We all know that The Exorcist is one of the greatest movies ever, and whilst its follow ups might not have been so good, the name alone does enough to stir up feelings of horror in most people’s minds. Mixing that up with virtual reality can only be a good thing then, right? Following on from similar horror-movie adaptations like Paranormal Activity and Don’t Knock Twice, The Exorcist: Legion VR brings frightening showdowns with demons to PlayStation VR gamers. It’s an enjoyably frightening experience too, though one that’s as brief as it is sinister.
The Exorcist: Legion VR is an episodic title, with the full game seeing five chapters in total. Each of these chapters are designed to be short but full of detail, with the full game expected to take players around two to three hours to complete. Whilst the first three chapters are available on PlayStation VR right now, this review will focus on the first chapter with a more complete review coming when everything is released.
The Exorcist: Legion VR puts you in the shoes of a detective who discovers a strange demonic presence whilst investigating the murder of a priest in a church. This leads him to investigate other cases that all have a hint of the supernatural about them in the hope that he’ll find out the truth behind what exactly is going on.
Uncovering this truth involves exploring a variety of different crime scenes, with the first taking place in the aforementioned church. You have to look around the environment, find evidence that pushes the story forward, and, of course, witness plenty of creepy things unfold in front of you. A lot of the time the game resorts to jump scares, but it also does a good job of unnerving the player with an incredibly eerie atmosphere too.
You’ll also find equipment that you’ll need to use including the likes of a cross and a lantern, though they’re not heavily used in the first chapter – instead, they’re introduced to the player with a larger emphasis placed on them in the later chapters of the game. A lot of the first chapter is actually based around acclimatising the player to playing The Exorcist: Legion VR, though it still manages to offer plenty of entertainment in its roughly thirty-minute runtime.
The problem with the short runtime is that there isn’t a whole lot on offer to keep you coming back. I played through the first chapter twice and during my second playthrough everything felt a little too predictable – you won’t jump at the same scare twice whilst you pretty much know where everything is. There’s also not a whole lot extra to do, with the only real incentive to re-visit chapters being finding any evidence you might have missed. Still, it’s a horror game, so at least you can get the satisfaction of seeing your friends and family suffer through its many frights time and time again…
You can play through The Exorcist: Legion VR – Chapter One with either the DualShock controller or two Move controllers, though I’d recommend the latter – movement is easier with the DualShock, but being able to reach out and grab each piece of evidence around you is a lot more satisfying.
Besides, the movement controls of the Move controllers are easy to pick up, with the face buttons used to move forward or turn around. It’s the same sort of thing that’s worked fine in releases like Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, so it should feel familiar to seasoned PlayStation VR gamers. Of course, those who don’t like free locomotion can always teleport around the map too, so there’re options in place for all comfort settings.
My only real issues with the controls was that exploring the menus could be a little clunky (too many fiddly buttons to press) and that character movement always had compulsory blinders in place that add a jarring black rim around your view. Sure, I can appreciate that they’re there to make movement feel more comfortable for players, but I wish there was a way to turn them off for gamers who have their virtual reality bearings. Oh, and the movement speed is way too slow too, even after adjusting it in the menu. Hopefully these are all issues that can be fixed in future patches for the game.
Visually, The Exorcist: Legion VR – Chapter One looks great, with some slick looking environmental design throughout that really lends itself well to the creepy atmosphere. The church you explore is genuinely eerie and, thank to some well-placed lighting and ambient effects, feels haunting to explore. It probably helps that there are some real grotesque sights to see though, which are again very well presented. It really is an impressive game to look at and it’s clear that the developers have put a lot of effort into putting together meaningful locales that are packed with little details to discover.
As mentioned, this review only really covers the first chapter of The Exorcist: Legion VR, but I have had a chance to play the others that are available right now. Spoiler alert: they’re scary as heck and involve a bit more interaction from the player, so there’s certainly more to look forward to.
The Exorcist: Legion VR – Chapter One feels like it’s all about teaching the gamer how to play the game and how some of its mechanics work, and it does a decent job of it – I fell victim to plenty of frights as I was playing through it but at least I started to figure out what I was doing. I just feel as though it might’ve been better off releasing for free with future episodes coming at a cost, especially since they’re a bit more involving as far as player interaction is concerned. That’s not to say that it’s not worth investing in, but rather that later chapters feel a bit more fleshed out – even if they are as brief in length as this one is.
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift