I am not a horror game person and by that I mean I get scared when playing these games, I will jump at every chance and my heart rate is through the roof so not my most enjoyable genre. So why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to review Paper Dolls for the PSVR when it was offered to me?
It appears a car crash seems to be the go to for starting a horror game. In Paper Dolls case a father driving his daughter to her mothers’ house goes wrong and ends with a car crash. You awake in a deserted ancient Chinese home with your daughter nowhere to be seen and no idea why you are here. The game unfolds as you make your way through this house trying to locate your daughter. Instantly the horror vibe hits you as the music and sounds remind me of that horrible noise you get from the girl in The Grudge film giving a real ominous feel. Plus there is also a dead person in front of you.
The second block of which all horror games seem to be built on is a terrible torch that forces you to look at everything closely. Yes you pick up a torch which you direct with your head if using a standard dual shock but unless you are directly in front of what you want to see the torch is useless. Unfortunately, as you will be able to tell from the screenshots this is a very dark game and not in a scary way but in an awkward gameplay sort of way which really makes it a struggle to play through at times.
In terms of gameplay you found yourself in a puzzle solving cycle to collect keys that unlock padlocks which allow you to move round this house. The puzzles are enjoyable and you need to pay attention to what is around you to work out what the actual puzzle is before trying to solve it. This works well as it will force you to open those doors you don’t want to and explore every part of each room. The puzzles vary from picking up on clues that suggest you should rebuild a gramophone that unlocks a draw to working out the right sequence of doors to go through. All in all I did enjoy the puzzles as they were challenging but achievable with a bit of patience.
The added pressure when completing these puzzles is the music and sounds that add to the already immersive environment the VR headset creates. You are always second guessing if something is going to jump out at you or are you going to fall through the floor and this continues throughout the game. However, that may be as far as the scare factor of this game goes. Most of the jump scares are achieved from bits of the ceiling falling down at random times as you walk around. My first encounter with a family ghost resulted in my death but only because I couldn’t turn around quick enough to either get away or be scared by actually seeing the ghost.
Once you accept the darkness and the music that keeps you on the edge most of the way through the game you start to notice that there are a number of flaws with Paper Dolls. Firstly, the way you move in this game is what I would call painful. Tapping L2 & R2 one after another has your character taking steps forward which seems odd when there are so many other better ways to move in VR. Turning is done by double tapping either of the trigger buttons which will turn you slightly and holding them together turns you 180. This means you can’t walk backwards and need to do a complete turn, take a few steps and turn back around if you found yourself too close to something.
Next up we have the floating boxes that are your inventory throughout the game. It is too close to you when you open it up, it is just not as easy as it should be. I had to play the whole game with a dual shock as you cannot switch over to move controllers after you have started the game, if you do then you are starting from the beginning. Pair this with below average graphics that would every now and then look like someone was shining a torch into my headset and the beyond necessary darkness and it makes for what is sometimes a tough play.
The puzzles are good and I enjoyed finding my way around the house as you uncover new secrets and come under attack from a number of ghosts including Nanny Chen. However, with the controls being set up the way they are and the poor graphics hitting you throughout the game I don’t think I could fully recommend this game to someone looking for a PSVR horror.
As horror games go on the VR this is not going to hold up well against some of the bigger hitters out there. This game lacks the polish you want from games nowadays and despite the setting of an empty dark haunted house the horror factor of this game feels poorly done with falling ceiling tiles offering the best jump scares this game has to offer.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*