Paper Dolls: Original has promise. A first-person horror game steeped in Eastern culture. One that combines puzzle solving, exploration and scares. The end result though is lacklustre and disappointing yet it isn’t a terrible game.
Originally a VR title released last year, the game begins with a man and his daughter getting into a bad car crash. When the man wakes, he finds himself inside a run-down and eerie house. His daughter is missing and he has to find her…but this house has dark secrets.
Utilising the familiar ‘run and hide’ mechanic that a lot of modern first-person horrors utilise, Paper Dolls: Original isn’t doing anything new gameplay wise. If you’ve played a lot of these games before, you’ll feel right at home here.
Explore, hide from dangerous ghosts, find keys to unlock doors and solve puzzles to put the spirits of the house to rest. It all sounds pretty good but Paper Dolls: Original just doesn’t manage to get the balance right. For starters, exploration is frustrating and the puzzles will often stop you dead in your tracks with no clear indication of how to progress. You’ll be backtracking constantly and getting lost as the game’s map just isn’t very good.
It’s so frustrating. Made all the worse when enemies begin to show up. Which brings us to the worst thing about the game.
There are a couple of different types of enemies. One that works as a jump-scare requiring you to hammer a button to escape her grip. The first time she appears it’s effective… the 5th time, a chore. In fact, this interaction happens so often, it occurred three times in a row when we were playing.
Then we have the roaming ghosts. The ones you have to hide from. Get grabbed and it’s instant death and in a really surprising turn, the game doesn’t utilise auto-save. You need to physically save it every time otherwise you’ll lose a fairly large chunk of play-time. So very old-school…
It’s not all bad though. Paper Dolls: Original looks great, it really does. The house is creepy, the ghosts horrifying and even the sound effects heighten the tension when you’re hiding from possible death. It nails the Eastern culture feel and its story is interesting.
The length of the game varies depending on how well you can puzzle solve. Your first play without a guide or anything could take anywhere between 4-8 hours. Your second? Less then 2 if you’re really quick. It does have replay value with a couple of different difficulties, collectibles and more but it’s more likely that one play is all you’re going to want to do here.
Paper Dolls: Original
The Final Score - 6/10