At what point do we consider Until Dawn a curse? UK developer Supermassive has been trying to better the PS4 narrative horror for the best part of a decade, with both its ongoing The Dark Pictures anthology and standalone The Quarry coming up short. Now, based on the first half of our playthrough, we’re sad to report that the spiritual successor to PSVR’s Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, rails shooter The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR, is also shaping up to be a bit of a PSVR2 dud.
It’s important to remember that when it first released, Rush of Blood was widely considered one of the best virtual reality games you could buy. A literal rollercoaster ride, the interactive house of horrors took you on a tour of several creepy locales, and armed you with a weapon in each hand. The premise remains very much the same here, although this time the environments repurpose assets from the likes of Man of Medan and Little Hope.
First up, the good stuff: the guns handle great, owing to pin-point tracking of the PSVR2 Sense Controllers and outstanding implementation of haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers. The team has incorporated just enough tension into the triggers to make it feel like you’re wielding a real weapon, without dialling up the resistance to a ridiculous degree like so many other third-party developers do. You can hit pretty much any target with immense precision, which is important, as shooting down marked objects will maximise your score.
The game also puts the PSVR2’s HDR panel to good use, resulting in some extremely dark environments that will leave you squinting into the distance. This obviously helps add to the atmosphere, although you’ll see the jump scares coming a mile away – perhaps we’re just too familiar with Supermassive’s tricks at this stage.
The problems, then? Well, there are a lot more enemy encounters in Switchback VR than Rush of Blood, and they’re not very good. Most foes will soak up your bullets without even flinching, including some unintentionally comical undead dogs which have some of the worst leaping attack animations we’ve seen in quite some time. For a game that’s relying so heavily on immersing you into its world, stuff like this really pulls you out.
It’s the lack of feedback that’s the killer, though. House of the Dead, a game that’s decades old these days, feels so great because each bullet inflicts obvious damage: body parts rip off, corpses stumble, and heads pop. You do get some satisfying splurges of blood as craniums collapse here, but only after you’ve unloaded an entire clip into an otherwise unaffected enemy. It gets worse during boss fights, where you’re firing what feels like hundreds of bullets without the game ever really communicating that you’re doing any damage at all.
It also doesn’t look particularly good. As we mentioned previously, the game definitely gets dark which heightens the sense of tension, but generally it all appears a bit muddy – and not in a good way either. There’s a real lack of colour across the board, and some of the special effects – like fire – just don’t stand up to scrutiny. It’s not appalling visually, but it also doesn’t come close to Horizon Call of the Mountain or Resident Evil Village – in fact, it’s a million miles off.
We should stress, however, that we’re yet to experience the “good bits”. Last minute access has left us with less than 24 hours to bring you a review, and given there are multiple routes you can take through the levels, we still need a lot more time to test the title properly. As such, we’re yet to actually see the vaunted “eye tracking” encounters, which purport to change each time you blink; we’re hoping these segments deliver, because the title could really do with a win.
For now, though, we’re feeling massively underwhelmed. We’d expected Switchback VR to kickstart the second wave of PSVR2 software in style, but we’re looking at a pretty bog-standard rails shooter at absolute best – and, if anything, the low budget nature of some of these encounters is making us think it may even fall short of that. At this point, we’ve come to accept that Supermassive will never topple Until Dawn – but based on this evidence, even Rush of Blood is looking out of reach as well.
We’ll bring you our full review of The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR later this week. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions about the game in the comments section, and be sure to check out our growing collection of All PSVR2 Games Reviews through the link.
Damn I’m planning to play this tomorrow. Really disappointing to hear this.
Such a shame. Rush of Blood was fantastic.
Well the odds where very slim I would get it...now I defo won't unless it's on sale one day for like £5
Wasn't quite as into rush of blood as others, so this was going be a sale jobby at most. Maybe not even that now, sounds a bit pants.
Shocked to hear this after so many positive previews and hands on doing the rounds (appreciate these were more tailored experiences). Pre-ordered on the basis of loving Rush of Blood, so really hope it's not as bad as your initial impressions suggest and will reserve judgement.
