Developer / Publisher – Vertigo Games
Price – US $29.99 / CAN 34.99 / EU €29.99 / UK £24.99
Release Date – October 19th, 2023
Input – 2 x Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store Links – PlayStation, Steam, Meta
Reviewed on – PSVR 2
This is The 7th Guest VR, a re-imagining of the original 1993 CD-ROM classic that delivers unparalleled mystery, a ton of puzzles and some cutting edge tech that brings this spooky mansion, and it’s past occupants, to life. It’s awesome to see classic games and franchises get new life in VR…as long as they are good, so let’s see how this re-imagining of a 30-year-old puzzler fares in Virtual Reality.
I have only ever heard of the 7th Guest in passing as I was but a wee lad when this dropped and this was a little before my PC gaming days. The original game is held in high regard thanks to its (back then) state of the art pre-rendered visuals, mature story and engaging puzzles. Vertigo games has effectively repeated that formula, offering up some impressive presentation thanks to 3D volumetric video capture, all new puzzles and that same in-depth story.
Like many mystery games, you start off not knowing who you are. Paddling a boat, you see a mansion looming in the distance with the singular path guiding you to its front doors. You are equipped with a spirit lantern that lets you view the past as in wherever you shine it, it’s beam of light will reveal what the mansion and the items in it looked like when the place was a kept up. The narrative is quickly thrust upon you once you walk into the mansion as you begin to view events from the past as 7 guests from a previous era were also invited to unravel some of the house’s mysteries. What ensues is a fantastic mystery told in a not-quite linear fashion thanks to some choices that let players solve rooms and puzzles in whatever order they like. It’s a great way to ease some pressure as when I did find a puzzle that perplexed me, moving on to another and coming back later often helped me see the puzzle in a new light and find the solution that was eluding me.
Standard VR first-person controls are at play with the trigger in each hand summoning either your lantern, or a map with a Ouija board type token that allows you see what rooms are available to walk too, which rooms have been solved as well as how many story elements and hidden coins you have found. Should you get stuck, you can refer to your Ouija board for clues or use those coins to solve the puzzle you may be stuck on which can feel a little cheap, but for those that care more about the story, it’s a great way to keep it flowing. You can play this using teleport, smooth locomotion or a mixture of both with optional blinders as well as seated or standing play, though I found the seated play to have me too short for some sections of the game and I think a height slider could be used here to help immerse the players as opposed to making them to short, or in some case too tall.
Navigating the mansion is easy enough but it’s those puzzles where thing get tricky as the ones in here I found to be relatively unique and can at times be quite confusing. With that said, I rarely got stuck and while some puzzles did hold me for a fair time, they never felt impossible. While I found most of the puzzles to be quite clever and engaging, a few require some pretty careful motions or finger poking and I often ended up hitting a neighbouring button, or moving something I didn’t mean too. This made some puzzles rather frustrating, especially the “jewel’ puzzles where my hand often collided with nearby jewels, ruining me efforts and forcing unintended restarts of the puzzles. For those looking for larger, environmental puzzles, The 7th Guest opts instead for smaller scale conundrums, with each room containing a few smaller puzzles akin to older point and click style games of which the original was. Beyond the smaller scale puzzles and erratic collision detection is one the better “traditional” puzzle games I have played in VR made all the better by the top-notch presentation.
Now, I’m not going to say that this is the best-looking VR game I’ve ever seen but it’s pretty good outside of some simple textures, minor pop-in and underwhelming lighting effects on the puzzles. What is impressive though is the attention to detail on just about every element in the house as it does look and feel like a gothic haunted mansion. Where it may be lacking in realism, it makes up for in spectacle thanks to that spirit lantern that reveals the past. I loved shining that lantern on every painting, wall and item I could just see that glamour of what once was. The 2nd most impressive thing is the 3D capturing of all the actors. I’ve seen this sort of tech used in other VR titles, but never to this effect as usually when people are captured in 3D, previous titles had me stationary, only viewing a scene from a singular angle but in 7th Guest, you can freely walk about any cinematic to view however you please. It’s not perfect as some of the actors features and textures can look a little off for a brief second or 2, but given the ethereal nature of these scenes, I quickly moved past any visual hiccups and just enjoyed seeing these actors fully realized in VR. Other elements that go a long way to adding to the realism are the reflections on many shiny surfaces as well smaller details like the splashes in a pot as you drop food in it or the rain falling on all the windows. Any issues I have with the presentation are minor at worst with the game exuding a quality and care we need to see more of.
For the Quest 3 version, the game remains intact save for a noticeable drop in texture quality and less assets compared to the console and PC counterparts. The game still looks great considering the standalone platform, though if I had to guess, I’d say the Quest 3 version hasn’t been optimized for that headset. That said, the game arguably looks more clear thanks to the pancake lenses and while the apparitions of the guests have a less ethereal look, they still look fantastic. The same can’t be said for the Spirit Lamp as the shift from past to present is much more subdued, dampening one the best aspects of the game.
With a sense of unease pervading the mansion, the music can be fairly subdued at times, but is always there to mitigate the silence of this abandoned house, perfectly fitting into which ever setting you find yourself in and getting more intense during the more dramatic scenes. The actors all do a wonderful job at their respective performances and while the acting does feel more like it’s from a stage play than a film, given the era this takes place in, I thought it fit wonderfully with the sometimes over the top story. I will say that the 1st half of the games story felt a little loose and hard to follow, but once I reached the halfway point, things took a dramatic turn and I really started to enjoy the tale being told. You can touch almost every item in the house, each eliciting a proper sound should you bang or drop it and of course, along with the cleverly crafted puzzles are appropriate sounds to further immerse you.
It should be noted that at the time of this review, there didn’t appear to be any haptics in use on the PSVR 2 version, which does feel like an odd exclusion from a game with so much grabbing and holding.
I really enjoyed The 7th Guest VR and in checking out footage from the original game, I’d have to say that this exceeds that 30 year old title in every way. I think fans of the original will really appreciate this new interpretation of that game and for those like me who aren’t really familiar with the classic version, then you just get to enjoy a great and lengthy puzzler as this took me close to 8 hours to get through. This is one of the better VR puzzlers out there and well worth the asking price, delivering a satisfying story engaging puzzles, all in a unique yet familiar package.
Vertigo Games provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review we thank them for that!