“My name is Legion; for we are many…”
Regarded by many as one of the scariest horror movies ever made, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist caused something of a stir when it released in 1973, leading to claims that the film set was ‘cursed’ and that numerous people had committed suicide after watching the film (which has never actually been substantiated). With that in mind, Wolf and Wood Interactive’s The Exorcist: Legion VR already has a strong foundation within the annals of horror, throw VR into the mix and the game has the potential to be a pure, unadulterated, white-knuckle affair. The first three episodes released on the 19th June 2018 for the PlayStation 4 (with the other two coming out later this year) and as usual I’ll be going over the pros and cons of the VR title, covering whether it’s worth the £24.99 asking price.
As cool as the technology found within virtual reality is, it’s still very much in its infancy phase. VR games have been very capable of showcasing some pretty impressive tech over the years since its initial inception, but the medium has still failed to make any real breakthroughs to pull it out of the buggy ‘tech demo’ phase and into mainstream gaming as a whole (discussing Skyrim VR is a quick way to draw the line between the ‘casuals’ and ‘VR purists’). Being a recent adopter of PSVR myself (thanks Sony!) the first thing that I noticed was that the technology is a dream come true when it comes to first-person horror games, taking some already uncomfortable experiences and throwing them into the realms of one’s worst nightmares (Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is both immersive and downright terrifying in VR). If you’re a fan of horror games, then owning some kind of VR device is pretty much a requirement at this point, as the technology represents the next jump ahead for the age-old genre, also for the fact that VR horror games seem to be the most consistent in terms of polish and refinement of gameplay mechanics (again, don’t get me started on Skyrim VR).
One horror franchise that I thought would be the last to get a video game adaptation (let alone a VR one) was William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, which recently got a VR title in the form of Wolf & Wood Interactive’s The Exorcist: Legion VR. The Exorcist: Legion VR is an episodic investigation/horror VR title that places you in the shoes of an unnamed homicide detective working out of the Boston Police Department, tasked with investigating the ritualistic murder of Father Bell, going on to learn that the priest was on the verge of uncovering a sinister pact of demons known as the ‘Legion’ (who each have their own particular vices when it comes to feeding off human misery and suffering). Soon after investigating the murder, the detective decides to carry on with the good father’s work and takes it upon himself to deal to become an exorcist, following in the footsteps of his predecessor’s investigation. Currently, the game only has three episodes (the last two will release on PS4 later this year) with each episode being priced at £6.19 each or £24.99 for the whole collection. Each episode deals with a unique demon entity from the Legion, including the series primary antagonist: Pazuzu, who started it all when he possessed Regan MacNeil back in The Exorcist in 1973.
What an excellent day for an exorcism: The Exorcist: Legion VR works off of the tried and tested episodic format, with three chapters available at launch, with the other two getting a release later this year.
Being a VR game, things are dealt with a bit differently when it comes to gameplay in The Exorcist: Legion VR. The first big pointer (and a colossal pain in the arse) is the fact that the PSVR version needs to be calibrated in-depth, meaning you’re going to need a lot of open space for it to work (no sitting in front of the TV for this one). The most annoying feature of the calibration by far is the fact that it seems to be bugged from the get-go, with the position you need to stand at away from the camera being permanently two feet behind your starting position, only to be corrected one you’ve reset the game for the umpteenth time (do yourself a favour and stand as close to the camera as possible and move backwards slowly, you’ll thank me later). The game is best played with the PlayStation Move controllers, offering you a full range of motion for both hands, making navigation that much easier (if you opt for using the DualShock 4 controller you’ll only be able to use one of your hands, which makes the game somewhat cumbersome to play). In addition to this, if your hand-eye coordination is on point (and you’re using the DualShock 4) I recommend using free movement opposed to teleportation, as it makes the immersion just that much sweeter (just beware if you’re prone to motion physics). Once calibration is completely out of the way the gameplay is as smooth as butter, operating with the usual VR physics, while presenting a game that’s part detective/part psychological horror (which work together in tandem perfectly) requiring you to both investigate your environment and use your toolkit to exercise demons when the situation calls for it.
By far one of the biggest selling points of The Exorcist: Legion VR is the fact that each and every chapter is absolutely dripping with atmosphere, to the point where I haven’t felt so on edge playing a horror game since the playable teaser for Konami’s ill-fated Silent Hills (f*ck you Konami). As aforementioned, each episode deals with a different demon from the Legion; chapter one sees you exploring a murder scene at a church while learning about the background of Father Bell and uncovering his investigation into the occult (before having a terrifying run-in with Pazuzu). The other two episodes deal with more specific demons, namely: Ronove and Abyzou (the Great Earl of Hell and mistress of infant death). Both episodes take you to both a dimly-lit lunatic asylum and an uncompromised suburban home, with the most horrifying chapter of the three being Chapter 3: Skin Deep, where the environments alone are enough to make the toughest bastard known to man piss himself with fear. Each chapter is roughly around 30 minutes long, possibly longer if you seek out all of the collectables and go for 100% in every chapter. While the episodes themselves may be short, they keep the tension brewing for every second you spend within them; the ability keep the tension slowly building without always relying on jump scares is something that is something that is usually quite hard to do in a horror game, but it’s something that The Exorcist: Legion VR manages to execute perfectly, being one of the more potent horror games I’ve played in recent years.
We’re not alone in these woods: Mounting the tension is key to any successful horror game, something in which The Exorcist: Legion VR brings it’s A game.
Overall the time I’ve spent with The Exorcist: Legion VR has only left me wanting more, with the final two episodes firmly printed on my to-do list when they release later this year. Definitely worth picking up all 5 episodes at £24.99, as the quality of the horror on offer here is superb, showcasing how to do real horror through a medium that is only going to get better as it goes on; with that said however, it’s definitely one to avoid if you’re prone to a nervous disposition, Wolf & Wood aren’t pulling any punches here…
A review code was provided by The Network PR.