@Gooseman42 I preordered it too. Let’s just hope this opinion is in the minority.
@KaijuKaiser Mixed at the moment on Metacritic at 67% from 6 reviews unfortunately, so not the banger I was hoping for, though I'm sure I will still enjoy it.
Disappointing. I was thinking this would be at least as good as rush of blood.
I guess the main criticism can be alleviated with a balancing patch to some degree, but, hey, I’ve bought it anyway so I’ll get as much enjoyment from it as I can.
It’s strange, some of the games I’ve been most hyped for have turned out worse than expected, but many I had little interested in have been some of the most fun I’ve had in gaming ever!
Zombieland for example, is much more fun than this sounds.
This just changed my mind about buying a PSVR2 right now.
@KaijuKaiser Looks like others agree: https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/15/the-dark-pictures-switchback-vr-review-roller-coaster-of-the-dead-18446217/ mentions that the blinking bit PushSquare have their fingers crossed for lasts less than a minute!
OOF. I was excited for this but after reading this I might buy Zombieland which is cheaper and wait for a sale on this one
Was going to buy this but I don’t think I will now.
Still having a blast with the Light Brigade so I’ll stick with that.
Yes preordered a few days ago, hopefully it's better than this preview. Else that's 32.99 down the drain!! Still Calisto protocol had nothing but bad press so hopefully I will enjoy. Considering Switchback has had so much good feedback over the past few month its slightly disappointing 😞
I’ve been really looking forward to this but I’m concerned about the comment around the visuals. I think I’m massively in the minority but I’ve been disappointed with the clarity of the headset so far.
Until Dawn is still a lightning in a bottle for Supermassive Games huh?
@Ort For real? There’s so many good games. This is just one and it’s not a AAA game or anything.
@h15c0r3r The visuals have been great for me but if you don’t have VR experience and you were expecting flat screen clarity then yeah expect disappointment
Stuff like this solidifies my belief most game developers do not, or cannot, understand what makes their hits popular. So so many are bad at improving upon what works, choosing more often to reinvent systems and introduce all new design choices than to refine the things fans liked.
They seem to always be chasing the people who didn't play the last thing, introducing new stuff that just to dilutes what made it popular to begin with. Always chasing the unknown, not sticking to what worked.
Sorry. Maybe this doesn't entirely fit Supermassive as much as other devs. But this reminded me of that.
Damn, I was really hoping this would redeem PSVR2 for me. I appreciate the honest review though! Personally I think CotM looks (and performs) absolutely awful so if Switchback is worse in your opinion then I'm definitely keeping my money for Saints and Sinners Retribution.
Man I still maintain to this day that Rush of Blood is one of the best vr titles ever. Not only for design but also the fact it was one of only 2 games I witnessed on PS4 remaining at V1.0 (ie, no significant bugs that warranted a patch). Such a shame it doesn't run on PS5 with the original headset
If you were only getting PSVR2 for one game, and nothing else ever, then you probably shouldn’t have been getting PSVR2.
Zombieland is indeed crazy good fun and love the arcade leaning.
@KaijuKaiser I had the original PSVR and also an Oculus, I’m certainly not like many where I’m considering a return as I’m still enjoying it. I think it was all the previews which were saying things like “it’s crystal clear” that my expectations were much higher unfortunately.
@Ort My recommendation would be to give one a try. I won’t return mine but had I tried it beforehand I think I would have passed on it.
Looking at the reviews, I might just cancel my preorder and get a different couple of games instead. I presume this is possible as it’s before release(?)
Edit: successfully cancelled, now to decide what to get instead…
I dunno. There’s a lot of talk that Supermassive is a one-hit wonder, but I actually really liked The Quarry. The Dark Pictures games are all a bit of a mixed bag, but seriously The Quarry was better than people give it credit for. Is it a 10? No, but neither was Until Dawn. I think Until Dawn just benefits a bit from releasing as a novel experience as there weren’t many similar games to it at release and Supermassive has frankly diluted their own brand and genre with the amount of releases they’ve had. Hope Switchback gets better.
