Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016

Resident Evil 7: When nausea strikes

You need a strong stomach and someone standing by to take over

Being trapped in a derelict house filled with creepy crawlies and odd noises is not the scariest part.
Being trapped in a derelict house filled with creepy crawlies and odd noises is not the scariest part.PHOTO: SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (RE7) will be released next year on PlayStation 4 and PC with full PlayStation VR support.

I tried out Capcom's Kitchen last year, a short virtual reality (VR) demo that was later revealed to be a prototype for RE7.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, as the mix of horror and helplessness left my heart thumping, so I was eager to try out the first public hands-on of this first-person shooter at E3.

Just five minutes into the demo, my heart rate spiked again. But it was not because I was trapped in a derelict house filled with creepy crawlies and odd noises. Instead, I was hit hard by the fabled VR nausea, and I felt my stomach churning and blood thumping in my head.

It got so bad that I called it quits, and a fellow journalist from Malaysia took over. Minutes later, the nausea broke him too, and he shakily took off the headset to reveal a brow shining with sweat.

Defeated and confused, we stumbled back to the hotel, and I was left with a raging headache until the next morning.

I was surprised because we have both tried numerous other VR demos before with no issues.

But after reading multiple accounts online, it turns out that numerous other people who tried the RE7 demo had the same queasy experience.

This can probably be attributed to the game's relatively low frame rate (60fps) and confounded controls.

In the game, your field of view can be moved by either using the right joystick or turning your head. If you do both at the same time, as many gamers probably will, both inputs will add up and you end up "moving" much more than you intended.

And this is a great pity, because the horror elements of RE7 work wonderfully in VR.

In the demo, I had to solve puzzles and get out of a house. Because of the taut, cloistered atmosphere, I looked around wildly, checking behind doors and peering around walls - a factor that probably further contributed to the nausea.

I found myself physically tensing up before entering a new area, and when a cockroach ran over my virtual "hand", I jerked my real hand back.

We do not know much about the storyline yet, but developers have confirmed that while it is part of the Resident Evil universe, it will not feature the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, or familiar faces like Jill and Chris.

If RE7 fixes its VR issues, it would probably be a great full-length VR experience. But until I can play without wanting to throw up, I will probably put aside the VR for a regular screen.

•Release date: Jan 24, 2017

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Resident Evil 7: When nausea strikes'. Subscribe