Horror is not the genre for me. I’ve never been a fan of the jump scares and the dark rooms and the ominous atmosphere whether it be in games or films. But the experience, virtual though it may be, of exploring a foreboding mansion filled with bloodied medical equipment and monsters borne of experimentation and the supernatural is a visceral one that does appeal to our lizard brains. The effect oy in being scared witless while knowing that nothing will happen to you is an interesting feeling.
Tormented Souls wears its inspiration on its sleeve – the classic survival horror games of the ‘90s especially Resident Evil. Like that game you are tasked with exploring a spooky mansion. You start the game having received an invitation to investigate the disappearance of twins at Winterlake mansion. On arrival you are promptly knocked out only to awake in a bathtub with an eye plucked out of your skull for some reason. Once you gather yourself, your task begins – solve the mystery of the missing twins and more importantly survive.
Hearkening back to the classics, exploration is key. Finding locked doors, bits of lore and clues scattered around the mansion and eventually maps to help guide you. Each room you explore has the potential to halt your progress as the puzzles test your observation skills and your recall. These puzzles were the aspect of the game design that most attracted me to the game and quite frankly kept me playing through the scary bits. Reminding me of the insanely difficult, obtuse but ultimately rewarding puzzles in that other staple of the ‘90s, the Point and Click adventure game, these puzzles provided the impetus to keep pushing to find that next maddening puzzle solution. Having only ever played Resident Evil on a friend’s PSOne in high school I can’t attest to how these puzzles fare against both the ones in that game and in the modern game, but for fans of brain teasers, this will provide a satisfying experience.
Another classic mechanic is the locked room. You will encounter several locked rooms on your journey that you will have to revisit once you solve a puzzle of find a key later in the game. Not only does this type of design extend the length of the game without requiring the designers to build a gigantic map, openworld game designers please take note, but it rewards the player for their patience and exploration. It also heightens the tension because your mind cannot help but start to speculate on what may or may not be behind that door.
While the atmosphere is creepy enough it would get a bit stale without enemies to run away from and occasionally fight against. Thankfully you will face enemies and you will have the tools to deal with them. Unfortunately, your tools may not have enough ammo to keep you alive. This is not the game to play if you have poor aim or believe in killing something until it is deader than dead. Ammo for your nail gun, a weak but rapid-fire weapon is scarce and don’t get me started on the lack of ammo on for the wonderfully powerful shotgun which also takes ages to reload so make damn sure you hit and kill your enemies. This resource management mini game is vital to your success as later in the game you may need those extra nails or shotgun shells to deal with the stronger enemies. Don’t spray and pray, pray and take careful aim.
The atmosphere in the game is enhanced by the visuals, an effective use of dark and muted tones in the colour palette. Playing this on my 5th Gen i7 and GTX 1080 the game and lighting positively popped off the screen creating the tension and as you wondered what was down that passageway, hiding in that shadow and around the corner. Lighting plays the role you would expect creating deep pools of darkness where required, making your lighter that can’t be equipped at the same time as a weapon and effective security blanket. In these dark areas you either must run or find an area that is at least dimly lit so you can switch to a weapon to defend yourself. Hold onto that lighter, it will make entering new areas a little less anxiety inducing.
Tormented Souls is not an experience that I will be repeating soon, but that’s because I’m a wuss. For fans of survival horror, this will scratch that itch until the DLC for Resident Evil Village drops or that long rumoured Silent Hill project finally arrives.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Dual Effect, Abstract Digital
Purchase the version you want at https://pqube.co.uk/tormented-souls/
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