Paper Dolls

Embark on one of the more graphically impressive and frightening games on the PSVR by becoming trapped in an abandoned and haunted house with only your wits to survive.  Beijing Litchi Culture Media Co.'s game, Paper Dolls, utilizes puzzle elements in its spooky game play as well a lengthy single player campaign that will leave you on the edge of your seat for the duration of this 15 hour game.  If you can overlook some rather obvious faults, then Paper Dolls is well worth the cost of admission and will thrill right up to the closing credits.  

QUICK NOTES
Genre: Horror/Puzzle
Controller: Dual Shock or Moves
Game Length: 15 hours (according to developers)
Price: $16.99
PlayPSVR Score: 4

It's the Halloween season and after playing RE7, Home Sweet Home and other similar titles, Paper Dolls was another game destined for the holiday's greatness.  Unfortunately, I have to report otherwise.  Before I really dive into the only fatal flaw of the game, I want to admire what the game does well and why, with a little patch or update, the game could be really really good. 

You begin by finding yourself in an abandoned house, dark, forlorn and eerie.  There is no introduction, no instructions and no hand holding.  You are clueless on what to do and all you know is that it's so dark you can't see 5 feet in front of you and there is a headless corpse beside you.  Good stuff.  With no detail on what to do or accomplish you walk around the house assuming you need to find items that work together to advance.  Eventually you find keys, items, books, etc.  

The darkness is unsettling and the farther you get into the game the more scary the environments are.  I am really glad the developers didn't put too many jump scares into the game because they certainly could have and it would have been horrifying.  Literally every nook and cranny they could have had a corpse falling out, things falling, ghosts jumping out at you, etc.  I think using these jump scares are important to keeping you on your toes, but have to be managed carefully, and Paper Dolls exceeded in this regard.  

It was a very unexpected surprise when the graphics looked as good as they did.  Everything had large amounts of detail, the darkness caused mass amounts of uncertainty and unsettledness and it really helped bring the game to life.  At times you could definitely tell RE7 was a video game (due to lackluster graphics) and you could see the resolution wasn't up to the task of representing the grand expectations of the developers.  But Paper Dolls took it all in stride and looks more realistic than RE7 even.  Granted, the entire game is pretty much shrouded in darkness, but regardless it looks amazing and is something that should be implored.  

The puzzles at times are a bit broken or confusing but push the player to really investigate the house and pay attention to every drawer, shelf, item and room.  For the most part the puzzles are very much a hide and seek game in which you have to meander around the house looking for the right items.  However, there were a couple times in which the puzzles just didn't work, were way too confusing and I think just glitched, causing me to advance even though I had no idea what I was doing correctly.  Even one redditor had a similar experience about a mirror puzzle that neither of us could get to work and all the sudden just boom. A mirror shattered and I was able to proceed although I had done nothing different than I ever had.  Its confusing and at times infuriating. 

Now this is where the crap hits the fan.  The controls.  Would you believe me if I told you that the controls were so bad that I couldn't enjoy the atmosphere, the horror, the puzzles or the game for a single second?  Well believe it.  The controls are the scariest thing in this game. To move forward you have to alternate the R2 an L2 buttons.  Yeah.  No analog stick, no just hold down R2.  You have to click R2 and L2 repeatedly to move forward.  Well you may say, "Adam, just use the move controllers you dolt".  NOPE! Its the same controls! The most butchered controls I have ever seen and clearly the worst of the PSVR.  The analog sticks aren't used whatsoever.  You can't even turn unless you move your body to look in the direction you want to move.  There is no snap turning or smooth turning.  You have to be the perfect distance away from a cupboard, shelf or door to open it and with the way the controls work this isn't easy and if you mess up its a big mess trying to go backward to try again.  

I don't know how to express how bad these are without you trying them.  It ruined the entire game for me.  I couldn't be scared because I was complaining about the controls the entire time.  There are not a lick of written instructions in the game either.  To save you have to light a match, light a candle then light an incense stick with that flame then put it in a little holder.  But it doesn't tell you that.  It shows you these little white animated dual shock controllers doing the actions in very little detail and it moves too fast.  So you are clueless on what to do.  JUST WRITE IT DOWN IN INSTRUCTIONS LIKE EVERY OTHER GAME IN EXISTENCE!!! I can't recommend this game to anyone until this gets fixed. 

The good thing is that it can be fixed. Some games are bad because the concept is poor. But this is an execution issue. Want more bad news? I contacted Winking Entertainment about a potential update and there doesn’t seem to be one on the horizon. A brutal hit to a game that has so much potential.

I feel bad about dismissing a game solely because of controls, but I mean these are so so bad. I understand and somewhat want to give them praise for trying something new. Altering the norm. Doing something different. I’m all for that, that is how we as a society grow and progress forward. But did no one test this? Obviously not because it is simply bad all around.

The last thing I will mention is that I was impressed with how long the game was for a 17 dollar game. It isn’t one to put a first time PSVR player in but for the thrill seeker, this game could be right up your alley.

Paper Dolls possesses so much potential that is ruined by horrid controls and tedious puzzles. The atmosphere is fantastic, the graphics are amazing and the spookiness of the game are similar to the most well know PSVR horror games. I just hate that this game will not get the love due to two fatal flaws. And it shouldn’t get that love. The first rule of any game is make it fun to play. And with controls like this, you’d rather actually in real life be the one in the house.

PlayPSVR Score: 4/10