Dying: Reborn review for PS4, PS Vita

Platform: PS4
Also On: PS Vita
Publisher: Oasis Games
Developer: Oasis Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

According to Metacritic, Dying: Reborn is the worst PS4 game of the year. This is probably overstating the game’s awfulness.

After all, many of those other reviews are judging the game based on its PSVR version, which apparently was less a full game, and more a disjointed tech demo. Luckily, for the non-VR version Dying: Reborn’s creators sought to remedy that flaw by giving the game a proper story. Admittedly, it’s a story that, near as I can tell, borrows heavily from the Saw franchise — the first trophy is called “I Want to Play a Game with You,” which sounds like “Let’s play a game” run through Google Translate — but it’s a story nonetheless.

With a plot in place, it’s a lot easier to see what Oasis Games were going for: an escape room-based adventure game. You start off in one room, find a bunch of items, solve a series of puzzles, and then move on to the next room. Repeat that a few times, and you’ve got yourself a game. Not a very long game, not a very original game, but a coherent game nonetheless.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the execution still leaves something to be desired. For starters, Dying: Reborn’s story is told partly via extremely bad voice acting, and partly via text that, like the aforementioned first trophy, sounds like it was run through Google Translate a few times. The former is, as you’d imagine, extremely grating, while the latter lessens its intended impact by forcing you to piece together exactly what the creators meant to say. Combine the two, and you’re left with an adventure game in which the adventure isn’t very compelling.

Likewise, as you’re unraveling the game’s mystery by uncovering clues and solving puzzles, you’re moving at a snail’s pace. Given that all you do in this game is walk slowly from one place to another, solving pretty easy puzzles, you can see how this quickly becomes annoying.

But credit where credit is due: even if the voice acting sucks, even if the puzzles are blatantly obvious, I think there’s a massive gulf between bad and unspeakably terrible. In fact, for the simple reason the game is completely playable, you could possibly even argue that Dying: Reborn (non-PSVR) edition is profoundly mediocre. That’s not enough to make it worth checking out by any means, but it also means that the game doesn’t really deserve the title of “Worst Game of 2017” quite yet.

Grade: C-