Horror is one genre that VR is giving the biggest boost. Even a mediocre horror game can get an extra boost by the immersion that VR can provide. Continuing that line of thought, Weeping Doll is a mediocre horror game that gets an extra boost thanks to the immersion that VR provided it. This doesn't really change the fact that it's still not really worth playing.
You play as a maid who works for a family that has twin daughters: Youko and Ayasa. Youko is a normal girl, but Ayasa was born with a disfiguring facial mark. As such, her parents keep her mostly locked up and treat Youko better. One day, you get a call from the mistress who is screaming about seeing a "weeping doll", and how the lord has been murdered. So, you investigate the house to find out what happened. This leads to a nonsensical story that seems to have difficulty conveying itself despite how hilariously simple it is. Part of this is because the same few plot points are repeated over and over, like the game is worried you'll forget them if it doesn't. Part is because any time the game wants to convey plot, it locks you in a room for several minutes so someone can give you an exposition dump.
The first thing I had to get used to is Weeping Doll's strange movement scheme. Instead of just moving about, you use the left stick to control a ghostly image of your character around the environment. You put this image where you want and then hit a button and teleport to that spot. It's a bit of a weird system, but I didn't find it too bad once I was used to it. I do wish there was an option to just move around normally, but this worked well enough.
Of course, even with all that moving around, there's not exactly much to do in Weeping Doll. Your goal is to solve basic puzzles to unlock more areas of the house so you can figure out what's going on. Your character can hold an item in each of her hands, and she'll combine the two items if you hold both triggers at once. This is a skill you use a grand total of once, and it's when the tutorial for it shows up. The inventory is navigated in a strange way, pressing a button causing you to get surrounded by squares where you can store items and pressing one of the triggers while looking at an item causes it to fly into one of your hands. Despite this strange inventory system, most items you find are used as soon as you find them, so no need to go digging around.
While I don't think the ideas behind the puzzles were that bad, most of them were extremely simple and not very interesting. For example, entering the master bedroom sees a door locking behind you, and you need a missing gear to open the door. To do this you solve some really simple puzzles, like changing a clock's time to one on a picture or turning a bath tub off to get a key in the bottom. None of this really requires much critical thought, rather just looking around the environment for which few objects you can interact with. It makes the game boring, and despite only having a run time of about an hour I was ready for it to be done quite early in.
It also doesn't help that, despite being billed as a horror game, Weeping Doll isn't scary at all. There's a bit of good atmosphere built at the beginning, a result of the aforementioned point of VR being a boon towards horror games. It's just that the more involved I got in the game, the more bored of it I became, and the more I was hoping for just any sort of scare. In the end, no matter how hard the game tried, I never felt much fear other than for that of my sanity.
Technically there's not much to say about Weeping Doll's graphics, but artistically it's a total mess. It feels like the developers couldn't decide on any time period or setting for the game. You enter the house and it looks like a traditional late 1800s American house. Then the bedroom is suddenly traditional Japanese. All the characters wear kimonos while listening to gramophones, watching CRT TVs, and talking on their cell phones. There's no real soundtrack to speak of, but a lot could be said about how terrible the voice acting is. In particular, the "little kid" voice sounds like a full grown woman speaking in a high pitched voice to sound like a kid. I guess there were scenes that were supposed to be scary, but they were more stupid than anything else.
I also want to talk about Weeping Doll's ending, which I think deserves special mention. At one point in the game had me chase a little girl, and when I got to the room she was hiding in, I was greeted with picture's of the game's staff and their names on the wall, along with a trophy saying I had completed the game. The game doesn't end, so much as just stops when it feels like it. I've decided that if the developers get to stop their game then I get to just stop my review.
Weeping Doll was reviewed on a PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Weeping Doll is a horror game that isn't scary and features a nonsensical story, boring puzzles, and terrible voice acting.(Review Policy)
- Good Atmosphere at First
- Sound Puzzle Ideas
- Poorly Told Story
- Terrible Voice Acting
- Boring Puzzles
- Artistically Inconsistant
- Doesn't End, Just Stops