As a dark comedy, Weeping Doll would be just about the most amusing game on PlayStation VR right now – and that's high praise considering that the platform already plays host to the genuinely hilarious Job Simulator and Headmaster. But somehow we don't think that Chinese outfit TianShe Media had funnies in mind when it made this virtual reality "fright" fest.
The game borrows liberally from the likes of P.T. and Layers of Fear, placing you into the soft-bottomed shoes of a maid (?) named A'Tong (?) who finds herself wrapped up in a dark family scenario. The story's horrendously written and even worse acted so we barely got the gist of what was going on, but basically it all revolves around a scorned child and flawed parents. Or something like that.
There's actually some good ideas here, but the execution is woeful. The doll-maker Dad makes for a creepy antagonist, and everyone can relate to the ideas of ugliness and perfection that are at play here. The problem is that the voice acting is among some of the worst that we've heard in decades – just listen to the state of this snippet that we simply had to share on Twitter.
And that ultimately ruins the title's most tense moments; you'll be giggling your way through key pieces of exposition, rather than paying attention to what you're actually being told. The gameplay doesn't really fare all that much better, limiting you to a select number of items that you can actually interact with, and serving up turgid puzzles which don't take much effort to solve.
Worse still, the setting doesn't feel right in the slightest. The game appears to take place in a Victorian-esque stately manor, but it has traditional Asian bedrooms with samurai swords, and despite the main character wearing classical attire, she's inexplicably carrying a mobile phone. It doesn't make sense, and will leave you pondering why a house with CRT televisions is also decorated with LED fairy lights.
The controls aren't great either, but considering the game only lasts 90 minutes or so, they're not the end of the world. You're essentially able to move a "ghost" of your character using the left analogue stick, and then teleport to that position. The reason that the studio's selected this method of locomotion is to reduce motion sickness, and to be fair, we felt comfortable throughout.
Weeping Doll's one of those games where you can see the intentions of the developer, but the end product just isn't very good. The muddled mismatch of time periods could be forgiven if the writing wasn't so woeful and the voice acting so unintentionally amusing. There's the nugget of a good idea here, but like an action figure with its appendages in the wrong places, it's been sloppily assembled.