Resident Evil 7 biohazard is one of the year’s first must-play games. The problem is that the first chapter left me in a sweaty, queasy state of panic.
The reason for that wasn’t Resident Evil 7’s copious scares, blood and gore. I’m no chicken; I can handle myself with a horror game just fine. Resident Evil 7 made me feel physically ill due to a strong case of motion sickness.
This wasn’t the PlayStation VR version, either, which is known to be more than a bit nauseating. This was the standard Resident Evil 7, played on a screen. The game’s constant camera movement and tiny field of view gave me an unbearable case of the shakes.
I’ve rarely experienced such a palpably uncomfortable sensation while gaming, but the few occasions that I have been overcome with seasickness were caused by similar factors. I had to lie down after trying Get Even, the lackluster psycho-thriller due on PlayStation 4 later this year, which had many of the same problems as Resident Evil 7. Both games take place mostly in cramped, poorly lit spaces. Both games require rotating the camera around and around and around, searching for that jump scare.
There’s a reason that these kinds of games make me feel like death, and it’s pretty common with first-person games. Russ Frushtick, another member of Polygon with a sensitive stomach, wrote about the impetus for motion sickness when he had his own painful experience playing Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
“The TL;DR is that the brain is often convinced by the motion in a game, but the inner ear is like, ‘Nah bro, you’re just sitting on your couch,’” Russ wrote last June. “This disagreement convinces the brain that you must be hallucinating, perhaps due to a poison you ingested. Therefore the brain sends alarm bells to your stomach to puke up the non-existent poison. Poof: motion sickness.”
I had this explanation in my head after playing Resident Evil 7 the first time, at E3 2016 last June. But that was the notably sickening VR version, which left nearly everyone I know who played it looking for a barf bag. Capcom later copped to the widespread issues with the game’s first VR demo, which were the fault of that extremely disorienting mixture of a moving camera and a static player. Later trials had a completely reworked camera, but even that didn’t completely solve the problem.
I didn’t quite expect the game’s regular version to have this debilitating of an effect, however, and I’m super crushed. The parts of Resident Evil 7 that I could physically handle were fantastic. Like our review says, it’s a master work in the horror genre. The frights aren’t cheap; they’re earned, emotionally and narratively.
I think Resident Evil 7 could stand to be one of the year’s best games. For me, it will certainly be one of 2017’s most memorable, even if I never develop the courage — or stomach — to go back to it. Not all first-person games make me sick, but you may want to give the game a try before you purchase it, if you’re sensitive to some games making you feel ill.
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