Tormented Souls is a new survival horror game that takes inspiration from the right places. It’s a spooky game in which you explore a deserted mansion that’s been used as a hospital, and everything is exactly as it seems. While it might derivative of Resident Evil or Silent Hill, it actually takes the best of both worlds and brings them together to create something any survival horror fan can enjoy.
There’s a lot that we thought was quite good in Tormented Souls, but purely from the view of a survival horror fan. If you don’t like being scared by games or solving obscure puzzles, this probably isn’t for you. The game’s story isn’t fantastic, but it’s more set dressing for the game’s real meat, the combat, puzzle-solving, and inventory management.
Enemies are slow and noisy, and you’ve got to decide whether it’s worth killing them or trying to get around them in almost every room. Fixed camera angles are a brilliant touch, though they’re just as awkward as they’ve ever been. Thanks to some beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds though, the scenery looks good from all angles, even while you’re darting around confusedly.
Each encounter is made more stressful by the clunky inventory system. You’ve got to press several buttons before you find what you need, and even then, you might end up missing a shot. In addition, enemies are sneaky and will try to trick you into thinking they’re dead before getting a few quick slashes in. It’s an extra layer of horror, but it does get tiresome after a while.
The star of the show is definitely the puzzle-solving and atmosphere. The game manages to keep the levels of dread high enough that opening any door feels stressful. Whether you’re checking corners for enemies or finding random items that you’re certain will come in handy later for a puzzle, there’s no point at which you feel comfortable stopping. This is a game you’ll want to finish in one sitting, and that doesn’t come around often.
What’s not so good?
While Tormented Souls is brilliant because it leans on classic survival horror tropes, it also suffers because of them. For example, the fixed camera angles don’t account for the controls, meaning you can end up spinning and switching between views without knowing what’s going on. The same clunkiness is found in the inventory management system, though this is likely intentional and has a certain charm.
Standing in the dark for too long causes you to die. At no point does the game explain this, and it’s extremely frustrating the first time it happens. We also experienced one instance where an enemy trapped us against an object and killed us, losing an hour or so of progress.
While we enjoy the save mechanic, which requires you to use tape reels found around the mansion, we can tell that many people won’t. There’s a reason this system isn’t commonplace, and it’s going to be one of the toughest barriers to entry that new players will face.
Finally, the game’s voice acting and graphics aren’t polished or hyper-realistic. The developers were going for a very specific style, and part of that is a certain level of plasticity in character models and deliberately terrible narration. It works well as long as you realize this, but most probably won’t.