I feel like I’m cursed to forever review games with tortuous titles. DYING on its own, would be a fine enough title, pretty run of the mill, but fine. However its the reborn aspect that I take issue to, because there is nothing to do with rebirth in the games incoherent narrative. It may have been in some kind of reference to a re-releasing of another game called DYING, but there is no prior title to have been Reborn. The VR suffix stapled on I can stomach, but the only logical reason for calling this thing DYING: Reborn VR is because they wanted the acronym “Dr. VR”, which, admittedly, is a noble goal.
This Horror theme room escape game come to us from Oasis games, a development studio made up of a wide array of continental European staff. Which explains why this games script reads like some lazily translated PS2 era game. Now the story set up itself, is very much okay. You play as a man who wakes up trapped in a trapped house filled with esoteric puzzles, very reminiscent of SAW 3. The first room, you fund yourself in sets the scene very well, right up until the first character starts talking and you hear that familiar sound of Europeans affecting an America accent (think David Cage games). From then on out the game is nothing but a series of Hilariously poorly acted characters, waxing poetic about how grim their circumstances are over the radio to one another. I don’t want to be too harsh on this game from a technical standpoint, as they were clearly working from a budget, but the actual recordings are just awful. The compression is ridiculous, and sounds often cut off way to early. The story is all set up and no pay off (not that I’m particularly optimistic that there would be any satisfying pay off), which actually makes sense knowing what I know now. DYING: Reborn VR is a selection of random levels from another games called DYING: Reborn, which is a non VR game, yet to be released. So effectively, your paying half the price of the full game for a Virtual Reality demo. That’s a hard sell for any game, but this one is especially bad because you can already download an excellent horror demo for VR, for free called Resident Evil 7!
To the games credit, it runs very well. DYING: Reborn VR was built in unity, and while there is nothing particularly impressive about the texture work, animations or effects, the performance is rock solid. Which of course it needs to be in VR, but I did want to give credit where its due, the team obviously knew what they were doing when they were building the game. However there are a lot of graphical hiccups throughout. One example that really annoyed me, was the way semi-transparent textures wouldn’t load correctly until you got within a ridiculously close range. There are also a lot of floating textures and models in this world, which are either the product of poor placement by the devs or they’re haunted…. and this is a horror game. Or at least it claims to be a Horror game, because the attempts to make any kind of tension are laughable at best. But is that surprising considering the graphical and audio shortcomings I already described. I will concede that the Fish Head guy is pretty fun though.
The only thing the game has to fall back on now is the puzzles, and thankfully, these are pretty good. Not great mind you, this isn’t Silent Hill 3 on Hard, but its also not Silent Hill: Shattered Memories if you catch my meaning. They hit a nice sweet spot that tests your mental capacity gentle, but thoroughly. I was impressed by one puzzle in the early game that asks you to play a series of notes on a piano. On its own, there is no challenge to this, but what elevates this is that fact that the game expects you to recognise the tune as you hit the keys and then play it back with the correct melody. There isn’t really much to say apart from that, other than the puzzles are just fine… they just don’t justify the purchase of this game over the other issues.
Its a bit of a shame that the bar for VR has already been raise so high by games like Resident Evil 7 and I Expect You To Die, but the fact is that the bar has been raised. DYING: Reborn VR does not match up to that bar and it is very hard to recommend as a result. The only reason I would say to buy this game is if you’re really desperate for some decent puzzles, other wise, skip this one.