Dying: Reborn PS4 Review

Publisher: Oasis Games  Developer: NEKCOM  Genre: Horror, Room Escape  Players: 1

Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Don’t buy this game. Don’t buy this game. Don’t buy this game. Well, that was an easy review…

Of course I wouldn’t be allowed off that easily. Dying: Reborn is probably one of the worst horror games I have played in a while, and I use the term ‘horror’ very loosely – heck, I would even recommend Weeping Doll over this trite. The game isn’t scary, there’s no tension to up the urgency. It seems as though the developers put no thought, love or passion into this project at all, and it painfully shows, with stilted voice acting, poor graphics, terribly designed puzzles. The game is menial in its overall design and it says a lot about the game when the developer thinks they are being ingenious by spelling the ‘loading’ icon as ‘loadying’ in reference to the title – so cringeworthy original.

This guy is your captive. So scary.

The story is basically a Saw-type scenario which sees a man called Mathew sealed up in various rooms which he has to escape. His mission is to survive long enough to find out what has happened to his friend, a woman called Shirley, and along the way meets a couple of other characters, one of whom it is never explained who they are and what they are doing there, the other being the ring master behind it all. You’d think because I am comparing it to Saw that this is actually an appealing game, but it really isn’t; it doesn’t even have the gore factor to make up for the lacklustre gameplay and story.

Dying: Reborn is like the supermarket own-brand label of horror games; bland and too tedious to eat up, though I did anyway, because it’s still a horror game and I like horror games, this one being an exception. Graphically the game looks as though it could run on a PS2, with dull, run-of-the-mill environment designs; a potted plant here, cracked walls there, boarded up windows and doors, paintings and other random items littered about. Think of any other empty, dilapidated building in any other horror game and you get the idea.

Then there’s the poor sound design. One sound in particular really got beneath my skin, an obnoxious noise that blares out every time you pick up an item and it really got through to the nerves in the back of my skull. A lot of the noises in the game sound like stock sound effects that will abruptly cut off and any music will loop over and over until it bores a hole into your brain. At one point a sign falls from a hook and there is no sound at all. During one section the character is supposedly panting aggressively as he makes an escape and it caused an unintentionally amusing moment how the panting would abruptly start every time you moved an inch. It wasn’t even a gradual build up of panting – you move the analogue stick, the guy begins panting loudly; after a while it starts to sound like you’re playing an entirely different kind of game….. It certainly wasn’t subtle that someone had breathed loudly into a microphone – earphone users beware.

Environments are generic and lack any sort of atmosphere.

The story itself is very patronising to the intelligence of the player, with later revelations coming across as though it is something that players definitely wouldn’t expect, even though you more than likely would. The story is as predictable as they come, with literal forgettable characters – one character suddenly vanishes towards the middle of the game with no explanation, at least not one that I cared enough to find – and terrible dialogue. There’s some amusement to be had with the voice acting and it really did take me back to the earlier days of gaming when voice acting was still in its youth and not seen as something to be taken seriously, though a bit more effort could have been made, but that’s probably asking too much considering the state of this game.

The characters themselves are incredibly shallow with one character whose only purpose, it seems, was to be the deus ex machina, helping the main character to escape from rooms the developers couldn’t work out a way for the main character to escape from themselves. The main character himself, Mathew, comes across as rather dim, lacking any logical thought, and the main antagonist is nothing more than a pantomime villain, appearing on TV screens and flamboyantly holding a glass of wine as he tortures the main character with his dramatic reading-esque dialogue. I do think the main villains design is humorous though… he has a fish for a head. That you are supposed to take seriously. Do I need say more?

