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PSVR2 GamesReviews

The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR Review (Updated)

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was a game I was waiting for either a sequel or more content to come after playing it in the first few days of the release of the original PSVR. Now, Supermassive Games have returned with Switchback VR, releasing a rollercoaster, come horror, come light gun style game based in the The Dark Pictures universe. As soon as this was announced I was so excited to finally be getting a sequel of sorts to one my favourite PSVR games – the question is; could it live up to the expectations set?

GAMEPLAY

Switchback VR’s gameplay is exactly what it says on the tin… a rollercoaster action horror shooter. Where this might sound like it’s something that is outdated for Virtual Reality with how long the medium has how been available – it still holds up in some areas, where falling off track in others.

The main element for your gameplay is the shooting and this really is the standout part of the gameplay for me. With the rollercoaster element allowing for slow down in areas or coming to halt as waves of enemies spawn in for you to kill. In order to dispatch these you will be given a basic set of pistols like in Rush of Blood, and creates strategically placed that will give you guns like shotguns and smg’s – until the magazines deplete and then you are back to your pistols.

They then introduce a horror element to the rides making them more like a ghost-train than a general rollercoaster. However, for me Switchback VR seems to rely on cheap jump scares that soon become old, and it seems after the rides based on Man of Medan they get less scary overall as you moved further through. Which for me is a shame, as someone who has played all The Dark Pictures games, I personally feel Little Hope had the most potential to mess with you in a horror aspect.

Throughout the first playthrough, I would say there was only two times in total where I felt totally freaked out and the over-used close up in your face jump scares got boring quickly. It seems like the team have relied more on the game just going dark or taking your guns off you to build tension – where Rush of Blood seemed to build it up without relying on these sort of things.

Supermassive Games have brought in some elements for The Dark Pictures to make it feel more in the games universe, but these two elements to me sort of took away from it, as in most cases the rollercoaster slowed down or stopped. This sees you trying to save characters from each game – making the decision to help them or not and bringing in multiple paths on the rides, sort of giving you that choice the standard games offer. The next is puzzles, but these are very simple to solve and not that taxing and in most cases stop the ride still – which drags you away for the rollercoaster experience.

This leads to the actual rollercoaster element of the game and in most cases to me it feels more like a ghost-train over a rollercoaster. It just seems the amount of high speed elements and big drops have been reduced in Switchback VR, which is a big shame – as the carnival rollercoaster ride feeling and the fast-paced dodging segments were a big part of Rush of Blood.

One area they used on the trailer was the Don’t Blink element, which is using the eye-tracking feature in the best way I have seen on PSVR2 so far. However, these sections do no present themselves enough, and some areas feel perfect for the use of it – but, instead they use the aforementioned make it dark feature to mask the movement. Another part of the new hardware they use is the headset rumble, but this again falls into a mixed bag category. This is because at times it works great and you feel every rumble, but sometimes it seems there is slight delay in when you hit obstacles to feeling it – and it feels a missed opportunity to not have a slight rumble when picking up speed, this would have been great for immersion.

PRESENTATION

Visually with Patch 1.0.6 the game has had massive improvements, and my main issues with game have been addressed. Gone are the low quality textures, the pop-in and the haze that plagued it on release.

With this in mind the game now looks like a PlayStation VR 2 game, and personally the improvements made above and the darker blacks they have implemented really makes it feel like a whole new game. With the visuals looking a lot sharper, the darker environments and the enemy models having little touch-up really adds to the horror element of the game – as you can not always see what it coming up.

One of the most impressive parts of the game is they have used the 3D audio really well to build up some of the horror elements. Allowing you to hear enemies moving around you, coming up beside you and in those jump scare elements. Mixed with the music, it’s used well to build the suspense and personally this offered more a scare than the aforementioned over-used and sometimes easy to predict jump scares.

COMFORT/CONTROLS

When it comes to comfort, with you being on a rollercoaster it is made to be played seated. With the next big question being; will be suitable for everyone when it comes motion sickness? This is up in the air really and depends on the user, as with Rush of Blood and other general rollercoaster experiences in VR motion sickness is a very possible outcome.

The ace up the sleeve when it comes to guns are the PSVR2 Sense Controllers, as is it brings those adaptive triggers to make firing each of the five guns you get to use feel different and match the spray pattern of the guns.

TRACKED CONTROLLERS

gamepad

LONGEVITY

All of the rides took me around three and half-hours to get though, but they do offer reasons to return after you have been through them all. With the game coming with combat difficulties, global and friend leaderboards and every track having multiple paths to chose from. With the path choice meaning you can at least get a different experience for an additional run.

However, if you take the light gun action and the leaderboard system there is plenty of reason to keep returning and taking runs of each ride – which was the main pull of Rush of Blood.

REVIEWED USING PLAYSTATION VR 2

For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a purchased copy of the game. The use of a purchased version of the game does not affect my judgement of the product.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

After suffering initial disapointment with Switchback VR on release, I was pleased to see the team quickly release a statement saying they were working on patching the issues raised by many at launch – this patch has been released.

With the game bringing a good mix of the light gun style action on a rollercoaster that I wanted, with some extras which work in places and fall off in others. The use of The Dark Pictures series allowed them to make rides in all the different locations from the first season of games and use some of the horrible horrors you face in those games. But again, some of the settings worked better than others. With the new patched visuals, the game feels more like I expected on release and for me has changed what felt like a PSVR 1.5 game to a true PSVR2 game, and this massively improves the experience.

With this update most of my original issues have been addressed, which for me made it feel like a whole new game. I am really pleased to say with the patch Switchback VR is now a game that I can recommend adding to your PSVR2 library and kudos to the team for addressing the issues.

GAME DETAILS

Release Date: March 16th 2023
Developer: Supermassive Games Ltd
Publisher: Supermassive Games Ltd
Price: US $39.99 / CA$ 53.49/ €39.99 / £32.99

Review Updated: 31/07/2023
Following Patch 1.0.6 update
Prevoiusly graded Unremarkable

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