Escape this disaster
The original Dying: Reborn was launched on PlayStation 4 and Vita back in February and introduced players to Matthew, a horribly-acted (but in a good way) main character who finds himself trapped in a dilapidated hotel while on a quest to locate his missing sister. Matthew must solve several morbid puzzles to claw his way deeper into the abandoned hotel and discover what is really going on with his sibling. It was a neat take on the escape room fad that seems to be sweeping the nation, taking over old closed down corner stores in the back of shopping centers. Dying: Reborn featured 6 areas in the hotel that Matthew must escape from and offered a great couch co-op experience for gamers who didn’t wish to tackle the hotel’s secrets alone. Like escape rooms, Dying: Reborn played a smidge better when more than one set of eyes could take in all the subtle hints scattered throughout the environments. I was excited when I read a VR version of Dying: Reborn was being developed for PSVR and couldn’t wait to walk the eerie hotel’s hallways in virtual reality, but when I discovered that it was going to be an abridged version I was a little confused.
Dying: Reborn VR starts off bad from the get go. The main menu music is a soft melody that is very similar to the music you will hear throughout your quick playthrough, but when you choose a new game to begin your quest, the music abruptly stops and a thumping beat will begin. During this beat the VR headset will display a black screen, then all of the sudden the soft melody starts back up again. “What the hell happened?” I said to myself. “Did I press the back button by accident?” Nope, the game did this every time a new sequence would load up to begin a new chapter. This moment defined my whole experience with Dying: Reborn VR. It’s confusing and half-baked.
If you’re going into Dying: Reborn VR fresh and without knowing there is a separate, full game available on the PlayStation Store, you’ll be oblivious to the fact that this game is not finished. You’ll probably be excited the first time you enter the hotel and see 6 doors, 5 being boarded up, just begging you to discover what’s inside. Matthew controls well enough with a control scheme that is very similar to the PSVR title Here They Lie, where the player is given first person view and full control of walking. Also, like in Here They Lie, the first-person view is accompanied by 45° turns by way of flicking the right analogue stick. I was hoping that since Capcom’s Resident Evil VII demonstrated how to not make players sick through the use of fluid turns that other studios would take note, but that is not the case in Dying: Reborn VR. There is a small dot located in the center of the screen and lining up this dot on items in the hotel will either pick up the item or give a description. The inventory menu can be brought up by pressing the L1 button and here you can combine two items or hold an item in your hand and attempt to use it with the environment. It all works well enough but I found that Matthew walked too slowly for my liking. There is no run button in sight and I’d often try pushing up on the right stick harder in hopes to get to my destination quicker. When the game tasks you with remember a sequence of numbers to be used at the end of a long hallway, Matthew’s slow walk can feel like he’s knee deep in quicksand.
The three areas that the VR version of Dying: Reborn tosses the player into are extremely fun and well thought out. Figuring out the puzzles never took me too long, but made me think unlike any game I’ve played in a while. I felt accomplished when exiting a room and really enjoyed searching every nook and cranny of the old hotel. Liquor bottles and other various items are scattered throughout the building and got me to wonder what really happened in the abandoned structure before it was turned into an elaborate escape experiment. The villain will communicate with Matthew a few times during the unfinished experience but the VR version never really let’s the player on what his motives are. The crazy thing is that the fish-head featured on the cover art for the game on the PlayStation Store never even makes an appearance.
Dying: Reborn VR starts the player out in a bedroom of sorts where a door seems to be accessible from the get go, but when the door is approached a large wall of bars fall from the ceiling; blocking the exit. In this room there are several pieces of inventory to pick up but since this game isn’t the full experience, some of these pieces aren’t even needed and end up disappearing from the inventory menu. Due to these unneeded pieces of equipment clogging up my inventory, I found myself wandering around more often that I should have while trying to figure out what to do with them. Thankfully, this was the only area where I had this problem, but to start off the game like this left a bad taste in my mouth. When a room is escaped Matthew will be back in the main hall with a door that was previously boarded up now open. Escape the 2nd room and then a 3rd door will be accessible. The deeper you get into the hotel the more elaborate the rooms get and once the 3rd room is conquered you’ll be greeted with this:
CaseWL0325 Data lost.
Unable to continue building the scenario.
(Error) Backtrack terminated.
And then the weird thumping music will play for a quick second and cut back to the quiet melody.
You finished an unfinished game. The remaining 3 doors are still boarded up. That’s it! Want to find out what happened to Matthew and his sister? Fork over $20 and get the full version. You get nothing! Good day sir!
Final Verdict: 1.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 ; Publisher: Oasis Games Ltd. ; Developer: NEKCOM; Players: 1 ; Released: February 28, 2017 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Dying: Reborn VR given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.