If you have ever played a Full-motion Video (FMV) game, you can see how it adds to the game in interesting ways. From the interactions of the characters to furthering the story, the genre of FMV games has a special place in the hearts of many. One of those is the classic, The 7th Guest, where many have gone through the doors of the abandoned Stauf Mansion and met its guests. But has developer, Vertigo Games, made it possible to visit the mansion like never before and re-imagine it to become the best version of the classic game? Yes…yes they do. Let’s find out more about The 7th Guest VR for PlayStation VR2.
The 7th Guest VR is the reimagining of the iconic classic supernatural mystery, The 7th Guest, has been brought back to life with cutting-edge VR technology, that delivers an atmospheric story like no other. Explore the foreboding Stauf Mansion where Henry Stauf hides in the shadows, solve challenging puzzles, and uncover its dark secrets.
So before entering the doors of Stauf Mansion, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, feel free to play standing or sitting. If you do decide to play sitting, make sure you have your favorite chair because you work hard and you are in for a treat, you might as well be as relaxed as possible. Second, play with the lights off as it adds just a little to the experience. Third, make sure those Sense controllers are fully charged. You don’t want to be in the mansion and not able to move or solve that final piece of the puzzle all because you forgot to charge them. Fourth, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone. And finally, take your time and explore as you never know what you may find or can interact with. Now, with all that said, let’s continue…
When I first started the game, I knew I was in for something special. As a big fan of the original game, I have always thought about what it would be like to explore not only the mansion but the land it was on. The first thing that has to be done is picking the Profile Selection. There are three slots so in case anyone else wants to play they hopefully pick their own slot. The next decision that needs to be made is selecting your movement style. Do you want to teleport, slide, or both? I went with both to start with, but I later changed it to just slide. Just keep in mind you can always change the options at any time. Then you need to decide if you want to stand or sit, followed by selecting your dominant hand. In the Options, you can select from the Layout, Controls, Gameplay, and Audio. The default controls are pretty simple. The right thumbstick is used to turn/teleport and pushing it down allows you to crouch. You grab items with the L1 and R1 buttons and you use the L2 for the Spirit Board and R2 for the lantern (more about these in a minute). Once you apply all the changes and select New Game, it’s time to actually get into everything.
When you start out, you are on a boat where the stars are out, the water is murky almost like you are expecting something to come out of it and the trees have been stripped of their greenery and left with nothing but a shell of its former self. But in the distance, the darkness of the mansion with the moon surrounded by the blanket of dark clouds behind it. But all that starts to change as you start to paddle closer to it and are welcomed by the voice of innocence letting you know that they remember you, but not themselves. This is when you get to know about your lantern that was at the front of the boat. Your lantern is special as it can see things and help put things back so that the house can remember how it used to be. Having a spirit lantern can have that effect. But with every step you take and getting closer to the mansion, it becomes more alive as you come to its gates which serves as a simple, but yet first puzzle.
The walk to the mansion is not a quiet one as the lightning can be seen and the thunder can be heard all around. That’s when you get to learn part of the story of how six guests came to the mansion one night and their screams were the only noise. The music accompanies you in a way that is pleasant, almost to distract you in a way as you draw nearer to the doors. But within these doors is where you will learn not only what has happened, but what you must do.
Throughout the mansion, you will come across a circular area where you will need to use your lantern to reveal a record that you will need to bring to the gramophone in the foyer each time. These records contain the voice of the owner of the house, Henry Stouf, who will provide more of the story each time a new record, aka memories, is found. What is known thus far is that there were six guests who have been invited to the mansion where Mr. Stouf’s puzzles need to be solved in order to be able to walk out with their heart’s most secret desire. And those guests, well, you will be hearing from them quite a bit.
We have Edward and Elinor Knox who have a loveless marriage, but a pile of debt. Brian Dutton is ruthless about business admires the way Stauf does business and wants to be as successful as him. Martine Burden who happens to be the former small-town homecoming Queen and has had a taste of the luxury lifestyle, but is wanting more. Julia Heine is the last of the renowned Heine family and has the desire to be young again. And finally, the magician himself, Hamilton Temple, desires to know if there is such a thing as real magic.
But just as the characters are an important part of the story, so are the puzzles. You start out in the dining room and this is where you start to get a finding of what our gracious host wants, to solve his puzzles. Each room will have a set of logic puzzles that must be solved in order to continue on and unlock new rooms in the mansion. Inside some of the rooms, you will find a music box that is intended for each of the guests from Mr. Stauf. In the dining room, you will find the Spirit Board that shows the rooms of the mansion, and your progression, and will even give you two free helpful hints in solving the puzzles. But, if you are truly stuck, you just may be in luck as throughout the mansion are Stauf Coins that can be used to have the puzzle solved for you. But remember, if you use all the coins early, you may just become stuck trying to figure out how to solve the puzzles.
As you move around the mansion, keep in mind that you won’t have to worry about objects you come across having to bring them to another room only to then backtrack to a different room. Everything that you will need for that room’s puzzles is already in each room. When you think about how the original rooms were laid out and were able to be explored to see how the developer has made the updates to these rooms, you can tell they took the time to bring everything to life.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. From the moment the main menu was displayed to entering each room of the mansion, everything looked great on the PlayStation VR2. The use of the actors and Volumetric Video look fantastic in the recreation of the character interactions. But even while everything looked great, some of the fun I had was just exploring everything with the Spirit Lantern and seeing how things change. For example, when you look at the paintings on the wall normally by the light within the mansion, you will see things one way, but by using the Spirit Lantern, you will get something different and it just shows that adding those little touches throughout, makes you appreciate the hard work that went into making the game. With the sound, the music just flows with what is going on around you. When you add the subtle sounds that don’t distract, but lead you from beginning to end, you can tell why the sound is an important part of the story.
There are a few things that I would love to see added. First, more use of the PlayStation VR2 features. There are some vibrations you feel from the controllers, but adding the use of the haptics and eye tracking would be added benefits. Second, an update to the interactions of objects. This just happened a handful of times, but when I would try to interact with a few items, the smoothness of the interaction seemed to get interrupted. Who knows, it could have been the mansion or Stauf himself that caused these issues. And finally, this is more of a want than anything. But we need the sequel to The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, to be the next to receive the Vertigo Games VR treatment.
The 7th Guest VR shows us how a classic should be reimagined and should be treated with it comes to Virtual Reality. It gives those who remember to think of the past while realizing what we knew would become a possibility one day and gives those new to playing, a way to play today while going back to the past and learning how a generation used to play in the past while bringing those generational minds together.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to just go walk around Stauf Mansion.