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The Inpatient UK Review: An atmospheric virtual reality chiller for PSVR

Written by  Jan 27, 2018
PlayStation 4’s prequel to horror adventure Until Dawn is a bleak tale of psychological stress that quickly becomes a haunted house fairground ride
The Inpatient.
The Inpatient.Photograph: Sony

PlayStation 4, Supermassive Games/Sony (PS VR headset required)

It is a familiar horror movie setup: someone wakes to find themselves trapped in an asylum, with no memory of their past and a creepy doctor looming over them. But no matter how many times you’ve seen this on the big screen, it is very different when you’re the one strapped in the chair.

The Inpatient is a virtual reality thriller, which acts as a distant prequel to the 2015 horror adventure, Until Dawn. Having put on the required PlayStation VR headset, you find yourself in the gothic darkness of Blackwood Pines sanatorium, where ostensibly kindly Dr Bragg is administering some sort of treatment to retrieve your memories. But all is not as it seems in this shadowy old building, and when you’re thrown back into your locked room, a new cellmate starts to give you clues about a terrible local tragedy and your part in it.

At first, The inpatient is an extremely tense and atmospheric thrill-ride. Simple interactions with nearby objects bring up memory sequences, while branching conversations with staff and your increasingly erratic roomie decide the course of the narrative. The action is intercut with genuinely unsettling nightmare sequences jammed with jump scares, weird noises and scuttling beasts. 


Sony PlayStation VR £299.50amazon uk (Check current price)

But as soon as you escape the cell, the tension collapses and the game becomes a laboured wander through endless corridors, wards and offices, with a set of wooden and unconvincing characters. What started out as a bleak tale of psychological stress becomes a haunted-house fairground ride without the ghosts or shocks.

This is a shame, because the incredible character models and scenic detail ensure you’re truly immersed in the world, and the way the game plays with memory, space and reality is truly involving. But the whole thing peters out, and it’s not helped by some extremely stilted dialogue and, at times, poorly explained and implemented controls.

The Inpatient is an encouraging signpost to where interactive VR drama might be heading. Too bad that, this time, it’s nowhere interesting. Yet even though the last act lets it down, the sense of place is astonishing at times and there are some genuinely great moments of immersion. It’s a game PlayStation VR players should experience.

The Inpatient is out now.

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