We all have our gaming white whales; the games we’ve always wanted to play but never got the chance to. One of the biggest examples I can think of for myself is The 7th Guest. It’s a title I always wanted to experience as a kid but never had the chance to. I was ecstatic when the VR remake was announced, especially since it was so out of left field.
I could have gone back whenever I wanted and played the original, of course. It’s available to purchase for modern computers. But so much of what made The 7th Guest stand out back when it first released was how revolutionary it was at the time. The novelty just wouldn’t be the same.
A remake built from the ground up exclusively for VR seemed like the perfect way for me to finally play through the game with the same sense of wonder I would have had as a kid. And luckily, it's a great choice for the Quest 3 and other VR headsets.
Afterlife of the party
The 7th Guest has a simple mystery setup: six strangers are invited to a creepy mansion by its strange owner, only to all wind up dead by morning. The story played out through campy FMV sequences when players successfully solve puzzles. And when I say campy, I mean high school drama club capital-C camp. Actors were chroma-keyed onto the pre-rendered backgrounds and took turns chewing the scenery as eccentric and flamboyant characters. It’s great!
I was really concerned this would be lost in the remake. The campy charm just wouldn’t come through the same way with animated characters and flat cutscenes in a VR game are too jarring. But Vertigo Studios managed to find a great solution by having FMVs in this new three-dimensional space through volumetric video.
Now, you can walk all around — or even right through — the ghostly FMV sequences as they’re played out before you in real time. It’s a really smart way to do something unique with VR and preserve the identity of the original game at the same time. And while the camp is toned down just a smidge, there’s enough intentional over-acting from the new cast to successfully achieve that Vincent Price horror movie vibe.
Escape room (and doom)
Unsurprisingly, puzzles are where The 7th Guest really shines. Every puzzle has been completely redone for VR, though some do have callbacks to the original game, such as the one in the dining room. In the original, you had to slice a huge sheet cake evenly to ensure each guest had a piece with the same symbols; now, rather than cutting cake, you have to divide plaques on a cake cover.
These puzzles are great for the most part and are very similar to what you’d solve in escape room-type games. They rarely felt too hard, though some in the later chapters proved to be a headache for me. A few are pretty ingenious for VR. There’s an entire room where the main gimmick involves teleporting your hand through portals, and it’s an absolute blast that wouldn't be as satisfying outside of virtual reality.
The new Spirit Lantern mechanic utilizes VR well, too. Henry Stauf's mansion is in ruins. Vases full of dead flowers, faded paintings, and scratched up furniture are your only companions as you make your way through its rooms. When you shine your Spirit Lantern, you’ll uncover a completely different version of the environment you’re in. Those dead flowers will bloom to life, the paintings will reveal sinister alternate images, and you might even find solutions to solving riddles.
Unfortunately, while VR enhances the best parts of The 7th Guest, it’s also responsible for its worst. The aforementioned cake cover you have to divide is now a globe instead of a flat rectangle, so you have to constantly rotate it back and forth as you figure out the solution. It was made even more tedious for me because my virtual skeleton hands glitched out like crazy.
Likewise, a later puzzle involving a theremin was an absolute nightmare for me because my hands suddenly flickered all over the place. Another puzzle involving a tower of ground beef pieced together like a 3D jigsaw had me so angry from the hand glitches that I had to walk away from the game for hours.
Because the puzzles tend to be so satisfying and fun to figure out, these ones where you’re practically penalized by hand detection glitches or clumsy implementation of a three-dimensional space really stand out. It’s one thing to struggle with a puzzle because it’s stumping you; it’s another to struggle with it because the game itself is hindering you.
I also had a nasty glitch where an item I needed became stuck under a bed and for some reason never respawned in the room. I only solved the impassable puzzle by paying for its auto-completion using collectible hint coins scattered throughout the mansion. Thankfully, these coins are plentiful, and you never have to do too much digging to find them, though I do wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t had the coins to solve that glitched puzzle for me.
Those glitches aren’t enough to completely hamper my enjoyment of the game, however. The 7th Guest has actually become my biggest VR surprise of the year, and I'd consider it one of the best Quest games. I had a very enjoyable time making my way through Stauf’s decrepit manor and unraveling the mystery. Aside from a few letdowns, most of the puzzles were a lot of fun. Finally getting an “a-ha!” moment on a tough puzzle was always satisfying.
More than anything, I adore that Vertigo Studios embraced the most iconic parts from one of the most influential games ever made rather than shunned them. It would have been so easy to remove the camp of the original and make the game have a darker edge with puzzles that felt more grounded. Instead, this remake feels lovingly while updating the original for modern players.
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Nick is a freelance journalist and games reviewer with a passion for RPGs, bad puns, and VR. When he isn’t guesting on podcasts or streaming on Twitch, he’s probably playing Borderlands with his husband.
I loooooooved this game as a kid! Made me love The Room series as well (which would have been PERFECT for VR, had they not taken ages to make a spin-off for it).Reply