@Wolfie_Pie If you're not impressed with Call of the Mountain then you're going to be MASSIVELY unimpressed with this. There's no two ways about it.
@thefourfoldroot1 I think as long as you don't download it you should be able to get a refund.
@Wolfie_Pie You can use Psvr1 on the PS5! You can get a free adapter from Sony for the camera and it works great tbh.
@h15c0r3r Same here, I still play on my original psvr (for WipeOut Omega Collection) and my Rift S quite often. I'm also massively disappointed with the psvr2 visual quality in general. Other owners tend to get so defensive about it, like we aren't allowed to point out valid concerns and flaws in a product we have paid for
@Zeke68 I have the adaptor, but sadly Rush of Blood itself isn't supported on PS5. You can load it (with psvr1 and free adapter), but it will constantly pause itself. I thought my Move controllers were borked but then I googled it, affects everyone Who knows, maybe they will port it to psvr2 though? Fingers crossed...
Was surprisingly fast. 5 minutes and got my £32.99 back in my wallet already. First time dealing with Sony customer service, and I’ve been around since PS1. Quite impressed with the speed despite what people generally say. Now, let’s see what games I should get instead…
Was going to buy this for me and the wife to play but i will just save my money and get Walking dead when it comes out, reviews pending. On the plus side, i got the Air guitar game on the back of the Push square review and im pleasantly surprised by it.
Well that’s a shame to hear. Still, really looking forward to playing it tomorrow.
Don't be put off too much, guys. It's reviewed decently enough elsewhere. PSU just gave it 9/10. Majority seem to have it around 7/10. Not poor, just not amazing.
I enjoy Push Square's reviews but they are often on the low side for some titles 😂 I wouldn't be surprised if this was another one on that pile.
@Wolfie_Pie Ah didn't know that. What a bummer 😱
@KaijuKaiser I was on the fence, and this game was a big selling point for me, since Rush of Blood was one of my favourites in the PSVR.
It's not that I won't buy the PSVR2, just won't buy it right now, maybe next year.
Was worried with the late reviews...hoping Walking Dead is good now though...saying that I have 17 PSVR2 so have plenty to play and absolutely no duds so far with any of those!
I bought a PSVR2 mainly for this game. I have no words... I'm sure there will be plenty of others to enjoy, but still. It kind of sucks.
@Wolfie_Pie Horizon has performance issues for sure, and also a weird effect I've realized is mixture of two things. First, it drops to too low a res and/or too low a framerate in some large areas. The other is possibly the worse one, there's "something" about how it uses Unreal engine that anything that has a "sunlight glare" effect (specifically light that's meant to be sunlight off reflective surfaces including rock and people) creates a super-weird moving-grain effect, makes things blurry, and just kind of painful to look at.
I realized it after playing the latter portion of the game (Nora territory near the Horus) with a lot of interior areas with less geometry, and no/little sunlight glare the game actually looks great! Then I went outside to a large fight arena and it just looked/felt weird again. The area with climbing the tentacles genuinely is fantastic looking and an incredible VR showcase, but some of those outdoor areas with the harsh sun and too much geometry I think poorly represents PSVR2 at its best. I do love the game, but I do wish it didn't have those technical issues. It's both the best and the worst way to present PSVR2 all at the same time.
@h15c0r3r It's always hard to tell what specifically doesn't click with a user with VR and what looks "good" and "bad" because ultimately, VR relies on optical illusions that are eye/face dependent.
But since you're a VR vet and know where expectations lie, what you describe with clarity still sounds to me like it's all about the "sweet spot" problem with the optics but not really the capability of the headset. The first week or two I had it I was generally pleased vs VR1 but still had that "I expected a bit more based on the early reviews" feeling. After spending weeks with it and using it a lot I'm now reliably in a place where i can say "NOW I see what all the reviews meant about clarity!" It's very sharp now (nearly) every time I put it on.
