Dying: Reborn is marketed as "A dark, horror-themed puzzle game that creates a unique first-person room escape experience". This is…mostly true? Dying: Reborn plays like those phone app escape games. You know those games that last either five minutes and make you pay for more content, or are twenty minutes long but cost ten bucks? Yeah, it's like those. First thing I want to specify is that this is the non-VR version of the game, because apparently the developers removed half the content in the VR version.
Dying:Reborn gives you control of some amnesiac man who wakes up with a pounding headache and one of the worst voice acting jobs I've seen since Arc Rise Fantasia. I'll tell you right now, if you're looking for some form of coherent story, you won't find it here. Nothing is really resolved at the end, and you don't even know who half the characters are. While the puzzles can be interesting and well thought out, half of them can be solved with trial and error if you really can't figure them out, and some of them are less puzzles and more tests of awkward thinking, or not overthinking. The game progresses on a room to room basis, but you don't necessarily need to solve all the puzzles to finish a room. Apparently I finished the first room by only solving half the puzzles, and didn't even find out until I got my dad to play while I was writing this, because I needed someone who wasn't used to this style of game. To quote him, "the game feels kind of crunky". You can collect backstory pieces, if you can call them that, by collecting pictures and newspaper clippings throughout the game.
There are a bunch of puzzles that feel they were hastily redone, or aspects that were going to be puzzles, but were promptly forgotten about and never actually used. There are also a lot of logically unsound decisions the character makes, such as dropping an item the moment it has fulfilled its apparent usefulness. I don't know about you, but if I found an old umbrella, I might keep it as a potential weapon. Just saying. You also can't crouch, which is a little infuriating when you have to pick something up off the ground, but can't be arsed to actually bend over and pick it up, instead opting to find something to bring it closer to you with. Like the aforementioned umbrella.
If you're wondering how the story is written, well, if "Men cannot use" or "beware electricity in the bathroom", it becomes fairly obvious that English was not the first language. The music is kinda atmospheric, but the sound effects were pretty much taken from the first stock sound folder you can find. Most notably is the "jarring piano sound", which is so overused that I was actually at a loss for words. Literally every menu selection uses the sound effect. The shutters opening sounded like a nuclear silo base alarm as well.
The game is also super finicky, as sometimes I would examine something and nothing would happen, or the little red icon indicating you can examine something wouldn't appear. This was most noticed in the second room, with the door to the office not opening when I had the key, and the electrical box were especially bad. Two of the biggest issues I had with the gameplay mechanics had to be the inventory system. The game forces you to equip an item to be able to use it, and after examining something once, the item is unequipped. Incredibly infuriating when you examine something close to something else and all you get is "no effect", so you think it doesn't work, but you were actually examining something else.
Despite being "horror-themed", I was honestly laughing way more than anything during the game. The fish-head villain isn't particularly scary, just kinda dumb looking, the characters and their motivations are either shallow or unexplained, the interface was occasionally extremely aggravating, and some of the puzzles can be extremely unintuitive, given a certain mindset. Honestly, I've seen better "escape" style games for free on my phone, and even the paid ones are better and cheaper. I really can't recommend this game unless you're in dire need of an escape game that isn't for your phone.
Sony PlayStation 4
Sony PlayStation Vita
PlayStation VR capable
Purchased or Provided by Publisher
Article by Richard