Thirty years ago, The 7th Guest transformed PC gaming by becoming one of the first titles to force you to move on from your A: floppy drive and embrace CD-ROM. It was also a headline-grabbing experience, using real voices, acting, and silly scares to send preteens like me and my friends running from a room when shadows of crying children appeared on a wall, or a ghostly face questionably emerged from a pan of soup, like a minestrone version of the aliens in The Abyss.

This month, Vertigo Games celebrates the trailblazer’s 30-year anniversary by reimagining the same daft fun for modern audiences. The 7th Guest VR may draw on a largely forgotten yet no less wonderful inspiration, but it’s reshaped the campy, silly “horror” of Trilobyte Games’ source material into a truly compelling interactive outing.

With it, Vertigo has underlined the possibilities of remaking beloved IPs that pushed the needle of gaming. The 7th Guest VR isn’t perfect, but it’s a genuine triumph on a new level–one that makes you wonder how clever developers can spot opportunities to add new or different dimensions to past classics. Who thought The 7th Guest, of all things, could revolutionize gaming twice?

The 7th Guest VR kicks off by plonking you in a wooden canoe as you pick up a two-handed paddle and make your way to the boathouse of a spooky, abandoned manor. A young boy’s voice, and his dragonfly manifestation, guide you on your path. You grab your crucial lantern, which acts as a seer between the now and the once-was, restoring old things to new, and revealing hints and secrets–plus a cavalcade of delightfully dark paintings (a personal favorite being a pair of women beating a man to death with croquet mallets).


The game looks good–at least, on the Meta Quest 2 version tested–but it lacks polish. Still, it’s forgivable; the only thing you immediately struggle with is the movement controls. The “sliding” classic FPS approach to exploration is stomach-churning–a personal preference, I’m sure–but teleportation proves a more sensible option due to the maneuvers required between rooms, puzzles, and cutscenes. Sure, you’ll get stuck in the scenery or occasionally find yourself out of the game’s playing area, but it’s nothing a frantic, blind button bash won’t solve.

As with most VR experiences, the gravity shown by doors, axles, hinges, and free-moving objects is dependable. In no time, you’re slapping switches, catching paper notes between gleeful hands, and disdainfully throwing useless clues at even more useless objects out of frustration. It’s a playground for both serious problem solvers and virtual jesters alike.

Something old, mainly new

The 7th Guest VR quickly introduces you to its company of actors, who take their performances to delightfully campy levels but stop mercifully short of chewing the scenery. These mid-1930s characters are, for one reason or another, down on their luck–a bad investment here, a terrible career there–and this desperation lures them to the home of eccentric, rich toymaker Henry Stauf, who promises to make their wildest dreams come true, so long as they play his games.

Admittedly, their presence takes some getting used to. They take on an odd, green-tinged glow–Slimer if he was human, and probably went to an Ivy League school–and there’s an ever-so-slight mistiming between audio and lip movement. Still, The 7th Guest VR is as much of a B-movie as its 1993 predecessor, so it’s forgivable–not least because you can dance around each performance and take it in from different angles.

While the first floor is more or less identical to The 7th Guest, this new take on an old tale immediately separates itself from its source material. The rest of the experience–games, stories, conversations, deaths, and the rest–is, at most, lightly inspired by its predecessor. It’s a great decision; die-hards don’t get an easy ride, and it plays to the demands of a modern VR audience that craves interaction, immersion, and more exciting challenges.

The concept remains the same. The 7th Guest VR shares a lot with Fireproof Studios’ The Room, albeit a lot less frightening. Puzzles come thick, fast, and intertwined in self-contained spaces, usually culminating in a final challenge to solve. Once you’ve solved it, the clock strikes a new hour, the room restores itself to its past glory, and new locations are unlocked–and the story moves on.

A helping hand

The 7th Guest VR doesn’t ease you into its format. The first brainteaser, set in a dining room, was one of the most opaque tests in the game, tasking you to open a dessert cover while simultaneously getting to grips with its nearly-there interactive physics. Luckily, this first space also gives you a spirit board with a map, progression stats, and two free hints to every puzzle.

Throughout, The 7th Guest VR delightfully sprinkles time-honored riddles with new, somewhat weird mysteries, challenging all tastes and undoubtedly stumping even the most ardent quizzer. Most rooms combine exploration, collection, and assembly, but there’s always room for simple logic. Whether you’re sliding coffins, casting shadows, or putting your hand in a magician’s many hats, the satisfaction of trying ideas feels second only to actually solving these conundrums.

If you find any of the game’s 50 collectible coins (and you definitely will), you can spend your way out of a frustrating or downright confounding test–though not in quick succession, as The 7th Guest VR forces you to wait five minutes between each bought “solution.” Rightly so–like most difficult work emails or Wordle solutions, you only need a quick break for clarity and victory.

That said, you’ll often find yourself tempted to use hard cash to skip puzzles to move on in a “break glass in case of emergency” way. For me, it was limited to three moments: a repetitive and confounding test (the classic ); arachnophobia (thanks, bathroom); and an anger-inducing concept I’ve never understood (the ).

Still, spending coins to skip these challenges doesn’t teach you how these work; conundrums are just… solved. Maybe it’s for the satisfaction of figuring it out in the next playthrough? That’s useless to me; I’m 37 and I’m getting less able by the day.

Upon completing each of the mansion’s 17 rooms, each is restored to its pre-dilapidated beauty–a nice touch, especially as you’re only given hints of the house’s imperial years through your lantern. It’s a real weight lifted off your shoulders, as well as a spark to push you on. If the Meta Quest 2 had a battery life longer than two to three hours, I’d’ve probably tried to clear the full thing in one go, even if it would give me a day-long migraine. (Narrator: It did anyway, as he spends the rest of his day in front of a screen.)

For all its insignificant quirks, The 7th Guest VR only appeared to have one “game-breaking” bug: the infamous nursery room, delightfully redesigned with the most textbook horror tea party in history, mostly worked but glitched in two interactive sections, to the point it could only be solved by spending a coin. Weirdly, it was fine the first time I tried it, but this first go was cut short due to the dire need to recharge my headset.

All in all, The 7th Guest VR takes around seven hours to complete, depending on your critical thinking, your personal desire to pay your way to clear puzzles that you can’t (or don’t want to) solve, and your opportunity–nay, right–to dick around. I must’ve spent at least half an hour attempting to juggle severed dolls’ heads, Kobe ornaments into trashcans from increasing distances, or go full finger guns to an audience of none when celebrating success in a room.

A brave new VR world

The 7th Guest VR doesn’t just set a high bar for virtual reality experiences in 2023–it’s the perfect case study for developers who are willing to look to brilliant games that captured imaginations years ago and transform them into something much more immersive, exciting, and compelling.

Sure, it’s not a 10/10 VR game, but it’s not too far off. While Vertigo might be tempted to revisit the IP with a reimagining of The 7th Guest’s sequel The 11th Hour, let’s hope it doesn’t–it isn’t great, and the nostalgia probably isn’t there. What about I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, The Wheel of Time, or literally any LucasArts release? I don’t have much money, but if you want to reimagine these in VR, I’ll throw all I’ve got at you.