Despite its announcement on PS3, which would have been intended to bring out our PlayStation Moves, Until Dawn finally arrived only a few years later on PS4, abandoning motion-sensing controllers in the process. Monopolizing the codes of slashers/teen movies to brilliantly reinject them into a video game, the developers of Supermassive Games had struck a blow, offering at the same time a narrative title with sometimes radical multiple branches. In 2016, the studio took over the universe of this new license to offer us a daunting rail shooter on PlayStation VR, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. But while we thought the franchise was behind us, at least at the time, the team surprised players by unveiling The Inpatient which is set in the world of Until Dawn.
Is the original game actually tied to Until Dawn? Is fear in VR gripping? Do the decisions impact the course of events? Embark with us on this horror trip.
An immersive dive into the Blackwood Sanatorium
The Inpatient acts as a prequel to Until Dawn since it takes place 60 years before the adventures of this band of students who came to relax in the mountains.. The connections don’t stop at this simple background, as you’ll wander the halls of Blackwood Sanitarium, a place that will speak to those who completed the original game. Who are we ? This is precisely the big existential question that the player will have to answer, a difficult task when one is a victim of amnesia. To recover the memory, you will have to unearth memories that take various forms: a folder to grab and return to be immersed in a flashback, to approach the bars of a door, etc. At the end of the day, these are substitutes for totems except that these fragments offer us a trip to the past, while the statuettes of Until Dawn gave us a glimpse of the future (a sometimes mistaken future to surprise us). Without spoiler, there are many nods to the PS4 exclusive released in 2015, and we advise you to finish it if this is not the case. You will have everything to gain by discovering an excellent game.
The Inpatient breaks through the fourth wall with a mastery that marks a new stage in VR
But let’s get back to The Inpatient… The title begins when the player (whom we’ll call John Doe) wakes up in a dark room, strapped to a wheelchair. An elderly doctor enters the room and makes a shocking revelation: you can address him by … speaking. Yes, speaking. If Until Dawn: Rush of Blood or Farpoint have pushed back immersion in VR via accessories, The Inpatient explodes the fourth wall with a mastery that marks a new stage in VR through a function already integrated into Sony’s headset. . Of course, it is possible to refuse this voice chat, but you will completely miss this memorable experience (at this level) wanted by the developers.. This idea, in addition to being ingenious, is expertly executed to the point that you will say your lines as a comedian might. You are not a spectator, you are not a player, you are the actor of this descent into madness. This action allows The Inpatient to push the limits of virtual reality, and to show that it works without any problem. We did have problems with one or two sentences, but it was more due to our bad pronunciation. It is indeed necessary to respect the dialogues which appear on the screen, two choices each time, but also the punctuation while having a good diction. It’s stunning and it will be difficult to go back.
It’s amazing and it will be difficult to go back
As for the other controls, Supermassive Games does not impose a specific configuration, the Dualshock 4 and the PlayStation Move being compatible, but we invite you to opt for the illuminated controllers. The movements of your arms will indeed be more natural with the PlayStation Move than with the DS4. If we have not encountered any major problem, everything is not perfect. The Inpatient uses the IKinema technology seen in Farpoint with the aim of having real body awareness, but has some setbacks. For example, if you try to hold your flashlight like an FBI detective, your wrist will go awry with a render that breaks immersion. It can also get stuck quite easily when you approach a stretcher or a door, and you may have difficulty grasping an object.. But overall, the result is satisfactory and is in any case compensated by the lack of interactions. If we were talking more about items that relate to past events, don’t forget to take a good look around you, including your own virtual body…
So on a scale of 1 to 10, does it matter? To answer this question, it is necessary to distinguish between the two parts of the game. The one which takes place in the upper floors of the sanatorium, and the other which explores more the depths of the dispensary. The first is by far the one that contains the best moments of this surreal holiday. Between insects, destroyed cells, torn roof, omnipresence of the color green which re-covers the walls, gates which close violently in a deafening noise highlighting the sound design, the atmosphere is simply excellent. Moreover, THE jumpscare of the title may make more than one cry… To our great dismay, and unlike Until Dawn or Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, this atmosphere will fade when you cross the path of a survivor. From this moment, everything becomes more classic, but above all much too wise. The walking simulator aspect is then felt, and some songs are rather boring. This side, The Inpatient will remain less striking than its brothers, but it erases this weakness by the great immersion allowed in VR.
the atmosphere is simply excellent
And the choices in all of this? Does the butterfly effect turn the protagonists’ lives upside down again? Again, it blows hot and cold. To tell the truth, we regret only one thing: not to have had more changes with regard to the decorations of the first part. We have made sure to take opposite directions, but the differences are almost imperceptible and not sufficiently supported. On the other hand, and as in Until Dawn, the epilogue may be upset, and it is not certain that you will be able to save your companions… One of the gimmicks from the original may still be there… but we won’t say, it’s up to you to think about and find out once the game is in your console. To write this test, we did two full runs, and resumed our post-game save that brings you back seconds before the events that could really alter the course of the story, in order to preview the possible endings. Therefore, the life of The Inpatient is in the top of the basket of VR productions, Skyrim apart of course, and you will spend at least 5 hours there. Even if the graphics are secondary in virtual reality, know that the game is one of the most beautiful to date, in spite of a perhaps too pronounced aliasing causing flickering in places, at least on the base PS4.
- – The way to break the fourth wall for an unprecedented immersion
- – Very neat graphically speaking
- – A first part where everything happens
- – The sound design
- – The Until Dawn universe and the links with the original game
- – The different possible outcomes
- – Some gameplay hiccups
- – Few differences in the places visited
- – Making the second part weaker
Is The Inpatient the slap that the various demos foreshadowed? Yes and no. On the one hand, Supermassive Games is kicking in the anthill by pushing the limits of VR and breaking the fourth wall brilliantly, thanks to the functionality that allows you to interact vocally with the protagonists, while offering a very good first part on several aspects. However, the second part returns to something more down-to-earth, wiser, and by extension, much less striking. Likewise, the characters and story are weaker than Until Dawn, but the choices may well change the ending of your adventure. In the end, and if we regret that the whole is not more homogeneous than that, The Inpatient is a game to do for all owners of PlayStation VR.