I have to admit I didn’t expect much going into Dying: Reborn PSVR. Publisher Oasis Games’ previous efforts on PlayStation VR (PSVR) have ranged from the mediocre (Ace Banana) to the downright terrible (Weeping Doll and Pixel Gear), so you could forgive me for being skeptical that this would be a different story. Much to my surprise, though, I found myself starting to have a bit of fun with this cheesy B-movie style escape room game.
But, just as soon as it started, it was over.
You see, Dying: Reborn PSVR isn’t the full game. Instead, it’s three excerpts from the first three levels of the full campaign, which does not support VR. It only takes about an hour to see through the VR content, if that. This would be fine if it was available as a free experience for PSVR owners that picked up the full game but, instead, Oasis Games has decided to charge for it, effectively making it a premium demo. If there was enough here to warrant a price then that might be less of a problem, but Dying: Reborn is sadly the same story we’re seeing with many early PSVR titles: too short and no depth.
Piecing together the game’s story is tricky when parts of it have been carved out, though the voice acting is one of its more enjoyable flaws. I know VR is in the early days akin to the original PlayStation, but that doesn’t mean voice overs have to act like it. I laughed out loud listening to the dialogue, which makes Jill sandwiches sound like Shakespeare. Without the context of the entire game or even a proper ending, much of the narrative doesn’t fit. You won’t even see the amusing fish-headed villain that’s on the front cover in the flesh, just as a silhouette through a TV screen (drinking a glass of wine, much to my delight).
That’s indicative of the entire game, too. Even sequentially; I’d end one level by walking through one door and then start the next one off as if I’d walked through another. I could tell sections had been cut out, for whatever reason, and I was getting an abridged version.
What is here isn’t terrible, though. As far as escape room games go, I found Dying: Reborn struck a pretty nice balance between brain-teasers and progression. I was able to solve each of the game’s puzzles on my own (which speaks to their simplicity), though there were a few times I’d find myself wandering up and down a corridor, unsure of what to do next.
While many of the challenges simply involve entering the correct number on a keypad, they still delivered in interesting ways. One was a grid that I had to select specific tiles on, for example, and it was used multiple times for different puzzles. The game’s never mind-bendingly clever, but there is a methodical satisfaction to progressing through the trials step-by-step, even if it never goes further than that.
That’s in spite of VR though. Though the simplistic graphics (a notable downgrade from the full game) help Dying: Reborn’s 3D effect, there’s no real reason for the game to actually be played with a headset. The environments are largely static, with assets reused time and again, giving the whole thing a very Unity asset store feel. Though I appreciated being able to move in VR with a DualShock 4, this was far from a great example of the powerful emotions this technology can drum up.