If you're looking for something scary to get started on with PSVR, look no further.
Here They Lie started out as a complete unknown. Yes, there were a few of those in the media, us included, that showed the very first reveal trailer and said that this one was one PlayStation VR title you'd want to keep an eye on, but for most part this game has been flying completely under the radar. The studio behind it, Tangentlemen, consists of a few experienced developers, having worked on Tomb Raider, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Call of Duty, but this is actually their first project together, and when a title this unknown gets to stand next to all the software that Sony is releasing at launch themselves, it runs the risk of getting overshadowed or missed.
However, Here They Lie is amongst the very best of the launch line-up for the PlayStation VR, and that's mainly due to the fact that it presents a viable solution to one of virtual reality's main problems: locomotion.
Let's then start by explaining just how Tangentlemen has overcome this difficult design challenge. Most VR titles actually don't even try to solve this problem, and instead they render you stationary, as in The London Heist in PlayStation VR Worlds or Job Simulator. Other games place you in a vehicle, to help the player overcome the helplessness of having a body that simply cannot move, as seen in Driveclub VR, Eve: Valkyrie or Battlezone. One potential solution lets the player teleport, as in Batman Arkham VR.
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In Here They Lie, you can move. You're a person, and you move around, and already here the game distinguishes itself from other PlayStation VR launch titles. But it's the solution itself that impresses. Quite simply, you start walking by pressing forward on the left stick on a DualShock 4 controller, and the direction in which you're walking is the direction you're looking at with your headset. It sounds quite simple, and some other VR titles opt for the same solution, and rightfully so. As you're always heading in the direction you're looking, this design provides steady movements, and that enhances the game's atmosphere. Here They Lie is played very methodically and feels cinematic, and since the movement pattern is both slow and soft, it's never jarring to move within the game world (as it very often can be in VR). Some may tire of the fact that you "just" walk, but in terms of moving with a controller, and feeling immersed in the world around you with VR, few titles are as successful as Here They Lie.
The immersion is only enhanced by the game's amazing and freakish universe. You exist in a nightmarish, dystopian world, a sort of dark echo of our own, where people in animal masks are constantly out to club you to death and where surreal threats lure around every corner. A gigantic burning gentleman in a suit suddenly crawls out of a hole in a dark subway tunnel, hammerhead sharks hover across a vast abyss, a golden child dances in an abandoned plaza. In this nightmare there is neither up nor down, and in this limbo you'll experience one of the most interesting game worlds this year.
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There isn't actually much to learn about the game world as you move through, but it feels a lot like Silent Hill in the sense that it's all calm, but there is no question that everything and everyone is out to harm you.
Here They Lie is one of the oh so very dreaded "walking simulators", which recently has been a subject of debate. If you are the sort of player who missed interaction in Dear Esther, or would've loved a deeper gameplay in Gone Home, you won't like what you'll find in Here They Lie. The interaction is minimal, and the only real action you take is opening doors, hiding from threats and shining a light on certain objects. This is, however, an advantage for Here They Lie, because it never sets itself up to be something more than an atmospheric and enigmatic experience, one that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand like there's no tomorrow. Now that most of the launch games for PlayStation VR are heavily betting on gameplay, like Super Stardust Ultra, Hustle Kings VR, Headmaster, RIGS Mechanized Combat League and Eve: Valkyrie, Here They Lie serves as a perfect counterargument, a more narrative-driven example of what VR is capable of, a game that puts atmosphere and immersion in the driving seat.
VR is, after all, about transporting us more effectively to distant worlds, and Here They Lie feels 'real' (for lack of a better word). It comes off as a genuine horror game, despite its obvious lack of interaction. There's a sort of heading, there's design and it all feels and looks amazing.
Most importantly, Here They Lie is scary, and not just a little bit... it's absolutely horrifying. That's a direct result of the game world not having any rules. You're constantly surprised by the various diabolical creatures you meet along the way, and the game always seems to one up itself, and because of this lack of a defined design manual, you're always on your toes. Furthermore, the game is linear, and because of this, scares can be perfectly timed, and the timing is spot on here. Lighting and especially music (and the lack thereof in certain situations) is used to push every adrenaline-pumping scenario to the absolute maximum, and that ranges from a mysterious, masked stranger observing you from a distance, to a Gollum-like creature hissing and running at you directly. Here They Lie uses the power of its world to great effect, and the balance between its creepy atmosphere and the intense jump scares works superbly.
It comes across as a culmination of H.P. Lovecraft, The Shining and even a bit of Jacob's Ladder, and all of these inspirations are combined into a limiting but sensational and functional experience, one that grabs a hold of you from beginning and doesn't let go until you hit the end. It's only a couple of hours long (maybe three if you take your time), and there's little reason to go back, but the experience is what counts here, and if you didn't know about Here They Lie before now, you may want to add it to your list of potential VR purchases.
8 / 10
Excellent atmosphere, Properly scary, Great solution to locomotion.
Some may find lack of interaction annoying, Little to no replayabillity.