To simply cut to the chase: Dying: Reborn isn’t very good. From its mixture of frankly inane and disinteresting puzzles to its schlocky, B-Movie script and narrative, it often has very little going for it. An “escape room”, first-person puzzler masquerading as a horror title, the game repeatedly fails at being neither an enjoyable or remotely terrifying experience. Though the game’s concept teeters on the very edge of something interesting, the rest of the game struggles to engage the player, and it unfortunately has little else to offer than sheer frustration and boredom.
Caught up within a series of six puzzling chapters that have you exploring every inch of the environment and using items at your disposal, Dying: Reborn really tries its best to create clever scenarios through equally intelligent puzzles, but ultimately it falls short of this goal. Instead of being met with well-crafted and genuinely challenging puzzles, you are instead greeted by mundane, poorly explained ones that regularly struggle to steer the player towards the right solution. A puzzle game would hardly be any fun if it gave its answers away without a fight, but the solutions you’re supposed to find here can be downright obscure.
I’d love to be able to state that sheer logic alone got me through from start to finish, but this unfortunately wasn’t the case. Guess work soon became my primary tactic whenever I found myself stuck for a solution, blindly answering riddles with or without any sound logic and using items on whatever I could find in a desperate bid to move forward. Not all puzzles are like this, however, and the game has its fair share of hurdles that can be overcome with relative ease. There were even a handful of moments where I found myself somewhat impressed by the challenges on offer, though this was likely because everything else felt dull by comparison. In these instances, Dying: Reborn still isn’t an effective puzzler, but it’s certainly not an offensive one, either, and you can almost find yourself enjoying the game when you hit moments of flow and the dots begin to connect. That said, for every moment that fuels the desire to continue playing, there’s plenty more moments of hindrance that make you question why you’re even bothering.
Looking back at my time with the game, I’m only ever reminded of the moments (of which there were several) where I was left baffled and frustrated. Communication is a huge issue, and far too often would I be forced to revisit the game after a substantial break away as I couldn’t bear to spend a second longer fumbling around not knowing how to progress. Clues can be too cryptic, item uses can sometimes feel vague, and thanks to an ineffective UI and lacking player guidance, key items and areas of interest can be easily missed, leading to further frustration and impeded progress.
Honestly speaking, there’s very little that encourages you to persist with the game until the very end. While each chapter puts the player in a different area to explore, you start noticing that the game relies heavily on presenting similar challenges. Though entire puzzles are never rehashed, the game enjoys challenging players to solve number sequences and combination locks, for example, tasking players to unlock doors, briefcases, lockers and safes. This feeling of familiarity gets in the way of the experience, making each challenge feel somewhat repetitive, and undermining those few puzzles that try something different. As a whole, however, the puzzles aren’t anything to get excited about anyway, and will fail to hold your attention for too long. Even the game’s central narrative, an aspect the game takes very seriously, fails to offer any further encouragement as it quickly (and unintentionally) descends into comedy territory.
Clearly inspired by the likes of the SAW franchise, you play as Mathew, a man who, in the process of searching for his missing sister, Shirley, is kidnapped and awakened in an abandoned hotel. Tormented by his maniacal and mysterious captor, he is then faced with completing the series of puzzling tests in order to escape and find some answers. The premise is hardly original and, for all its efforts, doesn’t amount to anything of interest. Lacking the genuine scares, edge-of-your-seat tension, and production values that you’d typically expect of a horror, the narrative as a whole comes off much worse and totally misses its potential because of it. Making it even harder to maintain curiosity past the opening chapters, you also soon find that the villain is nothing more than a nonsense-spewing, obnoxious cliché.
With an incredibly weak script, unconvincing voice-acting that has to be some of worst (and most hilarious) I’ve heard in recent memory, and a story that thinks it’s smarter than it actually is – the central narrative is hard to follow and take seriously. Leaving more questions than answers, the story does a very poor job of explaining itself and, as a result, the big twist at the end fails to evoke a single other response than pure confusion. Persevering with this game results in a pay-off that’s far from worthwhile and, after several playthroughs, I still couldn’t explain it. If I wasn’t already feeling totally underwhelmed by the whole experience, I certainly was once the credits rolled.
To reiterate once again: Dying: Reborn isn’t a very good video game. With little merit to its name outside a handful of more unique puzzles and borderline competence in its creation, it’s difficult to maintain the right level of patience that’ll get you through to the end. At its best the game is boring, and at its worst it’s nothing short of tedious. This is a very mediocre game, and every aspect of this production mirrors this quality perfectly. It’s clear that genuine effort has been made by the developers to create this title, but sadly this effort just isn’t enough, and while some players may have an easier time than I did with the more complex puzzle offerings, it’s hard to escape the fact that there’s still little reason to care for this game.
Dying: Reborn was review on Playstation 4