There are a few different types of levels of enjoyment when it comes to story-based horror games. There’s the good that leaves you happy and content, the so bad it’s good and the plain and simple, well that was just bad. Paper Dolls has found itself on a level that most games aim to achieve, and that is the “what did I just play?”. Although, that is not always necessarily a good thing.
You play as an unnamed man driving his daughter to see her mother. Along the way, the car crashes and you awake in a haunted oriental mansion. Your daughter wanders off, so you are forced to traverse this mansion of ancient horrors to find her and by all means, escape.
In Paper Dolls, you are equipped with nothing more than a flashlight and your wits. As you progress through the game you must solve puzzles while learning of the eerie history along the way. There is no way to fight off any of the spirits (aside from a few quick-time events), so stealth becomes highly important to make it through the game. The only way to be rid of the ghastly haunting ghouls is to banish them. To do so, you must learn of and acquire their most treasured item, possess a sacred dagger and find their life-sized paper doll dwelling somewhere within the mansion.
The intensity of the game definitely does increase the deeper you plunge into the unending horrific nightmare that has attached itself to the mansion. The closer you are to the end, the more you forget to breathe.
The atmosphere definitely plays an important role in the overall experience. You go through nearly the entirety of the game without a single musical note. All you have are your steps, creaky interactions with the doors and other objects and ghastly sounds from the spooks that hunt you down. The absence of any music creates high notes of the eerie atmosphere.
Last but certainly not least, the ending. I have never been so baffled by an ending that left me with no words but just questions. If you’ve played this game before, you know exactly what I’m getting at. For those of you who haven’t played, it’s something you will have to experience for yourself.
The storyline is pretty standard and basic. There’s nothing really too unique about it. Also, I would like to note that intro into the story makes no lick of sense. Because you know, all car crashes end with transporting you into some oriental ghost story inside of a mansion that you’re obviously were nowhere near in any form. Another gripe I have with the story is that you completely lose sight of why you’re there in the first place. Why was I here again? Oh, that’s right, to find my daughter who I have not seen or heard from since the beginning of the game and there is no mention of her since, not even when you reach the end of the game. Daughter who?
The visual can not compare to what this game is meant to be and how it appears on other platforms. On consoles such as Xbox One and PS4, and for the PC, the graphics are absolutely stunning. It left me wondering what happened?
Paper Dolls decides that within the last minute of the game to finally play music in an attempt to add to the intensity. This turns out to be an epic and quite a hilarious flop.
As for the English voice acting, don’t even get me started on that one. The voice acting is simply terrible and is good for nothing more than a good chuckle which destroys the atmosphere. It most likely would have been a whole lot better in the native language with subtitles.
One function that irritated the daylights out of me is the running mechanics. You literally go just a few steps while running and you become completely winded. Just a few steps! There is no real point to being able to run at all. Sure it drives up the intensity but can become utterly frustrating.
Paper Dolls has a lot going for it. It can be very eerie and intense. It is puzzling but is also confusing in different aspects. The problem is that on the Switch, the stunning graphics are dumbed down to what you would expect on an early PS2 game. Also, the voice acting, running mechanic and plot holes in the story really bring down what this game is meant to be. Paper Dolls is a game that deserves maybe one playthrough for fun, but for the best experience you can get from this game, I would do it on a different platform.