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I tasted the Game Scent so you don't have to

Ewan Moore

Published 
| Last updated 

I tasted the Game Scent so you don't have to

Featured Image Credit: Game Scent

Let me set the scene. You’re playing Resident Evil 4. As Leon Kennedy slowly starts to realise something is Very Wrong Indeed in this rural Spanish town, a villager lumbers toward you dragging an axe across the floor. You can see the threat. You can hear the threat. But don’t you want to know what the threat smells like?

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If you don’t have an answer to that question, I fear the Game Scent may not be for you. In truth, I’m not totally sure who the Game Scent is supposed to be for, but the people that created it seem pretty damn excited about it and, judging by the huge reaction the device’s original announcement got on social media, there may actually be an audience for this I can’t see.

During our meeting I was told more than once that “we’re finally bringing the final two senses to gaming”, which is not something I was aware anyone was asking for but I’m willing to admit I could be out of the loop on that one. It took me ten years to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout, so I’m fairly out of touch in general.

Those final two senses are, of course, smell and taste. While the Game Scent is primarily designed to release whiffs and odours at timed intervals, around 80-90 percent of what we perceive as taste is in fact smell. So in theory you could not only smell the mind controlled villagers of Resident Evil 4, but taste them too. Imagine playing Resident Evil 2 and finally licking the licker.

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It’s worth noting that the Game Scent isn’t launching with an unlimited range of scents, as the team is working to get individual odours right before releasing them. Don’t expect Essence de Ganondorf anytime soon, as your Game Scent will arrive with the following six whiffs: Gun Fire, Explosion, Racing, Clean Air, Storm, and Forest.

The Game Scent itself is a small box which works with all consoles, PCs and even VR headsets. A peripheral that actually works with every platform is, I admit, genuinely impressive, and it’s something Team Game Scent were adamant about from the start.

Once you’ve set up your device by plugging it into the relevant console and inserting your scent cartridges (there’s space for six), the box uses audio cues from your game to dispense its magical whiffs.

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As an example, we were shown the Game Scent in action plugged into an Xbox Series X playing Far Cry 6. As we ran through the forest, the Forest scent was dispensed, filling my nostrils with a pleasing pine-fresh odour. As a firefight broke out, I was treated to the smoky delights of Gun Fire, before a climatic car chase gave me a whiff of Racing, which basically just smells like a new car.

If you’re worried about your house smelling like an explosion in a perfume factory, the Game Scent can dispense the Clean Air scent on demand, which is supposed to clear the air of all the other competing pongs. Oh, and the scents will only activate again after a set time, so you aren’t filling the air with gunfire every single time you fire a shot.

If I’m being honest, it was hard to smell much of anything after getting a face full of Forest. I’m willing to concede this was probably because I was sitting inches away from the Game Scent, but it was very much like being sprayed in the face with perfume at a department store. It left a tangy taste in my mouth and gave me a small headache, so I wouldn’t recommend setting your own Game Scent up right next to where you play. But at least I know what Game Scent tastes like so you don’t have to.

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I wasn’t wowed by our demo. Being bombarded with various perfumey odours isn’t exactly my idea of a good time when I’m trying to play a game, and while I do think the idea of certain smells helping to set the scene - like when we wandered into the forest - is actually really cool, I could live without things like fire and car interiors getting all up in my precious nostrils.

For me, the most exciting application of the Game Scent would be to enhance a Dungeons & Dragons session, wherein you could manually dispense scents to help immerse players in certain scenarios. But for video games where, traditionally, lots of things are all happening at once, I fear the Game Scent might just be a bit too much.

Still, I expect there are gamers who will get a kick out of this device, and I’m definitely morbidly curious to see if they end up developing less pleasant smells like Zombie, Blood, and The Great Mighty Poo down the line.

Topics: Tech, Resident Evil, Far Cry, Xbox

Ewan Moore
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