Ben's Top Horror - #5: Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil 7! When this game was announced at E3 I was hyped. Finally the next entry was on it's way, and it was apparently a return to the series' horror survival roots. However that's not what got me the most excited about the game, nor is it why I'm including it on this list. So why am I you might ask? Well that's simple. PlayStation VR.

I'll be blunt. No horror video game has ever scared me. Sure there's some creepy moments that might've made sections to get through in others, but I've never been stopped from actually finishing those games. Everything you see is always within your TV screen, and you never completely feel the sense of terror horror games often go for. That's one of the reasons some people play such games late at night and with all the lights turned off in the room -- something that still doesn't work for me. With Resident Evil 7 however, it was a complete game changer for me.

Being in VR is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it. "It's just the screen in front of your face." Or "might as well just sit close to the TV!" That's what I've heard from quite a few people over the years, and even after I explain how wrong they are, they never truly get it until they see it for themselves. The moment that head set goes on and they're transported to another world, their entire conception of what VR is, is changed. Now imagine for yourself putting that same head set on, and instead of waking up in some crazy fantasy world, you are greeted by a world very much grounded in reality, with an old creepy house in front of you. Every part of your natural instincts tell you not to go in, but this is a video game, and that's exactly what you have to do.

"Actually" being in a Resident Evil game is not the same as playing it through your TV screen. As you walk through the halls you can't help but notice every little detail in the world around you. Broken floor boards, the wall paper coming off of the wall, the holes in the ceiling, and the maggots crawling around -- all of these are things you wouldn't normally notice in such a game. Then when you first encounter the game's main threats, you honestly don't know how to react. A complete helpless feeling washes over you, and your body kicks into survival mode. Grab the axe, do whatever it takes to survive, and run before they catch you again. Even though it's fake, the dread you feel never quite leaves you. Even after you take off the VR headset and you find yourself back in reality, it's a very odd feeling. You know what you've just been through is fake, but does your mind really believe that?

RE7 was honestly the first time since I was a kid that a video game gave me nightmares. Even after I was done playing it, I would often all asleep and wake up in that very same old creepy house. I guess it was a location I knew as I had technically "been there," so it wasn't much different than dreaming about other places I've seen in real life. Eventually the dreams did stop, but the terror I feel for the game has never gone away. And that's why I love it.

At this point I've memorized the game nearly from front to back, but I still dive in every now and then to experience it all over again. Despite knowing what's to come, the game still freaks me out, and can sometimes be hard to move on with. This is why it took me months to finish the game rather than a few days, and why I don't always finish every playthrough I start. It's an amazing game, and one I'd recommend everyone check out in VR. (If they dare.) On the flip side, the game's really just "ok" for me when played on a TV. It looks nice and is still fun, but VR really is the only reason I keep going back. And that's why it's number 5 on my list, and not higher up. Still worth checking out though.

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