The Inpatient is the kind of game that, on the surface, seems like the kind of game I’ve been waiting for on the PSVR: a meaty, immersive horror experience in the vein of the incredible Resident Evil 7. While some of that may be true – it is a good, solid psychological horror experience – it suffers from a lot of the same issues that plague most VR games.
Developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, The Inpatient takes place in 1952 inside the notorious Blackwood Pines Sanatorium where you play as the titular character who has been restrained and committed – with no idea who you are or why you’re there. The game revolves around you exploring the sanatorium, having vicious nightmares and dealing with all of the characters you meet along the way. If Blackwood Pines sounds familiar, it’s because it was alluded to in Until Dawn, to which this game acts as somewhat of a prequel.
But while Until Dawn was a campy, fun and often self-aware adventure, The Inpatient takes itself quite seriously. Its branching butterfly effect story reminded me of movies like Shutter Island or the more recent A Cure For Wellness; it is an eerie game with enough jump scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. You can influence the story by making certain decisions and then watch them play out, and thanks to one of the more immersive features, you can actually speak the options you want to choose – really pulling you into the story.
While you expect to be immediately scared, you’re treated to more of a slow psychological burn where you’re essentially starved, and you get to wake up every day seeing the deterioration take hold – before any real physical danger ever rears its head. The game is terrifying and gruesome all at once, with multiple endings and the ability to not only choose your skin color but also your gender – which has a distinct effect on how certain situations play out.
Where The Inpatient stumbles isn’t really in its story – I though it was pretty good – but in its controls. It’s clunky and awkward at times, my shoulder would get caught in doorways, my hands would endlessly bobble around an object I was trying to interact with and you can’t really move backwards. When you think of the technical achievement that The Inpatient offers – it’s good-looking and immersive – these small details are somewhat jarring and break the immersion.
The game is short – about 2-3 hours if you’re not a completionist – which, at its $54 price tag at the time of this article, makes it a lot of money for such a short experience. And that’s my biggest issue here. The Inpatient feels like a mini-game, a side story companion to Until Dawn that somehow costs nearly the price of a full game. It’s a great game though, arguably one of the best horror experiences on the PSVR to date, but it’s just not long enough to warrant that kind of price.
Have you played it? Let us know what you think in the comments!