Games: Until Dawn prequel The Inpatient on PS4/VR

Neil McGreevy

The Inpatient (PS4/VR)

By: Sony

THE humble loony bin's an oft-visited setting for many a horror flick – particularly sequels, with Hellraiser and Halloween demobbing to padded walls for their second outings and Nightmare on Elm Street nuthouse-bound for its underrated third effort.

And so Sony's latest horror invites you to strap on the expensive goggles and check yourself into the funny farm as the titular inpatient in Supermassive's VR thriller.

No stranger to the genre, the developer skilfully subverted slasher tropes with their interactive horror flick, Until Dawn, and proved their eyeball-hoodwinking chops with VR showcase Rush of Blood.

The Inpatient, however, ditches the screaming teens for a mature, psychological take on scaring the bejesus out of players.

Waking in Blackwood Pines sanatorium sans memory, the VR thriller acts as a prequel to the events of Until Dawn, as the sinister Dr Bragg administers treatment to cure your amnesia.

When a new cellmate offers clues to a local tragedy, you're soon trying to escape in an old-school throwback to thrillers past.

With swaggering VR tech, The Inpatient's opening scenes promise a real nerve-shredder as players roam the bin, making butterfly effect choices to save fellow nutters and staff.

It's a molasses slow-burn as you interact with objects and engage in branching conversations with the eerily realistic staff.

Sadly, though, it all gets lost somewhere in the middle, its early setup tossed aside in favour of a mythical monster mash focusing on the Wendigo that roamed Until Dawn's final act.

Still, The Inpatient's lean two hours are packed with so many details and masterful set-ups – one brilliant sequence has the player keeping their noggin as still as possible to avoid being attacked by a monster – that you can't help but enjoy the ride.

It's that running time that proves the real sticking point here. Lasting barely longer than a film, yet costing a pocket-gouging £35 on the PlayStation Store (though it can be picked up on disc for a bit less), those additional play-throughs for multiple endings are a must to eek any value out of your hard-earned.

A middling creepshow salvaged by some nifty VR, The Inpatient doesn't reinvent the wheel in the same way Until Dawn did for slashers.

Much like myself, it's a slick enough package undermined by a flabby middle section and a pay-off that comes much too quickly.

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