Platform: HTC Vive (reviewed), PSVR, Oculus
The Exorcist: Legion VR is an episodic VR horror game that puts you in an exorcist’s shoes, with all the of demonic possession, cross-wielding, and tossing of holy water you’d expect. It’s a terrifying psychological trip that blends the creep factor of The Exorcist with immersive VR gameplay to make a terrifying adventure that’s a must play for anyone that considers themselves a fan of horror.
Although we were initially skeptical diving into yet another VR indie horror game, we were pleasantly terrified to find that The Exorcist: Legion VR is a satisfying and entertaining horror game from the first episode, to the recently released final chapter.
Gather your tools
The Exorcist: Legion VR’s core premise might not be anything to write home about, but its implementation is handled well enough to make the lack of originality a non-issue.
You step into the boots of a grizzled detective investigating a series of cases relating to demonic possession, starting with the murder of a priest that’s been tracking a series of demons running amok across the globe, as well as in the detective’s backyard.
The first chapter is all about equipping you with a series of tools to combat specific demons and their powers while giving you just a taste of the experience you’re about to dive into. This includes a cross for general banishment, holy water for quenching hellfire, and a trusty lantern for illuminating dark areas (poorly) and revealing hidden apparitions. You also snag a journal that briefs you vaguely on the various demons, their weaknesses, and gives light hints of the larger story.
Each of these tools is essential to your survival and understanding and when and where to use each one is often a desperate scramble of inventory management. It’s all worth it for that moment when you’re banishing a demon with a glowing cross in one hand, and a book full of holy water capsules in the other.
Short but intense
From there, each of the five chapters breaks down into a bit of a blend between a puzzle and an investigative exploration game. You’ll enter a chapter, explore the area, gather clues, and use a combination of items you find in the area and your exorcist’s toolkit to find and banish the demon in a series of interactive scenes that play out a bit like a mini-boss fight.
Each chapter is only about 30 minutes to an hour long, but you can buy all five chapters or just a few for a few dollars apiece, which makes it worth at least trying out to see if it’s worth it for you to buy the rest. This length is actually ideal because the combination of VR and intense, scary experiences means that you may need to take breaks relatively often, and the short length of an episode allows that respite.
As a result, each level feels like it has a satisfying arc of exploration, to fear, to banishment, and finally to falling action as you return to the precinct to go over evidence and check out your next lead.
There are also a series of optional mini puzzles in each level that will reward you with an upgrade to your exorcist’s toolkit and a series of hidden mini objectives that you can finish if you’re into achievements and trophies. These puzzles and objectives are entirely optional, but they add an extra layer of complexity as you struggle to figure out each one to give you an edge against the coming demonic encounter.
Hold your breath
Each chapter is well rendered, and just dark enough that even with your little oil lantern you can rarely ever see farther than a few feet in the darkest portions of the map. This ambient lighting combined with the magic of VR and excellent audio engineering really builds on your sense of immersion, and as you would expect, makes it easy to forget that you’re playing a VR game and not actively banishing demons.
At its core, The Exorcist: Legion VR nails the sensation of being hunted by a creature beyond your understanding. Its undeniably hair-raising to have a demon whispering in one ear from different angles and actively responding as you turn to follow it in the darkness, only to have it flip around and whisper in the other ear when you least expect it.
It’s this sense of immersion that makes VR excellent on its own, but that is often overshadowed by poor sound design and visually corny jumpscares. In contrast, The Exorcist: Legion VR manages to use sound and visual design to enhance what VR offers, rather than just capitalizing on the core functionality. This means levels are atmospheric enough to make you hold your breath as you open a door and forget that the demon crawling towards you isn’t quite real, and that the cross you’re holding out is the only thing between you and damnation.
As someone that’s played a lot of horror games, The Exorcist: Legion VR reminded me why I enjoy the genre. The cold sweat, the adrenaline, and the split-second decisions you’re forced to make is unlike any experience where you’re safe and comfy in a well-lit room with nothing to lose.