Tormented Souls is an homage to the great survival horror games of old. If you’ve been missing the classics like early Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark this might be the game you’re looking for. The game begins with Caroline Walker receiving a strange letter from Winterlake Hospital about some twins. Bizarrely she decides to go investigate the strange, abandoned mansion turned hospital. Caroline arrives and is knocked out, awakening naked in a bathtub. The game unnecessarily indulges in some gratuitous nudity at this point with a lengthy cutscene.
The hospital is empty save for the creepiest priest to ever appear in a videogame and an array of creatures; mixed human and machine grotesque monsters, that will attack when they see you. From here the plot is mostly predictable. Especially if you’re familiar with the survival horror genre of games. While this is a little disappointing; the real joy of the game is the journey, exploring the dark and creepy hospital.
You can see the care and attention the developers put into this environment. It has an eerie blend of Victorian gothic architecture and modern hospital facilities long abandoned. This is well showcased with the fixed camera the game uses. The camera will track Caroline as she walks around from a variety of angles. Some more cinematic than I expected. This not only added to the tensions and scare factor when you literally couldn’t see around the corner, but it certainly gives it flair.
Controls and Combat
The controls can be frustrating at times because they change with the camera angles. In addition, you get some very traditional ‘cursor moving’ point-and-click style interaction. The more you explore and interact with the environment the more you get used to it; but there is a learning curve there before navigating feels comfortable. Saving the game requires finding a videotape and going to a save point in the game’s world; this only increases the terror as if you die, you restart the game unless you’ve done this. As you would expect with a survival horror game Tormented Souls requires a lot of backtracking as you learn more, obtain more useful items and need to take different paths to new areas. The hospital is, however, so creepy that this never felt anything other than uneasy as you wonder what might leap out at you.
Combat is simple in this game, and in all honesty feels like an afterthought. Those creatures while grotesque and scary looking are all similar in how they attack you. Similarly, there are no real bosses to speak of so combat becomes quickly forgettable next to exploration and puzzle solving.
The puzzles is where Tormented Souls really stands out though. They are the perfect balance of challenge without requiring a notebook and pen next to you to write down everything. This felt spot on when playing and can be really satisfying when you do solve it without becoming frustrating. Lighting also plays a key part in this, especially in the beginning when all you have is a lighter; if you remain in the shadows too long you die resulting in a game over. Combining this with creatures or other blockades as another layer of challenge to navigating around the creepy hospital.
Save for a few minor graphical glitches my biggest gripe with the game is the cheesy and over-the-top voice acting. In places it really does detract from the survival horror nature of Tormented Souls.
Should I buy Tormented Souls?
As an indie game Tormented Souls is never going to reach Bloodborne or Resident Evil level of polish but that’s ok. Despite its lower end graphics (compared to the latest titles on current generation, and even last generation consoles) it holds up. It holds up because it plays on that nostalgia for the survival horror games of old. You will be caught out by the shock scares and general creepiness while solving some well crafted puzzles in a stunning envrionment.
Tormented Souls is a solid play… but maybe leave the lights on!