ReviewsReview: Tormented Souls

Review: Tormented Souls

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With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time to prepare for the cold weather, trick or treat, and an unhealthy level of scary moments. With horror spanning many platforms, your scary experience can come in many forms. Yet, I love to lose myself in a great video game. Tormented Souls is the latest title to test my nerve and this old-school inspired affair will send shivers down your spine.

Developed by Dual Effect and Abstract Digital and published by PQube, this is a classic horror game set in a cliched but brilliant location. Whenever you get your hands on a scary title, you want to feel on edge throughout. Fortunately, Tormented Souls will scare you senseless and you’ll need a change of underwear before you finish each playthrough.

Tormented Souls wears its influences on its sleeve.

Proudly highlighting your influences is not a bad thing, especially when they have cult status. Tormented Souls is so proud of its inspiration that it openly wear them on its sleeve. Every element of this wonderful horror puzzle title can be linked to the genre-leading games of the PS1. Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, and Silent Hill can be seen in the puzzles, the creepy rooms, and the horrific foes you face.

You may worry that this will simply be a ripoff of these much-loved games. Believe me, its unique storyline and blend of mechanics makes Tormented Souls an excellent addition to the genre in its own right and I loved its spine-tingling ways.

Stay away from the shadows.

A cliched story, but who cares!

Normally, I want a thorough story that isn’t tired or cliched. However, I wasn’t so bothered by its generic “spooky” storyline because many of the other elements were fantastic. I forgave its dated plot and focussed on the many jump scares and challenging puzzles I experienced.

You control Caroline Walker, a young woman who is haunted by the image of twin girls. The game opens with her receiving an envelope containing a postcard adorned with a photo of the twins. From here, her life sadly takes a turn for the worse. Unable to get them out of her mind, Caroline goes to the hospital located in an abandoned mansion to search for the answers to her many questions. This is a big mistake and the start of the many horrors she is about to witness. Entering this hellish building has dire consequences, but once she starts this journey, Caroline can’t turn back until her questions are answered.

I warned you, this is a classic creepy game.

The labyrinthine mansion, limited hints, puzzles to solve, and items to combine, will have retro gamers champing at the bit. Its classic setting is spooky as hell and is only made worse when you step into the shadows. A creature lurks in the dark and is desperate for you to step closer, but fortunately, a handy Zippo lighter keeps them at bay and illuminates the way.

If the creepy shadows and claustrophobic rooms don’t make you soil yourself, maybe the horrific monsters you face will. Being chased by experimental creatures with only a nail gun to defend yourself is no laughing matter. You must decide whether to run or fight! If you win, you can breathe a sigh of relief, but if you die, it’s game over. The survival elements are brutally unfair and losing your progress is guaranteed, so you must be wise in how you take on each encounter.

Would you dare to eat here?

Puzzles and limited save points.

Being scared senseless is part and parcel of this horror genre. In Tormented Souls, it accompanies everything, but it isn’t the main concept. The developers want you to focus on exploration, puzzles, and the survival elements. The latter is key as save points are limited, and you must find a tape player and a reel of tape to record your progress. Though I hated losing everything, I loved how it kept you on edge, knowing that one mistake would cost you everything.

Exploration and solving each puzzle went hand in hand. The solution to many problems wasn’t simply found in the room or surrounding areas. This forces you to push further into the mansion and remember each task and their locations. This becomes increasingly difficult when monsters are chasing you and fresh puzzles are introduced. The logic-based problems were extremely rewarding to solve, as there were many Eureka moments.

What was equally glorious was how dark and twisted the story becomes the further you progress. The water becomes muddier and the reasonings behind the twisted tale doesn’t become clear for some time. This may annoy some players, but I loved the mysterious albeit weird ways that combined beautifully with the risk of losing it all.

Tormented Souls incorporates brilliantly dated aesthetics.

In the correct setting, wooden acting can work perfectly well. When a game is trying to deliver a retro aesthetic, this almost laughable approach is acceptable. I loved the poorly timed delivery and the lack of emotion as this enhanced the action, giving it a cold and heartless tone. When this was combined with the classic horror soundtrack of sharp noises, extended silences, and distant footsteps, you are thoroughly creeped out throughout.

The brilliant audio supports the polished PS1 graphics. This old-school style may be wasted on a top-end PC or next-gen consoles, but I loved it and the look it achieved. The use of greyer tones and smaller spaces enhances the claustrophobic feeling that surrounds every aspect of the gameplay. I appreciate the older style won’t appeal to all, but I think it works brilliantly and is a nod to the market-leading games of the past.

Such a creepy, yet fascinating place.

I wanted it to be more responsive.

When a game expects you to act quickly to avoid enemies, you want the controls to be super responsive. Sadly, Tormented Souls hasn’t read the memo! Its occasionally clunky controls will leave you desperately floundering around while avoiding your foes. I’m perhaps exaggerating slightly, but I wanted the controls to be more responsive. However, there were moments where I had to spam the action button to ensure anything happened and subsequently, this made it frustrating and less immersive.

No matter how many times you experience the same horrific moments, it never gets old. I relived numerous scenes just to jump at the same point repeatedly. This was great, as I worried it wouldn’t have the same impact the second time around. Yet, it’s scary as hell every time you play it and this was great for its longevity. This is supported further still by its large achievement list that requires multiple playthroughs to complete.

Tormented Souls is a classic horror game that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Revisiting tried and tested mechanics can be tricky to get right. Gamers complain about the lack of originality, or the developers just get it wrong. Fortunately, though, Tormented Souls has the blend just right and its nod to much-loved games is mixed beautifully with its unique approach to the genre. I loved it and it shouldn’t be overlooked, so I recommend you to buy it here! Can you solve the mystery surrounding the twins? Stay calm, avoid the monsters, and solve every puzzle in this wonderfully old-school horror title.

SUMMARY

Caroline Walker should have stayed at home. Curiosity killed the cat, but now it may kill a human. Solve the puzzles, avoid your enemies, and explore the labyrinthine mansion. It's a wonderful nod to old-school horror games and one that's bound to be a hit with retro gamers.

+ Polished but dated graphics.
+ Creepy level design.
+ Old-school audio.
+ A wonderful twist on retro mechanics.
+ It will make you jump repeatedly.
+ Lots of replay value.
- The controls are lacking.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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