There aren’t enough first-person experiences on the Switch. Some may put that down to the popularity of the eShop’s 2D and retro-styled games, though others may point to the 3D first-person games which have already released on the system to little if any critical acclaim.
Escape Room is in cinemas at the moment, and Dying: Reborn – Nintendo Switch Edition is a disturbing video game equivalent of that premise. It is essentially a horror-themed, first-person point-and-click, telling a short and unsettling story set across six levels. Like the majority of point and clicks, you find items in one place and then use them to solve predicaments elsewhere, and there are some pretty clever puzzles at play here – reading a list of numbers and then playing the corresponding keys on a nearby piano was the one which stuck out from the opening level – but a lot of the other puzzles seem to be needlessly complicated.
One later on instructs you not to touch any of the room’s clocks – it took an age to figure out that rather than touching them, as surely would be the obvious thing to do, you instead had to make a note of the times displayed on the clocks and then enter it in numerated form as the combination to unlock a briefcase elsewhere in the room. Other puzzles involved guessing combinations that for the life of me I couldn’t find the rationale for, and that detracted from the satisfaction that is necessary to enjoy puzzle titles such as this.
One thing the game does do well is atmosphere – while you do walk along at a snail’s pace in true survival horror style, that does give you time to take in your surroundings – and there are at least a couple of good jump scares, usually involving mannequins, one of them seeing one smashing through a mirror with no prior warning which really does shake the player up. Sound is good for the immersivity too, and the dark story is progressed through video messages played on television sets in each room. It doesn’t become abundantly clear until the very end exactly what the game’s macabre plot is all about, but the horror tropes of grime and blood swamped all through every location does create a mood which will last in the memory.
But again, there are issues which make the game less immersive, with the clunky item menu at the forefront – you cycle through items from left to right, merging a few of them, but selecting them never gives a satisfying notification that you’ve done so, and you need to do some fiddling in the opening level to figure out how to do it in the first place. A side-quest of sorts involves items which you get one opportunity to use or you’ve missed out – that’s perhaps a symptom of a game which had an opportunity to be more.
DYING: Reborn - Nintendo Switch Edition
A short experience, DYING: Reborn lacks too much in satisfying puzzle experience to stand out from the eShop crowd.