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OVRDARK: a Do Not Open story

Developer / Publisher – NoxNoctis / Unreality
Price – US $19.99 / CAN $24.99 / EU €19.99 / UK £16.99
Release Date – March 29th, 2024
Input – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area –  Seated, Standing, Roomscale
Store – PlayStation, Steam
Reviewed on – PSVR 2

I don’t play a ton of flat games, and none of those are horror titles so needless to say, I avoided Do Not Open when it released as the announcement that a VR version was coming had me much more excited than playing on a TV.  VR makes just about any genre better with first-person horror titles arguably benefitting the most from the medium though as the original Do Not Open releasing to mixed reviews, I was a little leery going into this though I’m happy to report that, for the most part, this is a solid horror puzzler.

Your objectives are much more simple than they sound!

So the gaming trope of having the player navigate a creepy mansion has been a tried and tested setup since nearly the dawn of the genre so for those looking for a change of pace here, well, that’s not going to happen, but that’s not a bad thing.  Honestly, the mansion feels like it belongs more in the Resident Evil series that anything else with some crazy rooms utilizing complex switches, weird keys and elaborate puzzles that will require careful exploration to ensure important items aren’t missed. As George Foster, you arrive at the mansion in search of your friend and his family though the opening (and quite brutal) cutscene let’s you know that all did not end well in the household.  Comfort options are limited to seated or standing play & smooth or click-turning though you’ll need to adjust these at the main menu as you can’t change much once you’ve started playing outside of turning off subtitles…which was a little annoying until I found my perfect turn speed.  You’ll also be saving at tape recorders scattered around the not so humble abode and I’d advise you to save every time you pass one.

If you pass a tape recorder, it’s best to save your progress.

The narrative plays out in a relatively linear fashion with major objectives appearing on screen in large text, though outside of those rather vague directions, you are free to explore the mansion at your leisure and unlock its various mysteries.  Many doors are locked and thus guide you to specific areas that will almost always contain the next item you need to unlock a door or access a new area.  It’s unfortunate then that locating these items can be troublesome and while many are painfully obvious thanks to their size or how they are revealed, others, like a small hanging key, can be very easy to miss and cost me a fair bit of time as I wandered around aimlessly looking for said errant “thing” I knew I had passed in my wandering.  This is also made worse by how non-interactive the mansion can be with most, but not all, things being just decoration.  Drawers, cupboards and most errant items like TV’s VCR’s & books can’t be touched but closets can be opened, candlestick & cans can be grabbed making it sort of a guessing game when it comes to what you should be touching.  It’s fairly easy to tell what you should be grabbing but with bonus items hidden throughout the story that aren’t identified by a reticle, it can be a little annoying to have hands hit invisible walls or pass though geometry.  My last major gripe would be the grip function as I fumbled throughout the entire story to grab at just about anything with one particular puzzle requiring me to spin multiple dials to specific positions which was nothing short of madness as my hands seemed to want to spin anywhere but where I intended.  Despite these issues, I did persevere to the games dramatic conclusion so I did adapt to these less then immersive controls, but they are there and unless they get fixed, they will get in your way as well.

The inventory system is clunky, but it gets the job done.

Outside of exploration and grabbing at stuff is a pop-up inventory system that displays any key items you have grabbed on a floating grid that is usable enough, though if you are too close to the environment, it won’t show up until you back away from whatever may be blocking it.  The one (almost) constant is your flashlight which will be at your right hip and can be grabbed at anytime, illuminating the way too dark mansion and it does an excellent job at ramping up that creep factor.  As this is a haunted house…for lack of a better term, there will be scripted moments where your light will fail, an entity may appear and you’ll need to keep your head and hands perfectly still lest they be alerted to your presence and kill you.  A disgusting mold also plagues the house with certain rooms being inaccessible early on as exposure to the spores in the air can cause a quick death.  There are also cigarettes and energy drinks that can be found with the former depleting your stamina while latter increases it so unless there’s some special benefit to smoking, just like in real life, it’s better if you don’t. Lastly will be your cellphone, which helps push the story along thanks to incoming calls from your girlfriend whose advice should be heeded, but typically falls on deaf ears making for a title that mixes things up enough to keep me on my toes as I never knew what the game was going to throw at me next.

If you see him move very, very slowly

It only takes mere minutes before you start seeing things that shouldn’t be possible and thankfully, outside of some pop-in and weird reflections on glass, what’s here looks pretty damned good and makes for some decent tension and successful scares.  Despite the lack of interactivity, the mansion looks lived in, and it becomes clear very quick that something wicked happened here prior to your arrival.  It’s old, worn down and clearly designed by a nut job but it all works within the narrative with almost every room upping the creep factor be it freaky old pictures, blood stains or general disarray which is all made better by some awesome dynamic lighting.  Your flashlight is your best friend with nearly every piece of furniture casting deep shadows when shone upon, adding a wonderful sense of foreboding realism…especially in rooms bathed in pitch blackness.  You don’t see too many character models in here, but when they do show up, it’s a little unfortunate that they don’t look quite as good as the environment, but they don’t look bad and still look freaky enough to give their jump scares some weight.  There’s a lot to like when it comes to the presentation and horror fans should be more than happy with what’s on display.  On the PSVR 2 side of things I did find the visuals to be a tad on the blurry side but soon forgot about that once the spooks started happening and, in my play, I didn’t notice much in the way of reprojection.

Some rooms are normal…others are much more unnerving.

For myself, the audio design falters a bit compared to the visuals and what’s here is serviceable but flawed.  For starters there is some great use of spatial audio making every noise a little unnerving as they often sounded like they were coming from just out of sight but on the flip side, the same random “spooky” noises occurred a little too often, removing much of their impact.  Music takes a backseat to the ambient noises of the house, the ghouls you come across and triggered events, only popping up during the more dramatic scenes which I did appreciate as the lone sounds of my footsteps in a relatively silent house were unsettling.  The voice work here is also ‘just alright’ and while I have heard much, much worse, some of the delivery was a little underwhelming at times and didn’t quite reflect what was happening, though admittedly this is also something that plagues many horror games.

If he catches you, you’re done for.

I did appreciate the use of PSVR 2’s haptics as it was nice to feel the rumble of my heartbeat in my head & hands during more intense moments and during those sections where I needed to stay perfectly still.  In those sections, any significant movement elicited a slight rumble, letting me know I had to keep still or face dying.

Despite being unfamiliar with the 1st game, I had a fair bit of fun with OVRDARK as it provided a nice balance between exploration, puzzle solving and scares. It has its issues, but none of them are game breaking and most are easy to avoid once I got used to what the game expected from me. With a 4-to-5-hour story, I’d recommend this for the asking price to anyone looking to scratch that horror itch and aren’t adverse to a puzzle or 2, just make sure you keep those expectations in check and you’ll have fun time.

Noxnoctis provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!


  • Solid presentation
  • Engaging and clever puzzles
  • You don't need to play the 1st game to enjoy this
  • Great use of haptics


  • Grabbing stuff can be tricky
  • It's not always clear what you should be grabbing
  • Random spooky noises occur too much


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