Video Game Review: Here They Lie (PSVR, 2016)

Here They Lie has you thrown into the first person perspective of a seemingly tall and lanky middle aged man. You aren’t given anything to go on other than a beautiful woman in a yellow dress to follow through a creepily quiet ghost town and for some reason. I can’t quite fathom why I felt the need to follow from the start, but I’m glad I did.

For anyone looking for a clear and predictable plot, maybe look somewhere else. This feels like an art piece and besides the theme of something terrible happening to this town and its people, its largely left to you to interpret the game any which way you like.

While the game copped its share of criticism after launch, I found myself rather enjoying it, though I can appreciate that it’s definitely not for everyone. A genre in its own right, the walking simulator has become extremely popular as of late. Starting with games such as Dear Esther a few years back and more recently Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture and Firewatch, these tight knit stories hold a place in my heart as some of the very best in video game storytelling and even greater character development.

Here They Lie really doesn’t stray far from the formula laid out in those aforementioned titles. In fact, it even borrows some of the more common gameplay fundamentals that were introduced in Amnesia: Dark Descent in which you cannot look at the enemies or fight them. You have to run, hide and pray you’re not found all while carefully making your way around them. If this sort of horror gameplay doesn’t sound like fun, then this game is not for you.

DO Not Look Them In The Eyes
Do not go the eyes, Boo. Do not go for the eyes.

The visuals are mostly grainy blacks and whites with the occasional splash of colour for effect. A parade of jump scares become fairly routine along the mostly mundane path, or it would be without the addition of the new PlayStation VR hardware making you really feel immersed in this nightmare you can’t seem to escape.

Moving around in Here They Lie consists of using your head with the PlayStation VR to look around the environment and the DualShock controllers left analogue stick to move forward wherever your head may be looking. There is a quick turn button in case you get stuck up against random objects or walls. At first, it took some getting used to, but after a few minutes I grew quite comfortable with it. Quite frankly it was a really nice change of pace from all the other fast moving VR launch titles.

The Main Protagonist
The Main Protagonist/That Alien Observer Dude from Fringe

As I mentioned earlier the plot, and the motives of the character we inhabit, a man who has a hard time recognizing his own reflection, or even, seemingly, his own voice, were an enigma to me. This guy is driven to chase after a beautiful woman in a yellow sundress, but without adequate explanation of who and where he was, what he was doing, who she was, and why he felt compelled to chase her, it didn’t give me the sense of urgency if felt like they were shooting for. I used these moments of bewilderment to ignore the threadbare story and explore my surroundings, another area where the game suffers. If you even remotely veer off course all you’re really given as a reward is a piece of paper inside a box that reveals letters that make no sense.

Just Another Crazy Villager
*insert Phantom of the Opera joke here*

I really think the journey here is much more rewarding than the destination. The game does a great job of building atmosphere but doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with it all. It attempts to build a mystery that can’t quite pay off, and you don’t really ever solve it in a gratifying way. Yet, I still found moments of enjoyment with Here They Lie. Even if it feels like another slightly overpriced launch title, it shows the promise of what can we can expect from horror VR with a clear mandate in the future.

Score: 6.0 out of 10
Highlights: Immersive environments and an intriguing mystery. Some great scares that don’t always rely on cheap jumps. Difficult Moral Choices and well thought out level design.
Lowlights: Jump scares, voice acting can be a bit stale and no real sense of completion or replay value.
Developer: Tangentlemen, SIE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: Out Now
Platforms: PlayStation 4 VR