Looking for a few new scares this holiday season? No Way Out – A Dead Realm Tale may be the virtual reality (VR) game you’re looking for. Whether you like watching others get scared in VR, or enjoy immersing yourself in a scary world where everything is out to get you and you’ve no choice but to push forward, Section Studios and 3BLACKDOT promise “a spine-tingling twist on the haunted house genre.”
A Mansion Revisited
As the game’s full name implies, No Way Out – A Dead Realm Tale takes place in the Dead Realm universe. This was a briefly popular PC-only game released by Section Studios and 3BLACKDOT back in 2015; most of that game took place within the grounds of the mansion of a “long-dead electricity tycoon.” No Way Out presumably takes place in the same mansion, but in such a way that you can only explore the inside of it. William Huxley was the owner of this mansion, and rumors have been swirling about some unclaimed treasure hidden within its walls. A lot of the story’s details are given from a radio that plays newscasts in the room where the whole game starts, not that this is required knowledge in order to enjoy the game.
Now, while No Way Out is technically a game, it’s more akin to a haunted house. You are given a map and shown exactly where you need to go. There are no inventory screens, no weapons, and no means with which to defend yourself. Your goal is to simply walk from point A to point B. Control is achieved with a DualShock 4, and R2 enables a slightly faster walking speed. It’s still a ridiculously slow walking speed, but it is slightly faster. Perhaps due to the use of VR, movement is purposefully restricted to a slow speed, but No Way Out features perhaps the slowest walking speed of any first-person game. (Editor’s Note: Have you played Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture?)
If you approach No Way Out as a haunted house, then you’ll have more realistic expectations. It’s designed to startle you at certain, specific spots, and once you memorize these, you’ll know what to expect. There is really only one enemy in the whole game, an apparition that walks around in the dark, along with a clown whose appearance is never explained in the story. Simply walking the wrong direction is enough to cause a game over, and unfortunately, the only way to figure out which direction is the right one is trial and error. The mansion isn’t too large, though, so it doesn’t take too many failures to figure things out. Still, having a fail state tacked on to what feels like a haunted house can be frustrating since the scare factor is removed once a scenario has been failed before.
No Way Out - A Dead Realm Tale Review - Slowly Creeping (PS4) | PSLS
Frustrations aside, the ambiance of No Way Out is well done for a haunted house. Occasional footsteps in the distance, or rat scurrying about suddenly, or a muffled scream all sound more intense than they otherwise might in a non-VR setting. VR is just a naturally intensifying way to experience games, so although the actual scare factor of No Way Out might be low as it only relies on jump scares, simply being in VR makes it all more intense by default. The handful of puzzles that are in the roughly hour-long game use a combination of head tracking and pressing the cross button to confirm actions, which works better than you’d expect. Yes, you read that right, No Way Out is short, at just an hour in length.
No Way Out – A Dead Realm Tale is a game you play for others to enjoy watching your reaction to. The haunted house theme is fun, but it could have done better without tacked-on gamification. Simply pushing the player back a few feet when they veered off the intended path would have done much to relieve frustration. At $19.99, it’s also not an impulse buy. So, unless you absolutely love the horror genre, or really enjoy watching others jump as a VR game scares them, perhaps catching the game during a holiday sale might make it an easier purchase.
No Way Out – A Dead Realm Tale review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.