Title: Tormented Souls
Developer: Dual Effect, Abstract Digital
Release Date: August 27, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Genre: Survival Horror
The survival horror genre has been attempted by many, but the tried and true formula introduced by Resident Evil still reigns supreme. Though this has influenced other series to come, I don’t think any nail it as closely as the Dual Effect and Abstract Digital-developed Tormented Souls. The adventure is not without a few roadblocks, but I can assure you this is a must-play survival horror game for all fans.
Tormented Souls begins with a letter sent to our protagonist Caroline Walker. The contents of the note showed two twin girls being kept at Winterlake, and Caroline takes it upon herself to investigate. However, once she arrives at the Mansion turned hospital, she is knocked out and awakens naked in a bathtub. However, it would be great if that was the worst thing that happened to her, but sadly, she’s in for a nightmare.
The story defines campy horror as Caroline interacts with a sus priest who happens to be the only person around to answer her questions. I have to commend Caroline for even getting into this adventure in the first place. Sure, she’s smart, but her self-motivated attitude is tough to fully understand. You’re just supposed to believe that this is the type of person she is, and she’ll take on all the horrors and puzzles thrown at her in the cutest dress she owns.
The story becomes clearer as you collect clues and progress through the mansion, but I would have liked a prologue chapter where we get to see a day in Caroline’s life just to understand her more. There is voice acting for all the characters, but this just adds to the campy nature as the sentence structure is broken up, similar to the original Resident Evil.
Tormented Souls will challenge the player through puzzles and limited direction. The developers do everything they can to force players to experiment with unconventional means of interacting with the environment to push their understanding of the genre. Unfortunately, the puzzles can become obtuse in some moments as you run around in circles hoping to have an item that can help you progress. These puzzles will easily turn the 5 – 8 hour game into a 15-hour experience. I suggest playing without a guide, though, as the enemies don’t respawn, and there’s no time limit for exploration.
The developers created a map system that doesn’t really tell you where you are or which rooms you haven’t visited to further the confusion. They put so much onto the player to sell the experience that there’s no handholding in this adventure. Files and notes are found around the rooms, and they need to be read. Unlike Resident Evil, there’s no highlighted text to point out the important terms, so it’s up to you read them. Sadly, the organization of these notes is tough to understand as they are separated by type and then categorized in a strange order. I ended up finding my way after a while, but it felt like I was spending too much time on these menus.
Enemies in the game can be tough, but the game has an extremely helpful auto-aim feature. Your main weapon will be a nailgun, but you also can put together a shotgun later in the game. The developers had fun with the weapons, which was cool to see, as they weren’t the conventional guns from other titles. However, expect to die your first time through because some ranged enemies and stronger enemies can take you out in a matter of hit.
There is no auto-save in Tormented Souls, and saves are limited to the amount of audiotape you have. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot here, so use them sparingly. I loved this feature because it makes you take fewer chances and slow down, which isn’t so bad because of the gorgeous environment designs. Each room is well constructed to lead your eyes to points of interest, but I appreciated how each area told a story in its design and fit the overall tone of the adventure.
The game features a modernized static camera design that took some getting used to, but it didn’t take me long to feel like I was playing a classic survival horror. However, I feel like the developers didn’t utilize the button layout as much as they could. For example, I would have preferred a hotkey option to switch from the lighter and gun easier instead of switching them in the menu over and over. I also feel like Caroline being afraid of the dark, and the “other dimension” wasn’t fully realized, but that’s probably because I wanted them to affect the adventure a little more than they did.
Tormented Souls will test your resolve at all times during gameplay, but it presents a great survival horror experience. The soundtrack expertly matches the atmosphere, and the overall sound design makes you know when you’re walking into a bad situation as you hear enemies creeping closer.
Tormented Souls knows what it wants to be during each moment of gameplay, and that’s shown in its puzzles and deadly enemies. The developers prove they are fans of the genre as the game feels like it was created to even test their skills. The lack of direction works for what they are going for, but some elements just feel like they unnecessarily pad on the game’s runtime. Still, this game is gorgeous with genuine moments of survival horror. Caroline has what it takes to become a recognizable face in this beloved genre.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.