To promote the Blu-Ray and DVD release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Starburst were invited along to try out the new Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Sony PlayStation VR game and a zombie themed escape room at Breakin’ Escape Rooms London.
First up, RE7: Biohazard. Now admittedly, this writer hasn’t been a gamer for a good few years and only tried out the ‘new’ virtual reality technology once last year. He remembers the original Resident Evil game fondly, visiting his local Game in Bargate Shopping Centre, Southampton to get a chance to play it.
We put the headset on, adjusting the focus, and was pleased at how well it fit. Then, was in the game. Immediately we were struck at how impressive the graphics were, as we explored an abandoned plantation house. It’d be an understatement to say the game is intense. Immersed in the VR world, you constantly move your head around to see what’s lurking behind you, or in dark corners, as you shuffle along a claustrophobic passageway. You descend a ladder into dark, murky water knowing there’s bound to be an utter bastard of a zombie nearby. Fortunately, or rather disappointingly, we didn’t encounter any undead in the 10 minutes we played the game, but there was plenty of gore and the odd corpse.
It reminded this writer of the original game, only this time you feel like you’re actually in the house, with that same fearful anticipation of not knowing what’s coming next. Maybe it was because of the beer beforehand, or from staring at a computer screen all day, but this writer felt a little dizzy after a while and had to stop. Whilst moving your head allows you to look around, it is still a strange sensation to ‘walk’ using a joypad whilst sat down. You can also make sharp 90 degree turns using the pad as well, without having to turn your head, which takes a bit of getting used to. You just need some conditioning we suppose. The game is definitely worth trying out in VR and will be a must have for fans of the genre.
Barely recovering from that experience, it was now time to test out the Resident Evil themed escape room. Already on edge – although not as on edge as the guy next to us nervously flicking a fidget spinner, we were herded into a group and we were briefed on our task. This writer was naïve enough to think our room was the well-lit one with the helpful Umbrella Corp lab technician (a lovely chap paying his bills when not attending acting auditions). Nope, we were in the pitch black room where we had to find a key to the cure for the virus. Cue a well made-up zombie, a prosthetic limb or two, and off we went. You usually have 60 minutes to complete the mission but we had 30. These things are always interesting as a sociological experience because you see the dynamics of the group – egos reveal themselves, leaders emerge and heroes are born with every small find.
This writer always imagined these rooms to be a kind of mini-Crystal Maze and he was right. But this one was very impressive and well done, with a lot of attention to detail. Mental and physical puzzles were combined with technology and some good old fashioned room searching. We also had a walkie talkie to ask for the occasional hint, although we did well to rarely use it. We worked out how to get the lights on, a key was found which led to a case, inside that were some clues and a round chip that lead to a chain reaction puzzle. There was a compass, a good old fashioned claw crane game, a coded colour panel and many tasks that involved the team working together, or in one case separating into different rooms. And, of course, there was a zombie. All in all it was great fun and our group was – thankfully – pretty collaborative and cheerful. One person started strongly only to be scared shitless by the sudden appearance of the zombie, and there were parts for everyone to play as a variety of puzzles and challenges needed conquering. Needless to say, we escaped the room alive, with the cure, and with all of our limbs intact.
Unfortunately, the theme is not a permanent fixture, but there are at least six themed rooms at Breakin’, including a pirate themed room, a superhero theme and a Sherlock Holmes one. We hope the zombie one is introduced permanently as it was great. After all this excitement, it was time for a glass of wine and trying to forget it had been a remarkable 21 years since the fear of Resident Evil was first unleashed upon us.