If you allow a friend who has never tried VR before to experience Playstation 4 VR, they will often come away with a gleam in their eye and often a “this is the way forward for games and films” statement, quickly followed by “imagine when they get around to making a full game for…” and then they insert the name of their favourite franchise at the end of that wishful speculative comment.
Even better is the look you get when you tell that friend that a VR candle exists for Resident Evil: Biohazard, which is designed to smell like content within the game and enhance the feeling of being present within the game. The person you tell is often surprised at the idea and goes off to tell their own friends. This is because although people are familiar with the notion of 4D cinematic experiences, many of them don’t consider this when thinking of gaming, particularly within horrors, which, of course, increase in scariness the more that you feel immersed within the game.
There are few VR-related activities as dangerous as lighting an open flame while your vision is fully obscured by the Playstation 4 VR headset, however, especially given that fact that there is a strong temptation to place the candle as close to under the nose of the player as possible, to maximise impact. So before playing, I recommend that you definitely get that friend or a relative to come over to enjoy the game with you, so that someone has an eye on the lit candle during gameplay.
Sniffing the candle pre-lighting it will provide you with a strong sense of the odour that’s to come. It’s a truly horror-appropriate smell that isn’t too obscene, like rotting flesh, but is instead wonderfully subtle, smelling more like the surrounding in-game setting than any grotesque set piece. I can only describe it as a sharp, woody smell, almost like a damp old cabin in the woods. It’s a pungent odour at a close up sniff, but once lit, it settles into the room nicely and you almost forget about its presence.
Playing the game without the candle is challenging enough on the nerves, but with the candle, it allows for a more immersed feeling. Like you might actually be wandering through a dark, dank house in the woods, trying to avoid cannibals and monstrosities. It’s all about elevating suspense and a player’s nervousness and this candle definitely heightens those feelings of angst and also the alienating feeling of being somewhere strange and unlike where you’ve been (or what you’ve smelled) before.
One friend in the room did complain about getting a headache because of the candle, but I would argue that you would know going in whether heady smells are likely to give you headaches. If you’re one of those people, perhaps this candle isn’t for you, but for everyone else, this is a wonderful addition to the already very horrific gaming experience that is Resident Evil: Biohazard.
Image credits: Capcom