Weeping Doll PSVR Review: A Horror Game That’s Afraid to be Scary

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Posted October 30, 2016 by Adeem Khan in Video Games

Developed By: TianShe Media

Published By: Oasis Games

Platforms: PSVR

Release Date: October 27th, 2016

The Playstation VR launched in October, a month well known for beer festivals and scary activities. While a game about drinking beer and eating sausage would not be the best fit for a virtual reality experience, horror on the other end is perfect. Game developers clearly know this with horror demos like Kitchen and games like Here They Lie launching with the headset. Weeping Doll missed launch date but has arrived just in time for Halloween. But is the $10 game worth a play through, or should you stick to more beer and sausages?

Weeping Doll is set in a traditional Japanese house, where you work as the household maid. A distressing phone call from the lady of the house sends you scurrying over and spending the next hour or so solving the mystery of what happened. The game has the beginning of what could be a great haunted house experience, but sadly forgets about the haunted part.

A view half of us aren't used to.

A view half of us aren’t used to.

I should start by saying I find Asian horror to be particularly terrifying–probably because of all the Rings and Grudges I was forced to watch as a kid–so this game was right up my alley. It’s really not that difficult to scare me. But Weeping Doll actively takes steps to make sure that I’m never scared. From the hour or so of playing, I was never scared at any moment. At times it felt more like a children’s puzzle game instead of a horror title.

Let’s start by how every single light in this house is turned on and every fireplace is burning. The house is lit up like a Christmas tree. Making the scary house dark is like horror 101. All the bright lights just ruin the atmosphere of the game. Next is the soundtrack; it remains the same tone throughout most of the game. Moments that should be scary are turned mundane as the same music in the background continues to play and the tension is never heightened. There are no creaks and mysterious sounds, no turning around because you thought you heard something. Going around the house feels less like a scary ride and more like a open house tour.

The real horror starts when you get the electricity bill

The real horror starts when you get the electricity bill

 

There’s some slightly creepy imagery placed around the house, like the dolls and a demon mask. That’s about as far as the game dares to go in creating a creepy atmosphere. Would it really be too much to ask to have the dolls change positions as you look away, or you know just do something creepy? If creepy dolls/mannequins are your thing the RE7 Beginning Hour demo manages to handle it far better. Which is surprising considering this game is called “Weeping Doll”.

When I said I was never scared while playing this game, I might have lied a bit. There was a moment I was scared and it had to do with the gameplay. Traditional movement in VR can be sickening, so Weeping Doll uses another style that’s might look weird but works quite well. Basically, the left analog stick (or the D-Pad) creates a transparent version of your character which you can move around and then teleport to that location. It was weird when I first starting using it, but I ended up liking the movement style. I was surprised how well it worked. I never got sick throughout the game, while Here They Lie, which has a traditional movement scheme, got me feeling a little woozy in it’s demo. Anyway, it’s easy to press the D-Pad or the analog stick and forgetting that you did, then when turning your head you’re surprised with a ghostly version of you standing behind you. To get scared in this game I basically had to trick myself into scaring myself.

Ahhh! Oh wait, it's just my soul.

Ahhh! Oh wait, it’s just my soul.

 

The other part of gameplay relies on solving some very simple puzzles. The R2 and L2 button can be used to grab things in your right and left arm respectively, then placing, combining, and interacting with items makes up the games puzzles. As simple as they were, I did find them fun and wish that there were more of them.

The most frustrating part of the game was while solving once of these puzzles. Weeping Doll has a bug that crashes the game and drops you to the PS4 UI every time you attempt to solve it. I was able to figure out a way to solve the puzzle and avoid the crash, but I bet most would give up at that point. It took dozens of crashes before I figured out a way to avoid them. The bug seems to be related to using the reset to checkpoint button, so until the game is updated I would avoid using it. There’s no need to use the button anyway, and I was just testing out what it does.

The story of the game is interesting, but like most horrors the ending is left intentionally ambiguous. In fact, it doesn’t really end. I had to go to the trophy list to check and make sure I finished the game. Although the way credits are handled is pretty cool, and I wouldn’t really put the weird ending against them as it’s one of the only new and interesting things Weeping Doll does.

One of the weirdest things about the story is the voice acting. It’s mostly acceptable considering the game is by non-English indie devs, but there’s one particular scene which has some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard. It’s so bad that it’s hilarious and then sad and then just plain bad again. To avoid spoilers I can’t say much more about it, but you’ll know it when you hear it.

Weeping Doll is a disappointing entry into the VR horror genre, but I’m still really excited to see what the devs work on next. They have a good framework and engine, it just seems their intentions are wrongly placed. I can see why they wanted to avoid making the game too scary, but I hope they learn their lesson and don’t hold back on their next title. Don’t be afraid to make your horror game scary or make the puzzle gameplay more difficult. It also wouldn’t hurt to work on the voice acting.

Bet you thought i was kidding when i said lit up like a Christmas tree. At least Stranger Things made it scary.

Bet you thought i was exaggerating when i said lit up like a Christmas tree. At least Stranger Things made it scary.


About the Author

Adeem Khan