When Sony set out to launch its own virtual reality headset, one of the most important things that it had to do is make sure that it had lots of games released alongside it. Through the years, the games industry has seen many a peripheral fail miserably due to a lack of support. To combat this, an impressively large launch lineup was made, among them an impressive number of first-party titles. And one of those games is Here They Lie, the obligatory horror title in the device's catalogue.
As a first-person game, the discussion here must centre on motion sickness first and foremost. Basic locomotion is handled by looking around and holding forward to move in a given direction. The right stick can also be used for additional snap turning, as well as quickly to your rear. Initially, it seems incredibly awkward, and it's a rather bizarre sensation. However, by the game's end, we felt really comfortable with this system, and would say that, at least for now, this is the most comfortable motion system we've encountered on the platform thus far.
Another thing that really impressed us was this game's restraint. We were heading into this title really worried that the game's only concept of horror would be a combination of loud noises and other jump scares. Sure, there are a couple of those, but the game largely opts for an unsettling and tension-based form of horror. This was much appreciated, particularly in virtual reality, as a constant barrage of jump scares would've not only been manipulative, but rather irritating. It's the dark underbelly of an unspecified monochromatic city instead that does a lot of the heavy lifting in regards to being scary.
The grungy city is as much a character in the game as you. And the sense of scale in the environments helps to combat the rather sparse narrative. Looking upwards and seeing skyscrapers looming hundreds of feet above you, as well as dark, endless abysses below is a really impressive feeling, and really got us thinking about the scope of the environments. On several occasions, we found ourselves just looking around the immense locales in wonder, something that we don't really encounter in regular games anymore.
This wonder and awe stemming from the game's environments comes to a head towards the end of the three hour journey through the dark city. One particular sequence finds you on a gondola, and we aren't kidding when we say the sequence left our mouths agape. It's remarkably well done and a real highlight of the game.
The game's environments would've been even easier to enjoy if the game's level of detail were handled differently, though. The problem is that the world's really sparsely detailed unless it's shoved in your face. This causes problems from a gameplay standpoint, too. While it makes taking in the huge, cavernous environments a little more difficult because of how lacking in detail they are, it also makes one segment of the game harder than it needs to be.
We found ourselves sneaking around in one particular area that had tall grass all around. Our goal was to navigate the maze-like area while avoiding a rather imposing horde of enemies. The only problem is that, because of the weird way that texture pop is handled, the enemies and the grass are indistinguishable. As a silver lining, though, the way that the death loading screen works is really cool, to the point where we would recommend that you make a point of dying at least once while playing to see it. It's worth it.
Another ever-important feature in horror is, of course, audio. And, fortunately, the chance to utilise the 3D audio offered by PlayStation VR is put to good use. Situational awareness is key, and got us out of a few situations that could've ended badly. Some of the enemies only get aggressive if you look at them – think Slenderman style – and the 3D audio allowed us to know exactly where not to look.
Here They Lie is not a perfect horror game – but it's tense and well worth experiencing if you're looking for some frights for your new PlayStation VR headset. The narrative could have been stronger, and the way it displays textures is odd, but the cavernous environments and clever control scheme make this a ride worth taking.
This creeped me out, I'm ashamed to admit. I love horror games, but I'm not sure I'm man enough to do them in VR.
I liked what I played, though, so will be going back.
Thank goodness this game's not a stinker. I've had high hopes for it, and from the write up it looks like it checks all the boxes I had. I'll definitely be picking this one up within the next month or so.
Is it exhausting to play in VR for long periods? Cause all these games look kinda short.
I wish I had money to at least try VR, despite knowing it is and it will be a niche! Never tried VR and would like to know the feel! Still I would never play VR for hours like I do with regular gaming!
Aaaaand there's still no game I really want to play on PS VR.
Horror games are always the most interesting, so I would like to try this
@hadlee73 I've also heard a lot about the motion sickness with this game in particular. So I was really surprised at how smooth it was. For me personally it never made me feel even a little sick, but it seems like the root of the problem stems from first person fluid motion. The mind thinks you're moving, but at the same time it also knows you're not, so it seems like that would be the issue. I can't speak personally as none of the VR games I've tried (quite a few of them now) have made me feel sick because of moving, but that generally seems to be the root of the problem.
@MadAussieBloke yeah that effect is awesome! Looking at them and knowing they're looking right back at you like that is really unnerving!
@sinalefa It definitely can be. I think it might stem from the proximity of the screen to your eyes. It makes you have to look in almost a different way, and it can be tiring. And then for those that get motion sick, it would tire them out even more quickly! A lot of the games are short though, absolutely.
Can this game be played without VR?
Seems that the game is getting some mixed reactions. Sites like Jiminquisition and IGN seems to hate it while sites like Game Informer and Game Spot seems to like it, while others like Destructoid and PSLS found the game OK.
I tried the demo and even I would love to buy this game, the motion sickness had me tearing off my headset after ten seconds or so.
Might be that there are people out there, who aren't prone to this sort of movement scheme but I much prefer the (Batman like) warp. Its even when I force myself to last for a couple of seconds longer that I get really sick to the point where I start sweating and feel miserable hours after stop playing.
I have started playing in VR since 2014, so I'm quite comfortable with the medium. But I just can not get myself to play games with the traditional FPS control mechanism.
@skaarj217 Nope. When the game's cover says "required" it means the VR set is mandatory; if it says "compatible", the VR set is optional.
"There's a naked guy with antlers covered in blood and waving his meat and two veg around. 7/10"
I can tell horror is gonna be way oversaturated in VR. The RE7 demo was mind blowing but so totally not for me. And neither is this. Was hoping is was more "creepy scary" than all out horror. If Sammy can't even take it then I definitely am not interested.
And I keep hearing motion sickness, motion sickness. 2 days of slight dizziness in high motion games and it was gone, permanently. Now I'm racing in DriveClub in the first person view (head to the wind baby!) and crashing into walls at 160mph without a hitch. Sure, it's a little mentally jarring to crash head first at fatal speeds and find yourself still safely sitting in your recliner, but tbh it's kinda fun.
I played VR for like 8 hours straight Saturday and at least 4 more Sunday. It's not really tiresome. The visor for PSVR is so comfy- they did such a great job with it. I lean back in my recliner and lean my head back too. Sometimes I'll lean forward, but for most games you can just chill. Only games with the move (like Arkham VR) did I really need to sit forward. I refuse to stand for any though. And it hasn't been needed tbh. Sitting works just fine.
I imagine most games are shorter because of the lesser install base. Arcade like games have likely been prominent (like the 80's has been rebooted and we're starting all over agin, only this time in VR) because they're cheaper to make and excellent fit for the system. Other titles like this, I think it's just that not many are fully committing to full releases. Or they have to increase budget for the VR production values and thus cut back length. Or maybe a combination of all the above.
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