We might be used to seeing the odd ’90s videogame reemerge and remastered but they do tend to be more well-known IPs. What’s very rare – almost unheard of – is bringing back a CD-ROM mystery puzzler. Especially one with FMV-heavy graphics. But that’s exactly what Vertigo Games has done with The 7th Guest VR. And you know what, combining modern volumetric video capture with VR has worked (mostly). With our review discovering that The 7th Guest VR is one of the more unique VR games of 2023.
Just like the original, The 7th Guest VR is a narrative-heavy puzzle game. You and a collection of other guests have been invited to the mansion of wealthy recluse and toymaker, Henry Stauf. You and the other guests are unsure why you’re here. But like an episode of Poirot, you learn all about your fellow guests, their backstories and your mysterious host.
Spooky mysteries await
What’s plain to see is that everyone is, in fact, a ghost. And you are too, being able to see your own spectral bones. As such the house is quiet until one or more of your party appear. As these are all volumetrically captured actors, they all have depth and perfectly the hammy theatrics the original game had. While they deliver the story at a reasonably brisk pace, the rest of the time you’re free to solve puzzles a unlock more of the house.
Crucial to all of this is the magical lantern you hold. This doesn’t merely illuminate the darker recesses of the mansion, it can also uncover secrets and make objects appear new. Wave it around and you’ll soon begin to spot glowing ghostly clues to the puzzles, generally offering not-so-subtle hints as to their answer. The best bit about the lantern though is its ability to de-age and uncover the mansion. I had great fun wandering around casting the lantern light across the myriad of paintings. Watching an ordinarily dull painting contort into something far more sinister.
Vertigo Games has done a superb job with the visual design and atmosphere. Even when reviewing the game on Quest 2 – the least powerful of all supported platforms – The 7th Guest VR is suitably dark and foreboding. The audio was equally on point, especially where the acting was concerned. The dialogue was crisp and clear if a little on the nose at points.
Puzzle variety is always a concern in any game, how many are repeated or very similar in design? Thankfully, this is one of The 7th Guest VR‘s strong points. There’s a diverse array of challenges to solve especially as you get deeper into the mansion with a decent difficulty curve. However it must be said the early stages utilise well-worn mechanics that you should easily breeze through.
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for coins littered throughout the mansion. Should you get stuck, you can open up the map to gain a couple of hints or spend a coin to autocomplete the puzzle. Yes, it does take away some of the challenge but at least you can maintain a nice pace and not get frustrated.
On the other hand, there are other elements of the game which can grate. Item interaction can be clunky and cumbersome at points, getting caught in the environment or pinging off. There a several puzzles that require finer hand motion like putting wine bottles in slots, made more awkward when they glitch, drop, disappear then reappear somewhere else. There weren’t any really serious bugs apart from the one time it crashed and sent me back to the Quest’s home screen.
The 7th Guest VR Review Summary
If you’ve been after a rich, story-driven puzzle game in VR rather than endless shooters, The 7th Guest VR is an entertaining treat. The narrative is fun and intriguing, there’s a good assortment of puzzles and its gothic atmosphere has some great haunted house vibes. It’s not perfect by any means, as there are still glitches to be found here and there. But overall The 7th Guest VR is an easy recommendation which should tide you over for a good 6-8 hours.