After earlier releases on PC-based VR systems, The Exorcist: Legion VR has finally arrived on Playstation VR as well. Episodic in nature, the first three (out of five) episodes are now available to play. Here’s our review.
From the very start, the horror genre has been a popular go-to destination for VR game developers. We’ve seen spin-offs of existing franchises like Until Dawn, plenty of indie projects, as well as one of the finest examples of VR gaming yet: Resident Evil 7. We’ve also had a few Hollywood-inspired stabs at the medium, with the VR version of Paranormal Activity coming to mind. As far as iconic Hollywood horror franchises go, however, few are more noteworthy than The Exorcist. The Exorcist: Legion VR is based on William Peter Blatty’s classic work.
Obviously, something like The Exorcist can’t be turned into a thrill ride kind of experience or an action adventure. The movies are based much more around a tense atmosphere, fear and dread. Emotions that are often impossible to recreate in videogames, but VR technology has already shown how it can elevate game experiences to more actively reflect these emotions. The Exorcist: Legion VR starts strong, as its developers seem to have realized this when you look at the opening sequences.
Taking place inside a cathedral where a local priest was just brutally murdered, the episode focuses mostly on investigation – although the tension is palpable and you quickly feel something sinister is at work. This is where VR carries a lot of the weight – hearing whispers when no one else is around and then looking around just isn’t the same without it. The episode’s over fairly quickly, as you gather clues and pick up a few exorcism tools that you’ll use later on.
The short nature of the first episode unfortunately sets the tone for the rest of the game, as episode two and three are similarly short – and actually feel shorter and more limited in terms of content. I’d estimate that playing through all five episodes will take somewhere between two to three hours, with a Playstation Store price of about 30 dollars/euros for the full package – a little more if you buy the episodes individually. That’s the same price tag that Resident Evil 7 currently has, which is a far larger (and better) horror game to play on Playstation VR.
That’s not to say that The Exorcist: Legion VR isn’t without merit. It sets up an excellent creepy vibe right from the moment it starts, and you don’t have to wait long before you conduct your first exorcism – that takes place in the second episode, called “Idle Hands”. This is also when the action becomes a bit more intense and less focused on just investigating a scene, although it’s still somewhat limited from a gameplay perspective – use a bit of holy water to extinguish fire, and use a crucifix to drive out the demon, that sort of stuff. Shouting “the power of Christ compels you!” at the top of your lungs unfortunately doesn’t do much…
Chapter 3, “Skin Deep”, deals with a demon called Abyzou who appears to be behind a string of infant mortality – and it follows chapter 2’s theme where a possessed school teacher lit a bus full of school children on fire. The Exorcist: Legion VR definitely delivers on disturbing premises and that Exorcist vibe that you want from a VR production based on the license, so fans will probably want to at least try out one of the episodes for that reason. The Exorcist: Legion VR is also an extremely detailed production, with quality visuals and locations that were clearly lovingly crafted by fans of the source material.
Whether or not you’ll be hooked beyond the first episode is up to how much value for money you feel you’re getting. As with the Paranormal Activity game, I couldn’t help thinking that VR gamers looking for a horror experience could just buy Resident Evil 7 instead and get a game that’s both superior and larger than what’s in Legion VR – especially when you consider that Legion VR isn’t finished yet, with two of the episodes missing from the Playstation VR library and episode 5 not yet out on PC either. For now, I’d only recommend this to Exorcist fans – and I would recommend waiting until the season is complete to see how it turns out. The right vibe is there, but gameplay is limited and in its current form it’s over before the story properly wraps up.