Ever wondered what it would be like to wake up with no memory and find yourself stuck inside a creepy Sanatorium? Probably not but that is the very setting that you’re confronted with in The Inpatient and as you can imagine it isn’t going to be a walk in the park to get through this PSVR psychological horror.
The Inpatient is set around 60 years before the events of Until Dawn, so those who have played Until Dawn will have some context to The Inpatient. Prior knowledge of Until Dawn isn’t required although being in the know will give you a greater understanding of what to expect from The Inpatient.
Before you start to your journey inside the mental hell-hole that is Blackwood Sanatorium, you’ll be given the ability to choose the gender and skin colour of your character. From there you can either make use of a DualShock 4 controller or the PS Move controllers.
Once the character specifics have been chosen your journey begins as you wake up in 1952 stuck in a wheelchair with a severe case of amnesia and a Doctor right there pressing you about the tiny bits of memory that you do have. Of course this only leads to you having more questions than you do answers and so with curiosity spiked, it’s off to your room in Blackwood Sanatorium and time to meet your far-from mentally stable roommate. Within the sterile confines of your room you’ll have the opportunity to get used to the control scheme. Word for the wise though, as with most VR games the Move Controllers lend themselves to a much more immersive experience than the Dual Shock 4. You’ll also be able to use your voice to make choices during the game to add further immersion rather than just choosing a sentence on the screen you’ll say it out loud. It’s during these early moments that a couple of things become apparent – 1 you cannot walk backwards and 2 collision detection is a bit off but that being said you can actually see your entire body so unlike most VR games you actually have legs!
As the game gets going things in the Sanatorium start to get a bit strange (who would have thought right?!). The nurse stops coming round to see how you’re doing, the chef must have died because food no longer comes and instead of human interactions you start to hear a hell of a lot of screaming and wailing coming from all over your lovely mental home.
Everytime you wake up you can take comfort in the fact that your descent into madness gets a little bit closer as your room (and your roommate) deteriorate faster than a pair of undies worn by Fat Bastard. Of course added into that mix is the fact you can remember sweet f-all so it’s safe to say you are pretty much screwed from this point out.
As The Inpatient moves on exploration becomes a key component of the game. It can at times get a bit tedious but one thing the game does very well is focus more on building tension and a sense of dread rather than relying on jump scares. It is the atmosphere within the Sanatorium that quickly immerses you. The exploration can get a bit tedious but The Inpatient’s engrossing use of sound helps compliment the visual cues presented in this unholy asylum. Of course those sounds you hear in this distance eventually start to get closer and closer until you just know that the shit is going to hit the fan at anytime and it’s that sense of impending doom thta gets the heart racing at heart-attack inducing levels. As you near the end of this adventure fans of Until Dawn will notice a little challenge involving lights makes an appearance and it is a tension filled walk from building to building that will have many a player shitting themselves with fear.
A big plus for The Inpatient is that it makes use of Until Dawn’s butterfly effect system which means there is plenty of replayability to the game. Every decision you make within the game will have consequences, thus some questions you may have still have after one playthrough may actually be answered in subsequent playthroughs when you make different decisions.
Perhaps the biggest let down for me is the length of The Inpatient, or lack thereof should I say. The core experience only last about two hours which for a game that is costing around $70 doesn’t offer a particularly strong value proposition. Yes the butterfly effect does mean that additional playthroughs can provide more answers but a couple of hours is just not satisfactory at the price they are charging for The Inpatient despite it being one of the better VR experiences out there.
That being said though, take the price out of it and Supermassive Games have once again proven that they are masters of the horror genre. Until Dawn is an excellent horror game and the Inpatient sits inside that same world created by Until Dawn and compliments it very well (I just wish it were longer).