Xing: The Land Beyond
I expect more from some games than even the developers do. I wanted “Tetris Effect” to leave me in a tantric coma. I wanted “Mind Labyrinth VR” to teach me the meaning of life. I wanted “Knockout League” to turn my muffin top into a muffin… the bottom part of a muffin that isn’t round. All these things were impossible. But still I have these dreams.
Developer/Publisher: White Lotus Interactive
Genre: Adventure / Puzzle
Game Length: ~8 Hours
PlayPSVR Score: 8.5
“Xing: The Land Beyond” is one of those dreams. Upon starting the game, I was informed that I had already died and was now in the afterlife, making Xing possibly the most difficult game I have ever played. However, not all was lost. After walking through the gates of a lush, floating rock island, I was greeted by a rock-guardian of the afterlife who informed me that I needed to track down the remaining souls and learn their story so that they might also be able to pass into the Land Beyond, probably to hang out with us in his hot tub. Cue “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo.
What followed was a serene, methodical adventure sprinkled with puzzles that strike a balance between clever and frustrating. As I walked through the beautiful and abandoned ruins of Xing, a feeling of comfort came over me. Each level presents the story of the lost soul, told in stanzas of poetry, broken up into different tablets. With well-acted voice-overs, and carefully metered story beats, I found myself invested in the stories that led to the death of each person. And although the puzzles provided a method for me to occupy my hands, it provided a mental gap for my mind to spend time marinating on the poem and the human condition. How should one deal with true loneliness? How does one survive a deep loss? “Xing,” in telling these characters’ stories, at least attempts to point in the direction of an answer, even if the resolution isn’t always entirely satisfying. Part of the wisdom is gained in the journey itself.
I rarely, if ever, found myself questioning my next step, and although some puzzles feel confusing at first encounter, continued local exploration always led to the solutions almost casually falling into place. With glowing hint orbs scattered around the levels, even the most confused dead men will find enough hints to keep things moving along at a steady pace. And with several interactive items scattered across the levels, the exploration and pace is always accompanied by something to do or play with, like a fruit to collect, or seashells to hold up to your ear.
If you’re already feeling bored by the premise of Xing, then you might be missing its point, which is to be expected. Eschewing action entirely, Xing presents its challenge uniquely. There’s no fear of death when you’re already dead, and there’s no tension present in a situation wherein failure isn’t possible. But Xing purports to provide the opposite of tension. And it aims to overcome the fear of death by using virtual reality to face the realities that come with it.
PlayPSVR Score: 8.5 out of 10