The 7th Guest VR puts a futuristic spin on a 90s mystery and, despite some hiccups, leverages the immersive nature of virtual reality to pit you against tricky nostalgic puzzles in an eerie haunted mansion.
VR has become a surprisingly frequent medium for developers to reimagine cult classic adventure games, adapting the point-and-click or text-based gameplay to fit with the more tactile immersive nature of the platform. First came Myst, then Colossal Cave, and now The 7th Guest, a supernatural mansion whodunnit from 1993 that has found a new home on modern headsets.
Platforms: PC VR, PSVR 2, Quest (Review conducted on PSVR 2)
Release Date: Out now
Developer: Vertigo Games
Solving the manor’s mysteries on flatscreen platforms had the power to make you jump, but with Vertigo Games’ VR reimagining, players can now explore (and squirm) their way through its puzzle-filled rooms as they unravel the narrative. The 7th Guest VR follows many of the same beats as the original game, taking place in the abode of a mysterious old toy maker, Henry Stauf, who invites guests to his tormented home to complete a series of puzzles in order to win a secret prize.
Players join the story many years after the events of that fateful night as an amnesiac lost soul, exploring the ghostly manor and stumbling upon haunting wisps of the past, presented via volumetric video capture cast upon 3D models that recreate the full-motion video storytelling of the original. This leads to spirited pockets of exposition that look wholly unique in VR. Veterans of The 7th Guest will certainly notice some changes, but amid the spectacle of this spooky remake, the developers have certainly captured the spirit of its predecessor.
An Eerie Opening
The 7th Guest VR opens with you rowing through the fog towards its Victorian Amityville horror house. Even before you grace the front door, you’re likely to have a pit in your stomach. The main tool in your arsenal after making land is a Spirit Lantern that illuminates the world around you. Pointing it at specific parts of the environment will reveal parts of puzzles and trigger changes that help you progress. I particularly enjoyed how shining the lantern at innocuous paintings would turn them malicious, such as a previously-beautiful vista suddenly becoming engulfed in flames.
This creates a tense ambience where you walk a tightrope between finding what you need and frightening yourself. Thankfully, I didn’t spot any egregious jump scares or overtly terrifying images in my playthrough – I was more unsettled by the unnerving design of the cobweb-covered rooms and complementary atmospheric soundtrack.
There was a complexity to The 7th Guest VR’s puzzles that reminded me of the We Were Here series, which leverages similarly-intense physical circumstances against your ability to think laterally. In The 7th Guest, there’s an impressive diversity to the puzzles and many of them are formidable. It would have been nice if they were more interlinked though, as there are times where it feels like you’re going through a checklist of problems to solve in each room, rather than building upon previously-nurtured skills.
If you do find yourself getting stuck, you can ask for hints by pulling out your Spirit Board or finding finite special coins that allow you to skip puzzles. However, I found the hints inconsistent – either way too vague or over-informative – and if you use a coin, you’re not any closer to understanding the solution either, as it skips the puzzle entirely. If you have no coins and you hit a hard wall, the physical confines of the headset add to the frustration, as opposed to being able to tab out when playing PC games. You can’t reset individual puzzles, either. With one particular coffin-sliding excursion, I toiled away at the solution through trial and error until it didn’t even feel fun anymore.
Some Interesting Interactions
The 7th Guest VR’s troubles are compounded by moments of awkward interactions, which complicate the puzzle-solving. These interactivity problems were especially noticeable when using the game’s more finicky interactive modules, such as trying to pick up smaller objects or press tightly positioned buttons on a board. In these situations, your progress can be easily nullified in one fell swoop, which often made me want to give up altogether and take a break. Additionally, puzzle set pieces were sometimes laid out in a way that caused more frustration – elements often felt just out of reach or not quite close enough to comfortably interact with.
Another disappointment was the lack of haptic feedback on PSVR 2, considering there was plenty of opportunity to make use of the headset’s unique immersive features. I was left wondering how a shuddering vibration from the headset or some light tension on the triggers could have helped to finesse the ambience.
Once the puzzles are solved in each area, the room restores itself to how it looked in its heyday, buying you time to relax and appreciate the game's glorious architecture and set dressing before moving ahead. As you explore the manor, you’ll come to meet the six unlucky summoned characters, with the eponymous seventh guest remaining a secret until the very end.
Hiding their own misfortunes and troubles in a bid to appear important, the visitors all resemble endearing melodramatic tropes, like the bitter hotel heiress, the self-obsessed Broadway star and, of course, the egotistical debonair. They make great company in what is an otherwise lonely game, and if you’re thorough, you’ll uncover their intimate financial and personal woes as well as the reason Stauf invited them in the first place.
To capture the ghostly semi-realistic figures, Vertigo Games uses a volumetric video capture, which generates a uniquely haunting hologram effect as the live-action footage is overlaid on the characters. This was a strong reason to muscle through despite my issues with the puzzles, as the effect never got old and felt like something totally unique that I hadn’t experienced in VR before. Many of the scenes elicited the vibes of a Victorian stage play, which helped confirm the impression I was eventually left with after my time with the game. The 7th Guest VR is like a charming night ride at your local fairground. It’s odd, entertaining, and with measured expectations, can be a really good time.
The 7th Guest VR Review – Comfort
The 7th Guest features three individual movement options – teleport, smooth artificial movement, or a mixture of both – which you’ll use to explore the game’s mansion environment and solve puzzles. You can customize these traversal types further by choosing between snap or smooth rotation, alongside specific increment options for turning.
Before you begin, you can set your dominant hand, which will double as the hand you hold your Spirit Lantern in, with your secondary hand becoming the hand you’ll access the Spirit Board with. You will also have the choice of subtitles, which you can toggle on and off at any point in the game’s settings.
The 7th Guest Review – Final Verdict
Vertigo Games has summoned the particular 90s adventure game charm of The 7th Guest in this VR adaptation, reinterpreting it as a spooky, nuanced mystery that feels like a good fit for the medium. I did find myself bogged down by some frustrating puzzles and tension-scuppering interaction issues, but the promise of the narrative and consistent visual spectacle kept me invested throughout. As long as you’re patient enough for its puzzles, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this malevolent virtual manor.
UploadVR focuses on a label system for reviews, rather than a numeric score. Our reviews fall into one of four categories: Essential, Recommended, Avoid and reviews that we leave unlabeled, such as this one. You can read more about our review guidelines here.