So with everything else being quality thus far, how does the actual gameplay pan out? As you would expect really. The puzzles in the game lack any kind of originality or skill, and usually the process is find item A to find item B to find a passcode to unlock something, usually a briefcase or safe, to find item C and so on. The design of some of the puzzles is so vague and in some you would not come to such a logical conclusion that the puzzle expects of you, leading to a lot of frustration as you try to work it out. Puzzles range from simplistic to aggravating with a simple solution to just aggravating as it takes you forever to work out what to do. The puzzles are in no way fun or rewarding to solve and with such a lacklustre story, I question what the motivation is for a player to continue even playing this game and solving these puzzles – perhaps some get the satisfaction of knowing they have solved a puzzle in and of itself, but otherwise there is no motivation to play whatsoever.

Puzzles aren’t engaging and are a mixed bag of difficulty, ranging from easy to super duper vague and unsolvable without the use of a walkthrough.

As you complete puzzles you are rewarded trophies, though these are hardly difficult to come by as any simple action you make is rewarded, such as just launching the game. Yes, that is an actual trophy – the developers know this game is so bad that they give you a trophy for even starting to play it. Other issues the game has is that, despite its poor game design, there is some frame rate drops somehow. I don’t even know how that is possible; there is nothing on screen that would take up much processing power to cause such lag – this is hardly Just Cause 3. The controls are also unresponsive – when you press a button you expect an immediate response, but whatever you are moving or pressing, there does seem to be a few seconds delay as the game works out what you are trying to do. It’s almost as dim as the main character. During one puzzle towards the end, flipping in and out of your notebook to check the solution results in the controls during the puzzle freezing, and this would happen for me several times, leading to multiple reloads. In the end I had to write the solution down separately as it seemed using the notebook is what caused the freezing, though it beggars belief that something as simple as consulting your notebook risks freezing the controls; again this must have been because of the response delay.

As for the fear factor, well, I have already mentioned that this game isn’t the least bit scary. A body gets dragged off, a mannequin is thrown through a mirror, one is glaring down at you in pieces above you where you first wake up. As you exit a room someone enters, and that is one genuinely creepy moment as the main character slowly and quietly draws out of the room as the other person enters, though during its 2-3 hour run, there’s little in the way of heart-stopping scares. There’s no build-up of tension, no wondering what on earth is going to happen next – well, you are wondering that, but for the wrong reasons. First and foremost this game is a room escape game, though a few more scares, even just a few more jump scares, as cheap as they are, would have made this game slightly more salvageable – you know a horror game is bad when you are begging for jump scares.

As far as I can tell, you never discover who this person is and what she was doing there, and she is completely forgotten about halfway through the game. You get her name, and nothing else. Also, the camera is constantly moving during these cutscenes, making it feel as though you are rocking on a boat – at least the developers allow you to feel motion sickness without the use of VR. So thoughtful.

Dying: Reborn is also available for the VR as a separate purchase, though somehow this is even worse. The puzzles are simplified, though can still be just as vague to complete, and the game is only half as long, with three sections as opposed to the main games’ six. Do not bother buying this version as it somehow has less substance than the main game, and isn’t even as scary, which says a lot considering the main game has very few scares already, and not very good ones. There are parts of the main game that would have been made all the more creepy had it been left in the VR version, though the developers made the smart decision to remove anything remotely heart jolting – why would you even do that?? The VR was made for horror games, why would you remove the horror, and the very small amount of horror the game offers in the first place??

Dying: Reborn is an insult to gamers and even has the gall to set up a sequel bate ending; clearly the developers are being naively optimistic. I do have to wonder why this game even exists – there are two versions so I can hardly call one or the other a shameless cash-grab. Perhaps this was done to give people the option of buying one or the other; quite thoughtful of the developers you would think, but the VR version isn’t even worth it. The VR version is currently priced at £7.99 and the regular version is £15.49, and neither one are worth those prices. Perhaps of the two the VR version is a cash-grab as any horror game still has a huge appeal in VR, with many developers releasing rubbish knowing people will still buy it despite how bad it is, all because scary is more fun in VR. But I still fail to see why the main game exists as it certainly isn’t offering much at all, if anything. The only redeemable aspect this game has is in its unintentional humour, and even that is few and far between and is even less in VR. A laughable effort, avoid this game at all costs.