If you were on Newgrounds at basically any time in your life, you probably know of "escape the room" style games. Dying: Reborn VR is sort of like that, placing you in one room and tasking you to escape by solving some rather silly puzzles. Does this effort make this old genre work, or does it fail like many of them?
First things first, Dying: Reborn VR is a stand-alone $10 game that has half the content of Dying: Reborn. It's not just that game in VR, but rather only the first, second, and fourth level of that game. It's half the content for half the price. This means that the game is split in weird ways. At times it's obvious that you've skipped some content when you exit into one area to end a level and start somewhere completely different. The hub world that connects the levels clearly has areas boarded off that are in the full game but not here. If this was a bonus mode to the main game that'd be fine, but Dying: Reborn VR is a stand-alone game that you need to purchase even if you get the other version. It's hard to shake the feeling that I'm playing a demo of another title.
You play as Mathew, a man who wakes up in a hotel with no memory of how he got there. Unfortunately for him, there's a crazed person setting up puzzles and traps, and this man is holding his sister hostage. Theoretically, he needs to save his sister and escape. In practice, the game suddenly goes "simulation end" and cuts back to the title screen halfway through. I'd say it's disappointing, but with how uninteresting the story was at that point, I'm not sure I cared that much.
Gameplay is rather simple. All you can really do is walk around and interact with items, with no other abilities. You can pick up some items to use later and can combine some items, but you won't be using any other powers or special skills. I don't think the game needed more than this, but I sure wished that it had an ability to highlight items I could interact with. More than once I felt I was just pixel hunting for some object that I couldn't find but needed to advance. As it stands, about half of the two hours it took me to finish Dying: Reborn VR was spent pixel hunting.
If you can actually find the objects you're supposed to, you can solve some puzzles as well. Some puzzles are actually not that bad. Using numbers to figure out a unique picross-styled lock was fun, while another required me to shut off lights to line up some pain that only glowed in the dark to figure out a safe's combination. I did also enjoy the simplicity of some puzzles, like when I didn't need to solve a strange cryptic thing to open one rusty padlock. I just found a fire extinguisher and smacked it open.
Sadly for every well-crafted puzzle, there seem to be two stupid ones. More often than I'd like to admit I was stuck wandering around trying to figure what I was supposed to do, or searching for a guide because a puzzle made no sense. Some puzzles don't translate well to consoles: one that requires tilting your iPad to read distorted numbers is here, but there's no real way to do the same even with the PSVR headset. Another required me to figure out a number combination using some clues in the environment, and eventually, I just looked up that one because it made no sense. Even after finding the solution, I have no clue how I was supposed to reach it. I was worried this may just be me, so I had a friend try the puzzle and he also couldn't figure it out. The guy I watched solve it on YouTube also admitted that it made no sense and required leaps of logic that the game didn't provide.
Graphically, there's not much to talk about in Dying: Reborn VR. The game looks okay, but it doesn't have any sort of standout art style. These are the same dingy rundown rooms that you'd see in any other horror game. The real problem comes in from the audio front. The soundtrack is a total mess, constantly cutting tracks short or switching to strange inappropriate tunes for whatever is going on. Sound effects are all extremely loud and at one point I had to rip my headset off when I opened a door and was greeted with an ear-piercing creaking noise. The game is also full of some hilariously terrible voice acting, with everyone sounding like they're just extremely bored and have no interest in being there.
While I think Dying: Reborn VR tried some cool puzzles, there was too much wrong with the game for me to suggest it. Most of the puzzles either aren't very good or make no sense, the story just stops, the audio is a total mess, and the game has a reliance on hunting for tiny objects that are difficult to see. Maybe it's not worth saving all things that are dying.
Dying: Reborn VR was reviewed on a PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the developer.
Dying: Reborn VR has a few cool puzzles, but most of the puzzles are terrible and require absurd leaps in logic or for you to pixel hunt for difficult-to-see items. The rest of the game doesn't hold up at all.
- A Few Cool Puzzles
- Most Puzzles are Terrible
- Audio is Always Too Loud
- Incomplete Experience
- Terrible Voice Acting
- Pixel Hunting