Developer: TianShe Media
Publisher: Oasis Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (PS VR)
With the release of the Playstation VR many people are excited to get their “scare” on with the release of game titles in the Horror genre. Unfortunately, you will have to pass on Weeping Doll if you truly want an enjoyable scary experience.
Spiritual Content: The notion of an object being possessed by an evil spirit can be uncomfortable.
Violence: There is implied murder in the main story line of the game. There is also emotional abuse of a child though nothing seen.
Language/Crude Humor: No language/crude humor
Sexual Themes: No sexual content
Positive Themes: Weeping Doll does speak to the reality of emotional abuse to children and the effect it can have on them.
Needed Gear: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset, PS Camera, PS4 Controller
I was very excited for the opportunity to play Weeping Doll as my first experience of a full (ish) game on the PlayStation VR. As a sucker for horror games—especially of the Japanese nature—I had relatively high expectations.
In the game you play as a handmaid working for a Japanese family that has disappeared. Your main goal is to explore the home you are charged with keeping, going from room to room, solving puzzles, and looking for clues to their disappearance. Each room in the home reveals information about what has happened with the little girls who lived there. Players will have to search all corners of home to uncover the hidden secrets while collecting various keys to unlock other areas.
What was intended to be a terrifying and ominous experience fell flat as a tedious and grueling one. There is little to no investment for the player to explore anything. You are simply thrust into the story without any type of backstory. There is no explanation for where any of the homeowners are, nor is there any real reason to care about the status of the children. If the developer had possibly given even a short cutscene to catch the player up to the reason they were alone in this home, it may have been enough to keep me motivated.
The problem with the fright factor is that there is none. There is no danger to your exploring, no impending doom lurking behind corners and inside cabinets. With the exception of an occasional ghostly appearance of a young girl boding you in her direction, there really isn’t anything scary about the game at all. In fact, once you get past the first “jump scare,” you don’t even feel concerned for your own safety. What most successful horror games do is keep the player concerned that around every corner, there is the possibility of terror. You worry that if you keep your eyes open for too long, you are bound to see something startling or terrifying, yet it never delivers. Sure the game is replete with creepy dolls and ambient noises, but that is the extent of the fear, and having multiple dolls that look identical doesn’t cut it for today’s tolerance of fearful imagery.
The first thing I noticed about the game was that the control scheme is frustrating. You have two options in moving around the map: free roam moving and place to place via a silhouette. I was completely unaware that I could change the control scheme until I had already played through it to completion. A tutorial would have been nice. Considering there isn’t a tutorial, it was difficult to figure out what needed to be done in each of the rooms. There were even some items I collected that literally had no known use in the progress of the game. By the end of my play time I had 2 objects that I had found that didn’t do anything, yet were still held in my inventory.
The graphics are sufficient, but I expect more from the Unreal 4 engine. Faces are ill-defined and if they were clearer, they could add to the realism of the experience. The environments feel very static, much like the backdrop to the original Resident Evil game. It is clear what objects were able to be manipulated and which ones are just a part of the environment.
The story itself is incredibly short and it ended abruptly. In fact, I wasn’t sure that the game was over until I relented and turned it off. The only way I know it was done was that I walked through the entire house a second time and nothing was new.
The story of Weeping Doll may be a Japanese superstition that they tell each other around a campfire to cause the “willies” but the scariest part of the game itself is the confusion in its purpose. The game falls flat on many levels and is not one I would recommend for a new VR experience.
Review product provided by Oasis Games
The Bottom Line
Weeping Doll gives the impression of being a fear-inducing experience for the PSVR but falls short in several areas.