26/09/2021

๐Ÿ‘ป Tormented Souls | PS5 | Review | 8/10 | "Like Early Resident Evil" ๐Ÿ‘ป @PQubeGames #IndieGames #GameDev

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Before Tormented Souls, I had played two games this year where the developers’ goal has been to emulate early survival horror games such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill. One was bad, the other is my least favourite game of all time and contained design choices that still make me angry to this day.

I was very sceptical going into Tormented Souls, thinking that maybe this type of game should be left in the past, so I don’t have to watch my love and nostalgia being quickly eroded by games trying to recapture their spirit.

Luckily, I love Tormented Souls, it did exactly what it was supposed to do - first and foremost, allow me to enjoy the experience but also fired up my nostalgia and transported me back to the early days of survival horror.

The game opens with Caroline Walker, who gets a mysterious photo of twins that need her to come to Winterlake hospital, a mansion in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, she does the sensible thing - and rushes there without telling anyone.

So, Caroline arrives at the mansion and instantly gets knocked out, I’m not going to delve any deeper as this is where things get interesting. The rest of the plot has interesting moments and the narrative is mostly delivered by reading several of the diary entries laid around the mansion. There are some cut scenes, but they are very few and far between. Some of the twists in the game are so transparent I’m surprised the game tried to pull them off as twists, even from reading my brief description here, I’m sure one of the twists can already be worked out. 

The gameplay is what you would expect, the inventory looks exactly like early Resident Evil, the combat is like early Resident Evil, the controls are like… I’ll stop now, I’m sure you get the point. While saying it’s all similar, it is very enjoyable. The problems I had with the other two games mentioned at the beginning of this review were that they weren’t fun at all and the controls were horrendous.

These weren’t problems that I found with Tormented Souls, the tank controls were ok, the auto-aim on enemies was good and they add a mechanic where you can do a back step if enemies get too close, which was super helpful.

The puzzles in the game were some of my favourites in the genre, I was always intrigued and could mostly always work them out, which meant I wasn’t left wandering the mansion over and over, which - in a game like this is essential as there is a lot of backtracking already. The game uses inventory very well, you don’t run out of space and objects need to be examined carefully, as you can miss that some items need to be tinkered with. For example, the wrench has three settings and needs to be set to the right one and to use the fuel can, the cap needs to be removed first, I liked these touches a lot.

When you save the game, you save on tape recorders, which require tape reels to save. During certain saves Caroline will speak and relay what’s been happening, I thought that was cool and a nice added touch. The weapons are also solid, you have a nail gun which you find first, a shotgun (but it’s not a pump-action or double-barrelled it’s a homemade one, which is made from piping that holds only one shell). I liked these additions, not major changes, but these small nuances added up. 

The game does have negatives. The fixed camera angles are a pain in some places, it seems to be more concerned with looking at you instead of showing what is in front of you. I know the reasons for this, but it is still unhelpful and did get me killed a few times, it’s a hangover from the early games that probably does need to change. It also has another world you go into that’s scarier, filled with decay and rust - you know, like Silent Hill. I don’t know why they feel the need to be like every older survival horror game. You don’t spend too long in it but I don’t think it’s needed.

Also, towards the end of the game, you have this monster that can’t be killed following you everywhere – a’ la Mr X and Nemesis. It’s irritating as it feels really tacked on and when it’s revealed later what it actually is, it doesn’t make any sense at all. The ending boss fight and cut scene aren’t great, not terrible - but they are underwhelming.

 A couple of quick, final positives - the mansion is both visually stunning and very atmospheric and the sound design is a highlight. Both the eerie music and monster sound design is great, those two things combined made me feel really unsettled on several occasions. 

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