Welcome to Blackwood Sanitarium, a mental institution dark with secrets that is featured heavily in the virtual reality survival horror The Inpatient for PlayStation VR.
The Inpatient is a VR experience developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and a prequel to the 2015 game Until Dawn, set 60 years before the events in that game.
The game uses a first-person perspective on PSVR in order to instill a sense of immersion and horror. The player will take control of a patient with amnesia who is bent on reclaiming their lost memories. They must do so by exploring the creepy halls of the Sanitarium and talking to other characters throughout a two-hour experience.
In the game, the entire character’s body is visible, meaning that if the player looks down using the VR headset, they can see torso, hips, legs, and feet. It is also possible to move the character’s arms and hands using the PlayStation Move motion controllers, which provides an awkward but somewhat more immersive experience as the player can interact with the environment.
The Inpatient is a psychological horror writ into a 3D VR experience
To unveil the story of the game, the player must interact with other characters and the world. The game’s story itself is extremely slow-moving and yields only to long-winded dialogue sections that include some branching choices in what to say in parts of conversations. Dialogue choices do affect the outcome of the game and will change the ending, often deciding who lives and who dies.
The ambiance of the game is based around psychological horror and the game users all of the immersive aspects of VR to bring it out.
VR is a technology that completely encompasses a users’ vision, which allows them to enter into an entirely different space. While sitting on the couch, playing The Inpatient, a player will find themselves actually transported into the dirty hallways of Blackwood Sanitarium and when they turn their head, they can see the walls on either side. This differs from a 2D experience on a screen in that there is nowhere to look that is not in the sanitarium.
Paranormal horror combined with enhanced 3D audio propels the story
In an attempt to enhance the horror and paranormal feeling of the game, Supermassive included three-dimensional binaural audio to supplement the disturbing visuals. This technology, alongside excellent audio design, gives the game its tense and chilling atmosphere that helps propel players even further into the story.
The game developers used elements of cinematic psychological horror in order to affect the player’s subconscious and create a sense of isolation and fear. The game also has a small number of jump scares, although it does not depend on them. This makes exploring the dark corridors and chambers of Blackwood even more anxiety-inducing as atmospheric noises give tells of potential danger lurking nearby.