You wake up to find yourself with no memories, restrained and locked away in a sanatorium courtesy of Supermassive Games and PlayStation VR. You are The Inpatient. Unfortunately, this psychological horror is more of a psychological snorer and only made me impatient.
The Inpatient is a prequel to Until Dawn, taking place 62 years prior to the incident that incites the events of Until Dawn. You literally embody a patient residing in The Blackwood Sanatorium during its final days. Struggling to remember your origins, you’ll explore the sanatorium for clues while trying to survive the horrific events unfolding around you. During your stay at Blackwood, The Butterfly Effect from Until Dawn resurfaces, weighing the decisions you make and influencing the outcome of the narrative.
Although The Inpatient is categorized as a psychological horror, it shows little in the way of tampering with the player’s psyche. It’s the 1950s, put me through some of those truly horrific “medical” treatments they used. Think about how impactful that would have been in virtual reality. Make me squirm with discomfort Supermassive Games! The PSVR is a great opportunity to insert some body horror. Have the doctor hold the syringe in front of my face before injecting me in the neck instead of the leg. Oh how the people would writhe.
The three-dimensional sound helps to immerse you in the virtual reality experience, but it still feels incomplete. More growling, more screaming, more, well, anything really. Sometimes less is more—which is what Supermassive Games tries to capture—and I’m not asking for an orchestra of dollar store Halloween sound effects, but a few more well-placed sounds could have been spine-tingling, even if there were no visuals to match.
The graphics are very reminiscent of Until Dawn, allowing The Inpatient to fit into Supermassive Games’ now signature visual style. The scenery is appropriate for the story, but it feels devoid of fear. True, the map is littered with furniture, blood and the occasional body, but the creepiness factor falls flat within the second half of the game. I want to run my flashlight over corners of a room to find something creepy—anything creepy! Make me yelp when my flashlight illuminates a swarm of cockroaches or a wolf devouring a corpse. The first half of The Inpatient excited me and made me fear I’d die of a VR induced heart attack. It held the jump scares, the corpses, the snarling beasts and the creepy crawlers. I’m wandering a crumbling sanatorium, riddled with death. Shouldn’t I be uneasy for the entire duration of my travels? By the time I had met another survivor the creepiness had checked out and The Inpatient turned into an experience even Sybil would tire of.
In true Supermassive Games’ fashion, I played the entire game through twice to make different choices, allowing me to witness three different endings by replaying the final chapter. Also, my first playthrough was so blasé that it definitely warranted a redo. The first playthrough became predictable, leaving me un-phased by the events surrounding me. Even once I learned my character’s origin, it was still disappointing. On the second playthrough, I knew which choices to make to completely change the story. It did add a little tension to the rest of my game, but it was minuscule. For a good chunk of time, you are left to follow characters, turning The Inpatient into a painfully slow walking simulator. The characters are shallow, so I didn’t really care about their fates. “Huh, she died. What was her name again?” Only one character really stood out with any kind of personality and should have appeared through the entire game. This would have given me someone to care about. Why not give me a chance to meet some completely-off-their-rocker lunatics? Yes, Blackwood is technically a health resort and spa, but I’m sure they don’t lock patients in their rooms because they are all lovely and sane people. Forget the wolves, have my flashlight illuminate a patient chowing down on a corpse. That would make my skin crawl, instead of it walking…slowly.
The Butterfly Effect is a crippled version of Until Dawn‘s. Until Dawn gave the player minor clues to help them make wise decisions, whereas The Inpatient‘s one particularly critical choice pops up so haphazardly and what seems like the most logical choice is apparently your downfall. Once you piece the story together, it makes very little sense. I don’t want to give away too much, but judging by what I know from this title and Until Dawn, my fate made NO SENSE. I know how it happened but doesn’t add up to “why”. Also, where is the tension in some of the decisions? I OBVIOUSLY held people’s lives in my hands in Until Dawn, adding so much stress to my choice, yet I never felt dread making choices in The Inpatient. Most of the decisions can be summoned up with “should I stay or should I go?”
I used the PlayStation Move Controllers to play The Inpatient. The walking didn’t make me feel any sense of motion sickness but it would be less frustrating with a DualShock. I ran into problems grabbing doorknobs but that is more an issue with the technology than the game. The only place I see the PS Move Controllers adding to the immersion is when using the flashlight, which is actually a large portion of the game.
There are no words to describe how much I adored Until Dawn, but The Inpatient broke my ever-horror-loving heart. An A for effort Supermassive Games, but they really missed the mark this time. A drop of horror in a bucket of bland leaves me saying “meh” to the whole ordeal. I should have been tense, stressed, scared and yelling “NOPE” as I threw the headset across the room. Instead, I felt like I had suffered a full frontal lobotomy at Blackwood.
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!