The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR Review – A Blurry Rollercoaster Ride
As an avid fan of The Dark Pictures series, I was eagerly looking forward to experiencing Switchback VR, the new VR spin-off of the franchise. However, my excitement soon turned into disappointment as I spent some time with the game. In comparison to its predecessor, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Switchback VR failed to leave a lasting impression.
Switchback VR features four scenarios, each based on a story from The Dark Pictures Anthology, and is an on-rails shooter game, much like Rush of Blood. The gameplay is reminiscent of a rollercoaster ride, with no control over movement or stopping. Players can shoot at signs to take alternative paths and access different endings, adding some replay value to the game. The objective is to accumulate as many points as possible while navigating through various hazards and creatures of the night, all while experiencing jump scares.
However, Switchback VR’s most significant drawback lies in its visuals. Despite playing several PSVR 2 games, this title was one of the most visually disappointing ones. The game appears blurry, particularly during the nighttime scenes, making it difficult to navigate through the majority of the levels. The combination of blurriness and the rollercoaster-style gameplay can cause nausea and motion sickness, negatively impacting the overall experience.
It is unclear why the developers chose to offer subpar visuals, especially considering that the PS5 and PSVR 2 are more than capable of handling demanding graphics. While Switchback VR does provide some enjoyable jump scares and alternate paths, its lackluster visuals and potential for motion sickness detract from the overall experience.
On the other hand, The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR has some redeeming qualities. The shooting mechanics are well executed, and the ability to shoot and break down several items in the background adds to the immersion. The game makes clever use of haptic feedback, 3D audio, and eye tracking to provide a sense of presence. One noteworthy example of eye tracking is its ability to detect when players blink, which is effectively used in one of the levels.
Switchback VR is designed to keep players on their toes but is best played in a seated position. Players who lack VR legs may experience motion sickness due to the randomness and steep drops of the rollercoaster. The level design is well-thought-out and captures the essence of each scenario. The game’s replay value is increased by the ability to take multiple paths, but death due to failure is not a significant threat as players will respawn at the nearest checkpoint. While it can be enjoyed as a party game with friends and family, it still requires a few patches before it can be considered an essential game.
In addition to shooting, Switchback VR includes some puzzles that can be challenging to solve, occasionally breaking the game’s flow. While the game makes excellent use of the PSVR 2’s eye tracking and haptic feedback, the Sense controllers make shooting effortless. The reloading mechanism can be activated either by shaking the controller or by pressing a designated button, allowing players to quickly replenish their weapon’s ammunition. Furthermore, there is a temporary weapon upgrade system in each level, granting players various bonuses to enhance their gameplay experience.
One minor issue that I encountered was related to the subtitles, which were hard to read in the game due to being blurry. It was not easy to make out the full text, and this was one of the rare VR games where I found the subtitles harder to read, which is not the case for other games. I hope the developers will address this issue in the future.
Overall, The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR is a well-designed game that suffers from several technical issues. The blurry visuals, texture pop-ins, and lighting glitches need to be fixed before it can be considered an essential VR shooter for the PSVR 2. Players interested in the game should wait for patches to address these issues before playing it.
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR Game Information
- Price: $39.99
- Publisher: Supermassive Games
- Developer: Supermassive Games
- Platform: PSVR 2 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher