming takes on an obviously different pace with a re-management of the rooms. It’s a clear change that gives the shooting sequences a more adrenaline-charged look, less anxious and tense, but much more exciting. Diving also goes through the ability to grab weapons directly from the protagonist’s digitized body, which is placed at waist, shoulder or chest height: nothing prevents us from choosing a less interactive option with the typical weapon wheel, but obviously this is a solution that undermines the level of participation. Reading the scene during the fights also takes a different form: to find out how much ammunition we still have in the magazine, for example, we have to take a look at Leon’s wristwatch, which also shows the remaining health of our alter ego. If we run out of bullets, we have to reload manually, the action being different depending on the instrument being held: all the details that contribute to noticeably changing the approach to the shooting and the course of the collisions.
From time to time we have to successfully complete a QTE both in the cinematics and in the in-game sequences (for example when we are grabbed by an infected person) and shake the controller in good time. So the playful soul of Resident Evil 4 remains the same, but the dynamics of the gameplay change. It must be said that in the fights not everything works as it should: the feedback from the shots is not always effective and hand-to-hand duels with the knife do not convey proper physicality, with the blade sometimes (yes, often) sinking in the emptiness.
Such edges, combined with the technical limits of production, do not allow a Resident Evil VR to achieve a completely satisfactory level of immersion. Despite these uncertainties, however, the porting of Armature does justice to the atmosphere of the original title and overall manages to blur the obvious boundaries of a product from 2005 that was switched to VR 16 years later.
Thanks also – and above all – the good number of options in terms of personalization of the experience that allow you to adapt the gameplay to your needs: the free movement with the analog stick goes hand in hand with teleportation, it is allowed to play Both in Standing as well as sitting (by adjusting the height) we can adjust the rotation of the view and activate a whole range of other details that should minimize the risk of motion sickness. In short, the number of settings is considerable and helps define the scope of a surely not abandoned operation that exhumed a classic with respect and devotion.