Horror is a genre that mostly shows and doesn’t tell, and Resident Evil has been doing this for a long time. To this day the formula hasn’t rotted, unlike the infected enemies in the games. Especially with the more recent titles in the series such as Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil: Village; both being atmospheric anxiety-fests that bring a grotesque ingredient into the broth instead of the more action-oriented Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6.
Resident Evil 7 was a chilling and atmospheric horror game that saw Ethan Winters looking for his wife inside a large home with a… let’s just say ‘peculiar’ family inside. For the first time ever in the series, the whole game being in first person brought a brand new perspective. But now, that perspective is not just a frightening feast for the eyes, but for the nose too.
How does Resident Evil smell?
Being able to smell all the dead people really makes you feel like and feel for a Resident Evil protagonist. In Australia, a few researchers tested with a VR scent function and the game they chose to test this new tech was, of course, Resident Evil 7. This was mostly due to the scenes that would definitely cause you to barf all over yourself if you were in Ethan’s shoes. One such scene that people were excited to test out was the unsettling dinner scene, where you are sat at a table strewn with what seems to be human remains and guts and all sorts of nasties. Well, instead of just looking revolting now you can smell how revolting it is too. Fans of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre can, at last, get the experience they’ve been craving.
“The power of scent lies in its direct link to our limbic system, the area of our brains responsible for memory and emotion, and the part that influences our unconscious behaviours and motivations.”OVR Technology on the sense of smell
It works by having a plastic pipe underneath the nose of the player and releasing a chemical-based scent based on what’s on screen at the time. And with a game with as many grotesque scenes and horrific images as Resident Evil 7, you can imagine this is quite an assault on the nasal passage. This technology’s still in the process of being fine-tuned and slimmed down to be more accessible on future VR headsets. So if you’ve ever wanted to know what a rotting house smells like, or perhaps its insane inhabitants who haven’t had a shower in a long time: now is the time to be alive.
The Future smells great apparently
It would be easy to write this off as a fun test, however the data collected showed that the game felt much more realistic to the testers. It added a whole new layer of terror to the game and immersed them further into the game’s nightmarish situations.
Another application for this new VR technology is to implement it in other fields such as exposure therapy. It uses a simulated environment to expose people to things that cause them extreme anxiety whilst still being in a safe environment for the person undergoing the treatment.
If you are unable to find yourself selected for these tests you can of course buy the official scented candle and just have it on your desk. Just be careful not to burn your house down and find yourself in your own horror game.
It is exciting to see just how far we are pushing technology to add immersion to video games and enhance the player experience as well as opening the door to implementing VR technology into more aspects of life. It’s also bizarre to see how Smell-O-Vision has found a return in videogames of all things.
It’s also exciting to see two legends of horror get together and talk, including Resident Evil’s very own director Shinji Mikami, about all things horror. You can also check out our very own series on Resident Evil 8 in 2 Guys 1 Pad. Let us know in the comments if you’d be brave enough to tackle horror games in Smell-VR, and join our Discord for even more gaming news and talk.