If you could experience the world of a nightmare, how would you go about it? Would you face the fears? Maybe you would try to find different paths in hopes the outcome may be different. Perhaps you would try to have something close to your heart that you knew could help you through whatever the tale may be. All I know is that nightmares can be a scary situation if we let them take over. But does developer Supermassive Games give us the ride as we try not to blink in the face of horror? Let’s discover with The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR for the PlayStation VR2.
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR is a rail shooter that plunges players into a fast-paced rollercoaster horror action shooter. This original standalone game is where you will come face to face with the most terrifying antagonists from Season One of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Experience horror like never before in this multi-sensory VR experience, with the PlayStation VR2’s innovative capabilities. So before going on the ride on the coaster of death, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, this is a horror game and things will make you jump. So you may want to pray before playing. Second, make sure those Sense controllers are charged as you don’t want to come face to face with evil only to have your controllers die because you forgot to charge them. Third, find your favorite place to sit. This is a coaster rider after all and there will be some ducking and moving that you will have to do. And finally, just have some fun. With all that said, let’s continue…
When you first start, you are one of the passengers that are on a train ride and I will say that at this point, everything looks good thus far. It’s when the train ride continues that things start to take a turn for a worse. A sudden call from your sister Charlotte that you are not really talking with, but the conversation does start to help move the part of the story along. That’s when the train wreck happens and you start to realize you are being haunted by a malevolent spirit throughout your ride. But it wasn’t until that first glimpse of being on the track with the spooky atmosphere, along with other parts of the game, that I started to realize there was more here than what was being let on.
Starting out, it serves as the tutorial so you can get used to using the Sense controllers I have to say, compared to Rush of Blood for PlayStation VR, The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR tracking is so much better. Everything I shot at was dead on even if part of what I was shooting at was just the open air. To reload your weapons you can simply shake your controllers or press X. It’s that simple and it works beautifully. Also, having lights from the guns help especially when you are in the darker parts of the game. Just keep in mind, that marked targets get you a higher score. The higher the score, the better you will be on those leaderboards as each level has its own unique leaderboard to try and challenge.
And the ride that you are on is not just taking you on one single path. You will be going through various locations that include a Ghost Ship, houses, and well, I will not spoil that for you. There will be parts of the track that will allow you to make choices if you are going to go left or right. Keep in mind, that after each level, you do get to see the path you selected, which means, that you will just need to go back and select the opposite sides to see what may be waiting for you.
There will be some rooms with puzzles, which are not difficult, that you will need to solve before progressing. Other rooms can very well be more disturbing for others such as dolls climbing on the ceiling, dogs that may not be fully fleshed out, and even rats that can be in packs coming right for you. Remember, this is horror, so try and embrace it all.
Now, being that this is PlayStation VR2 and the PlayStation VR2 has features, the developer decided to make use of these features such as feeling the haptic feedback in the headset when you are going down the track to give you that sense of speed to even a few places where when you blink, objects will start to move until you have no choice but to start shooting like there is no tomorrow. Speaking of shooting, there are boxes along the way that when you shoot them, you can gain a new weapon, like the shotgun, for a limited amount of time. So make sure you keep an eye out for those. That is, if you are not caught off by the jump scares first.
I will say that some levels are better than others. I loved it when I was riding along and you can see things just move and I could try and shoot at whatever was out there as I got the feeling like I was being watched. But there is this one level in particular in the Forsaken Ruins that did not have a lot of action going on and it seemed like it was the more anticipation level as I was just waiting for something to happen only to every now and then shoot at some things until things started to pick up. But it’s when you are in areas of levels where you know something is going to move and you are just waiting for something to move and jump at you that really adds to the fun of the game.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. There are times when playing and the moonlight is hitting just right and when you add the fog of the night, just really adds to the atmosphere. There are some parts that some may not think are up to PlayStation VR2 specs or may think that the graphics, at some parts, are below par. I can see where they might think that. But earlier I mentioned there was something more here than what was being let on. And I think, at least for me, for the most part, the developers have captured that horror genre. The game seems to have borrowed certain specialties from horror movies and added them in its own special way. While playing I had not only The Dark Picture vibes but SAW, Children of the Corn, The Fog, The Conjuring, and so much more. Yes, could some parts be improved on? Yes. Were there some parts that were awesome just as they were? Yes. As far as the sound, if you pair the game with a good headset such as the Pulse 3D Audio headset, you are going to be in for a treat. The music fits, hearing the screams when you are outside, and hearing everything get quiet just as the wheels are coming to stop as something is about to jump out at you, provides a very chilling immersive experience
There are a few things that I would love to see. For one, more choices in paths. I do appreciate the path selections that are here, but having more would even add more to the replayability. Second, more use of eye-tracking. There are a few parts that use eye-tracking so every time you blink something moves. This is a great use of the technology that I would love to see more parts of the game take advantage of this. Third, more special weapons. Even with the parts where you can upgrade the weapons for a certain amount of time, it would be nice if there was more of a variety, or at least, you can keep that weapon until the next weapon box. And finally, just more of the coaster to ride.
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR takes us on a ride on a nightmare rollercoaster and doesn’t even try hiding the fears you will experience. It takes a ride with new features and uses them to the best of its ability all while trying to make the best experience for those who wish to buckle in for its ride. Sometimes in life, we have our own demons and nightmares of a reality that we live with. Sometimes we try and run and others we ride it through. But no matter how bad things may seem, isn’t it better to get a glimpse of how things can become if we don’t stop and listen to what is being told so we can make better decisions on the rollercoaster ride of life?
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR is out now on PlayStation VR2. A review code was provided.
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Don’t forget to check out The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR video review:
Also, check out The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR interview.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have some paths to take and leaderboards to climb.