The survival horror genre has had its ups and downs. It seems like there’s an endless stream of games heavily influenced by classics of the genre, but none quite get it right. Tormented Souls from developer Dual Effect and Abstract Digital wear these influences on their sleeves. However, the developer has expectations that the player knows how to navigate the genre and has the amplitude to handle some truly creepy situations.
As strange as it is for me to say, Tormented Souls takes a very mature approach to the survival horror genre. The game’s flimsy premise and campy dialogue doesn’t weigh on the player to have a firm understanding of the situation to progress. Instead, exploration is key, and players are free to dive into the lore and explore every inch of this Winterlake mansion.
Players assume the role of Caroline. After a strange photo was sent to her, she finds herself on a journey to discover the whereabouts of two missing girls. No, she doesn’t bring back up or call the cops; that would be too easy. No, Caroline simply puts on the cutest dress she can find and break into the scariest mansion in the world. If that’s not badass, I don’t know what is. However, moments in, she gets knocked out and wakes up in a bathtub without an eye. Now, the adventure can truly begin.
Playing Tormented Souls feels like I’m playing an HD Remake of one of the earlier Resident Evil titles. The game’s environment and atmosphere are almost identical, causing me to double-take some of the halls and rooms.
It’s not a blatant copy, though, as the developer seems to put a lot more trust in the player than any RE game I’ve played before. Unfortunately, there are very few accessibility options when it comes to solving puzzles or navigation. Further, there are no difficulty options, so expect to die on a first playthrough. I’d also like to point out that there are no autosave features, and saves are tied to audio tapes that you find around the mansion.
I accepted this challenge and ran with it, but I know some might not be accustomed to being lost in a game for an hour only to find out that the answer is right in front of you. Similarly, hints are found in writings found around the mansion and by interacting with objects. Sadly, I think the file management for writings found could use some work if only to make it easier to sort by the newest entry.
Another feature has to do with insanity when in the dark. Caroline has a lighter to see in dark situations, but she can’t hold a weapon and do this simultaneously. Turning on the lights is sometimes the only way to take down enemies and survive a freak-out. However, I would like to have a quick lighter button to switch from weapon to lighter without going into the menu. It would just make things a lot easier.
As it stands, Tormented Souls is an awesome experience for long-time survival horror fans. However, those not used to the genre may want to dabble in one of the Resident Evil remakes before playing just to prepare for the terrifying mind-f**k that this game is. Post-game unlockables are said to be present, but you’ll have to get past dozens of monsters, a Silent Hill-esque alternate universe, head-scratching puzzles, and a very helpful but sus priest to get there. As it stands, I’m totally ready to tackle this nightmare.
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