I can't be sure if that's what's happening to you, and there's no way to know, but I very very strongly suspect it's the limited sweet spot at play and you're just not getting it in that right spot. Needing such a specific spot is IMO the biggest flaw of the device, but if you can find it, the device just become so much more enjoyable.
I just didn't think it was as sharp as I expected, with too much blur just looking anywhere but center, too much grain, noticing the filter too much etc. I THOUGHT I was wearing it in the sweet spot at first. Then I found a "better" sweet spot with it worn differently for a while. Not perfect but better. Then it was still sometimes bothering me. And then about a week, week and a half ago, suddenly I just found this "right" way to put it on that it's genuinely as sharp as I pictured it would be every time except the far left/right if I turn my eyes to the side where the lenses do indeed blur (but to be fair I seem much more likely to turn my eyes farther in VR than I do IRL which is a strange phenomenon.) The exceptions to this sharpness are parts of Horizon where the res drops too low and the "sunlight glare" effect in the Unreal engine just does.....weird things in VR, and games where you're close-focusing too much (puzzling places, Townsmen where if you have a habit of putting your face right up against in-game objects to view them too closely you're kind of going cross-eyed and things get blurry.)
Maybe my brain/eyes just adapted to it. Maybe the screen "burns in" after a while, maybe firmware helped..... but I feel like most of the people disappointed in the clarity (I don't mean games that are blurry in rendering (NMS, this means you), I mean the optics blurring the image or too much filter grain) have probably not found the precise way to wear it and hit the sweet spot. It's definitely a product flaw that you need to do it, but once you do it and put it on reliably it stops being a problem. The optics actually are extremely clear almost every time for me now, but it took me wearing it for probably almost 70+ hours before I realized the right way to put it on to get it to be clear.
If you really like and and want to like it and are just annoyed by optics, it's very possible it's better than you think and you just need to work on adjusting it. FWIW after I figured out the right position/appearance for it, I just put it on and off in 2 minutes now, I don't need to spend hours fussing with it to get it right, but it took 70+ hours to find out what that right appearance/position is!
That and the stock max brightness is waaaaay too bright and causes way too much OLED persistence. If you turn brightness to no more than 1 click above middle and find the sweet spot, I'm positive you'll have a much, much better experience with it. Seriously, that max brightness "SEEMS" great at first...240nit is far too bright to put in front of your eyes. Dial it down and you'll never notice it's not max. I have it about half, one click above and often find myself lowering it for some games that still want to burn my eyes out.
Interesting but confusing!! This is almost the exact opposite of what PSU have just written (they gave it a 9/10).
Maybe the truth is inbetween but seems a very wide difference of opinion
Well, what do you know. For once being a giant scaredy cat has paid off.
@NEStalgia Many thanks for your reply it is much appreciated. An example I would use would be Gran Turismo, I was super hyped to play in VR and watched lots of videos beforehand (including Digital Foundry) but when I played it I’ve found it to be one of the least impressive visually. The immersion and cars are super impressive but nothing is sharp, not even the dials inside the car.
The videos I had seen which kept mentioning foveated rendering led me to believe things would be much better.
I've been slinging this opinion around like a cowboy but I think it's become evident that Until Dawn was a fluke/The Sony money shored it up.
Sony were right to dump this dev, i was always surprised they didn't pick them up but dud after dud is proving them correct. Maybe they could see this on studio visits and knew to steer clear?
@h15c0r3r I posted a larger description of how I get it focused in the forum section since it's way too big and off-topic for this thread, but anyone that sees this and also has trouble finding the sweet spot so things look really clear might find it useful. Hopefully this will help! The center is crystal clear now, for me, pretty reliably after I've learned how to put it on quickly. It really does sound absurdly complicated, and in the beginning it is, but after getting used to it, it's a 2 minute process to get strapped in now.
This is really surprising considering early previews seemed overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps this is a case like how movie trailers tend to show you the best parts of the movie the early preview build had the best parts of the game? This really wasn’t a game for me anyway, I had no plans to pick it up at launch figured it may be good as a $10 or $15 game on sale. I’m sure it will get that low at some point. I’m picking up Gorn tomorrow anyway. I loved that game on PSVR aside from how clunky locomotion felt, which shouldn’t be a problem with the VR Sense controllers.
