If there’s one thing people have a love/hate relationship with in virtual reality, it’s horror. The horror genre has long been full of titles that creep people out or make them jump in their seats. Thanks to virtual reality, those sensations of terror are becoming all the more intense. After all, there’s no easy method to look away once you’re actively immersed within a headset. Surprisingly, there aren’t many horror releases to speak of on PSVR so far aside from Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. While an interesting romp in and of itself, it could hardly be considered a traditional horror game. Now there’s a new horror release on PSVR which goes by the name of Weeping Doll. Currently exclusive to the platform, few have yet to actually brave the game for themselves.
Some may be concerned that virtual reality horror is too scary to even try. Well, those people will be in luck because Weeping Doll is not scary in the slightest. There are no jump scares or sudden loud noises as are common in modern horror media. There is also absolutely no danger of death or failure. Instead, it feels a bit like traveling through Resident Evil’s mansion without any sense of tension about what could be lurking in the darkness. The only thing that might disturb some is if they’re particularly frightened by dolls. In that case, seeing nude dolls perched on dressers or beds might spark a general sense of unease.
There’s a lot in common between Weeping Doll and what some may consider “walking simulators.” Players are not only expected but rewarded (via Trophies) to look at various objects to learn tidbits of backstory. Of course, there’s more to the game than simply looking around. Solving puzzles is key to unlocking new areas and getting closer to solving the mystery. So, what is that mystery? Well, the setup of Weeping Doll is that you’re the maid for a family with two daughters. One daughter has a birthmark on her face and for whatever reason this is reason enough to keep her locked up with only a doll for company. While this might sound like a story from centuries ago, there are cell phones and TV sets in this home, proving that it is meant as a semi-modern tale.
A few of the puzzles are annoying in the sense that you simply need to be sure that no interactable object is ignored when scanning a room. It’s easy to miss stuff because of the control scheme. To move you must warp around rooms and turn at fixed angles using the DualShock 4. Interacting with objects is where things get a little tricky. In order to do so, you must look directly at the object in question and then press the interact button. Being nearby is not enough, and will often leave objects appearing as though they are non-interactive when in fact they actually are. It’s thanks to this that I spent too many minutes coming up with far more complex solutions to a puzzle than was actually required.
The simple fact that Weeping Doll is not scary is enough of a failing point for this supposed horror title. One thing that is not up for debate, however, is the incredibly short length. My initial playthrough (with lots of fumbling over missed interactive objects) took exactly an hour. With the knowledge of what to do, however, it’s just over ten minutes long. Players a bit more thorough than myself could probably complete their first playthrough in half an hour. Then there’s the ending which might as well not even exist. Yes, you do get an explanation for what’s going on, but that’s all. It’s not even obvious that the game is over until you uncover a room with photos of the development team to serve as credits.
Weeping Doll is the kind of game that looks like it’ll be a scary, enjoyable romp. The visuals make this home come to life in virtual reality, but that’s about the only positive note about the whole experience. Instead of providing a frightening journey, players are greeted with mind-numbing puzzles which only serve to block progression when a player forgets to check certain items. After working through a few frustrating moments, there’s a sudden conclusion to the story and nothing else. This game seems practically like a demo rather than a product available for purchase on the PS Store. Horror-curious PSVR owners will unfortunately need to keep waiting for their next dose of terror.