Review: DYING: Reborn (PS4/PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: DYING: Reborn
Format: PSN (PS4 10.77 GB) (PS VR 2.90 GB)
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Oasis Games Ltd.
Developer: NEKCOM
Original MSRP: $19.99 (PS4), $9.99 (PS VR)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Buyer Beware! In order to fully experience Dying: Reborn, you must purchase the PlayStation 4 version, not the PlayStation VR version. That is to say that purchasing the PS VR title only gives you an abridged version of the full game. Even the puzzles within each stage are abridged, with you having to do less to get from point A to point B in the VR version.

Both versions are sold separately, as opposed to a situation like Resident Evil 7 which includes both. This hurts anyone hoping for the next horror experience in VR as this is very much an incomplete game. I realized this halfway through the PS VR edition and had to start over on the standard game in order to fully cover the review.

Dying: Reborn is indeed a physiological horror game. Those fresh off the Resident Evil 7 experience will probably find familiarity here. Hell, even the story feels somewhat recognizable. But this is not an adventure game. It holds more in common with an “escape” game, where you are stuck in a situation or a room and have to solve complex puzzles in order to escape.

Most tasks are fairly logic-based, but some of them are downright brutal. For example, I know little-to-nothing about music, as in playing music, and one puzzle required me to understand what song to play on a piano, with little explanation.

… the relatively short campaign, much shorter if you are playing in VR …
In fact, if I hadn’t known the song I had to play, I would have been royally screwed. I’ll be honest: I had to look it up. There is an inventory system, but it’s mainly used to hold an item until it’s required for a puzzle.

Perhaps these types of puzzles would resonate with a more experienced gamer in the puzzle genre. So I could forgive that one puzzle and state that the rest of the experience moved along smoothly with a little searching and combining of elements leading to further conundrums to resolve. And so it was throughout the relatively short campaign, much shorter if you are playing in VR.

While there are a few minor jump scares, the “horror” comes more from atmosphere and the feeling of being trapped with no way to defend yourself, but since most threats come from simply being trapped, you never quite feel that intense sensation of danger.

Optional PlayStation VR Content (Purchase Required)

Visuals:
This isn’t a bad-looking game, certainly not for the price. It does a decent job of creating the abysmal environments that you are desperately trying to escape. While I personally found the fish-head antagonist to look a little silly, it takes on a slightly different intimidation level when confronted. Not quite the Pyramid Head level, but we all can’t be mannequin-molesting psychopaths.

Audio:
Is it bad that the voice acting made me nostalgic for the original PlayStation version of Resident Evil? I’m not quite sure if it’s a good thing to be reminded of that, because nostalgia aside, it makes for some pretty cringe-worthy voice acting. Fortunately, you will be playing this for the puzzles and not so much the story. I wasn’t, anyway.

… this is strictly a puzzle game, and an “escape” one at that …
Audio effects themselves are pretty sporadic, with certain sound levels not mixing well with others. The effects themselves aren’t bad, rather the volume assigned to each effect. Most people won’t care, but it became glaringly obvious in VR, when I donned the headphones.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
My initial reaction when watching the trailer for Dying: Reborn was excitement at another potentially terrifying horror game so soon after my heart recovered from Resident Evil 7. I never expected a Triple-A title from a smaller developer and a relatively budget price, as long as you don’t factor in having to purchase two copies in order to play in VR and experience the full story on PS4.

But, again, it’s important to mention that this is strictly a puzzle game, and an “escape” one at that. As such, some of the technical issues, and the fact that it was never explained that the VR version would be limited to a few “stages” from the game proper, give me reason to reluctantly give it a lower score. Unless you absolutely crave this kind of game, you will likely be disappointed.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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