For those that are looking forward to this and have it preordered I hope you still enjoy it and I hope it doesn’t disappoint
@NEStalgia Many thanks.
I wouldn't cancel a pre order based on a single Push Square review when they notoriously underscore/underappreciate any horror game that doesn't have Resident or Space in the title.
That's disappointing. I was really looking forward to this. Are there any other great PSVR2 games on the horizon? RE8 is absolutely amazing but there's nothing else I really want to play on PSVR2. Many games are great but I already played them on Quest 2 and don't want to replay on PSVR2. GT7 looks high quality but I just am not into sim racing.
Destructoid also gave it a 7.5.
Rush of blood overall i felt was alright. The cold mines stage with the giant mutated spiders was the stand out for me personally. Love those bits when the smaller spiders would randomly crawl into your rollercoaster cart. lol But overall, it just suffered more being restrained to PSVR1 because of the low pixelated resolution, black levels were lighter, it couldn't run at 90fps, and the in-game graphics weren't really impressive either when you factor in the 60fps + Reprojection technique.
I don't know, it's sequel is still on my radar. I need to see some more Gameplay footage to bite the bullet. Most likely will wait for a sale. BTW, does Resident Evil 4 Remake(VR Content) have a release date yet? There hasn't been any VR game play footage shown yet either. No other VR title has me this excited!
I will just check more reviews overall. This is exactly why I stopped preordering a long time ago. Even then I generally hold off for a bit. For example it's only recently I am considering Hogwarts, now that there are reviews about the latest patches fixing performance etc. Its usually about then I consider buying, I got sick of being the free QA tester for these companies when purchasing something right on release.
We are in the launch period, so if you’ve played resi8, and horizon and GT7 (or don’t like the latter 2) then you are kind of making do with the multiple dozen ports from quest / PCVR.
If you’ve played all of those, and have no interest in playing better versions…not much. Maybe NMS, Moss games (where they on quest?)
Sony are holding out announcing more of their games I’m sure. There are so many games for most to play that it just makes more sense to spread announcements out. Anyone that had quest these last few years are just going to have to make do with the big 3/4 and at least be happy to see how much better games can be after upgrading from quest 2.
Games for all platforms are limited at launch in terms of exclusives.
Was hyped for this but didn't preorder due to Supermassive's inconsistency. It's disappointing (Rush of Blood is one of my VR favourites), but I'll probably give it a go if it gets a big price drop in a sale.
I'll most likely still pick it up. Almost all of the mid or negative reviews, hell even positive reviews, are saying basically it's pretty good, but could've been better. I get that, but I don't think that should drop it's score in my opinion.
I was only moderately interested in this game, but this is still pretty disappointing to hear.
Just played an hour of it and loved it. Maybe all the negative talk made me go in thinking it was going to be crap, but I really loved it. Looking forward to getting back on it later.
EDIT: I can’t wait, jumping back in now. Haha.
Did a few more levels. Amazing stuff. So much to see too.
EDIT 2: Had lunch, going back for more.
@thefourfoldroot1 May I ask how you managed to get a refund? I get as far as the chat where it asks if I’m the account holder and if the games released then it says no one is available to help. 😞
That’s strange. It took about 2 minutes for a very helpful lady named Georgia to contact me. I guess it just depends on time of day and how busy they are. Sorry i couldn’t be more help. I’m in the UK by the way, not sure if Sony have different regional help centres.
@thefourfoldroot1 No worries, I’m in the UK too. It said 24/7 but when it said no one was available it stated a UTC time. I’ll keep trying and thanks for replying.
@h15c0r3r That does sound as though something is wrong there, for me GT7 is sharp on car interiors/text/menus, but admittedly less so exterior to the car. Still an incredible experience though.
Well after playing through a few levels last night I must say I did enjoy the my time with the game overall. If I hadn't read this preview I would have been more disappointed.
Gunplay is excellent and how it makes use of the haptics, the shooting feel great. There are some nice touches on some of the routes I took which change the approach a bit (other than the blinking mechanic). And although I wasn't scared like with some horror games, I did jump a few times.
However, while it uses some features of the PSVR2/PS5 there's definitely room for improvement in the visuals/animations/textures (hands & guns do look pretty good though).
It also doesn't seem to take advantage of the SSD, as loading times are also poor and can't understand why compared to much larger scale games.
It's still early days for me, though but at the moment I'd liken it to an old theme park ride you used to love when you were a kid, which they added a few new twists to, but still doesn't quite compete with modern rides and is slightly underwhelming.
Hopefully, a few patches can address some of these issues as it's still fun but more time in the oven was needed really.
@Gooseman42 It’s a great experience, and brilliant to have a full blown game in VR. I was just expecting better visuals and I think all the early previews of people playing on YouTube heightened my expectations.
That's disappointing to hear. Rush of Blood was so good, and also one of the first games I played on PSVR1 to get my VR legs.
I really think push square has a biased against super massive games. I just played this for an hour and I had a blast. I didn't encounter any enemies that took more than 3 bullets or so to kill and a large majority were 1 shot kills.
While until dawn is better than the quarry, I did enjoy the quarry also.
@jrt87 This. If you were interested in this game before, you probably won't be disappointed. Push squares VR reviews are all over the place and really make no sense when placed one next to the other, granted you can't expect everyone on the review staff to have the same opinions and tastes.
I'm a little shocked how many people just came in here, read three paragraphs and instantly were turned off even when the authors said they hadn't had much time with the game.
Like I said, I just played for about an hour, which is about as long as I'm going to play any game in a single session and I had a ton of fun.
To put it in perspective, the push square staff constantly bashes The Quarry...
And yet I just read an article on this site.... "Top horror games on PS5.
Where do you think the Quarry fits into that? IT'S RANKED SIXTH!!!! Guess what game is ranked #5.... THE LAST OF US.
Push squares overall reviews are not to be considered seriously.
If you want a good scare. Buy RE Village. Plus it's on sale. Worth every penny in VR.
This article should be taken down. I really don't know what version of the game push square is playing? I just finished the third track (and the tracks are a lot longer than you might expect) and I've come across 1 enemy that is a bullet sponge and it was a boss fight!
Additionally push square says they haven't got to a don't blink sequence... IT IS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SECOND TRACK. Clearly they haven't played that much, or maybe they were given a snippet of the boss fight? I don't know but I urge people not to give up on this game due to this very inaccurate thrashing session.
Now to be fair, this game has some of the most disgraceful load times for a ps5 game and the visuals aren't going to knock your socks off, fire in particular looks some times comical.
But I don't think those things take away from the fun game play. They do a lot of stuff with the environment to add layers and depth, your not always just sitting there shooting.
But you're not Super Massively underwhelmed. So, there's that.
Spot on review yet I'm having a great time playing it.
To be fair I haven't seen the things in their screen caps and I haven't come across any dogs. Not sure why they would get a different version of the game a day before it comes out? I'm playing story mode... Maybe they are doing a different mode??
Wasn't ever interested at launch. This type of shooting gallery game belongs in the era of the OG Vive and Rift.
It's one of those £7.99 games I'd see on the Quest 2 store all the time, but with slightly more polished visuals.
I'm sure it's fun for what it is, but I think I'd be more interested if it was down at the £15 mark like Kayak.
As Ernimus says above, just buy Village. It's a far better value proposition.
I'm a massive VR fan. I own 3 VR headsets and around 130 PSVR games, but PSVR2 is a massive fail. And the worst thing is, VR fanboys are an extreme cult, if you say anything remotely negative about VR they attack you.
When Sony revealed the price of PSVR2 anyone with any sense could see it would be DOA.
Honestly they're burning themselves out and are too afraid to venture out to try something different. Rather get that consistent money than try something else.
Its going to sound disrespectful, but that's the reason why I get their games for $10 on Amazon. That way I dont feel too disappointed for buying it at $40.
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