We all know that The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror movies ever, and whilst its follow ups might not have been so well-received, 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 terrifying 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 whole set taking players around two to three hours to complete. The first three chapters have been available on PlayStation VR for some time, but now the whole collection is available just in time for Halloween.
Despite having the movie’s name tied to the game, The Exorcist: Legion VR actually offers its own unique tale – you’ll just face off against similar demonic entities. It 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 its incredibly eerie atmosphere too.
There’s something incredibly harrowing about exploring these locations though, especially since the game messes with your head by moving objects around or having plenty of noises clatter around you. It’s all well and good having to simply find objects, but when you don’t know what might be hidden around every corner it’s easy to be put off – in a good way, of course. It definitely nails the horror vibe perfectly and it really lends itself well to the investigative gameplay. Add to that the fact you’re playing in virtual reality and… well… it can be bloody terrifying.
You’ll also find equipment that you’ll need to use including the likes of a cross and a lantern, each of which can be utilised to vanquish the demonic presence coming your way throughout the game. Their use is neat and adds something unique to the game’s core investigative gameplay, though it’s always obvious when you need each one so it never becomes one of those things you need to react quickly to. Also, if you do encounter a demon and don’t react in time, the scene resets to a checkpoint to give you another shot – the stakes are certainly low in that respect, though at least it ensures that the pace of the game is never broken. It does emphasise that The Exorcist: Legion VR can feel like more of a horror experience than a full-fledged game at times, though.
In-between exploring each locale, you’ll spend time at the police station. It’s here that you can examine the evidence you’ve found as well as initiate new cases, though you’ll also find yourself receiving strange packages that clue you in on the mystery surrounding your investigation. There’s nothing quite as daunting as knowing something horrifying is ahead of you, and it was these moments that often instilled the most dread in me. There’s a heck of a lot of back story to the game and it’s great that the developers went out of their way to ensure that the player will know all about it.
It should only take you around two to three hours to beat the game, which might put a few players off. There’s isn’t a whole lot of replayability either – whilst there are optional goals to complete that can improve your completion grade of each case, there’s a sense of linearity to the game that makes everything feel all the more predictable the second time around. It’s hard to be scared by the same jump scare twice after all, even if it did make you leap out of your skin the first time. 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 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.
Visually, The Exorcist: Legion VR looks great, with some slick looking environmental design throughout that really lends itself well to the creepy atmosphere. The church you explore in the first chapter is genuinely eerie and, thanks 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. As you progress through the game you’ll start to visit other locales including an asylum, a derelict tomb and, of course, a ‘normal’ family house, and they all look fantastic and do a good job of engrossing you further into the frightening experience. It’s just 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.
PlayStation VR doesn’t have a shortage of horror experiences available right now, but fans of the genre definitely won’t want to miss out on The Exorcist: Legion VR.
It might not necessarily be the meatiest title available and it does lack replay-value, but it gets the core features right: the deep and haunting back story, the enjoyable investigative mechanics, and the terrifying atmosphere and scares that’ll have you frightened right until the very end. What more could you want from a horror title this Halloween?
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive
Platform(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift