Tormented Souls Preview
Horror is a little like humor. What scares someone is as particular as what makes them laugh. That said, there are some universal shiver-inducing, dread and scream-generating environments and events, like creepy darkened hallways, disembodied voices and abandoned hospitals. Or waking up nude in a bathtub, with a medical device pumping you full of fluids and discovering you’re missing an eye. Yeah, that would probably do it.
Tormented Souls is a third person puzzle/horror/action title that is obviously influenced by games such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Amnesia and several others. Without much of a preamble, lead character Caroline Walker sets off to investigate the origin of an anonymous photo of twin girls she received from a place called Wildberger Hospital. Arriving in the dead of night, when an abandoned mansion-turned-evil hospital is at its creepiest, Caroline is almost immediately struck down, only to wake in the aforementioned tub and absent a peeper.
Without spoiling anything to follow, you can probably guess that the game tracks Caroline as she explores the hospital’s labyrinthine collection of rooms, halls and secret areas, attempting to piece together the mystery of the twin girls as well as what happened to her. There are lots of puzzles to solve, items and weapons to craft, and several varieties of vaguely or once-human monstrosities to fight. There are jump scares and of course the game’s visuals and music are leaden with tension-inducing music and disturbing imagery. These kinds of games rely heavily on tone and Tormented Souls does a good job in that department, filling the frame with the clutter of a mysteriously abandoned mansion that is obviously the home of many disturbing secrets.
New Game Old School
Mechanically, Tormented Souls feels a little old school, ignoring some of the streamlined puzzle solving and exploration mechanics of recent games like Resident Evil 8. Although Caroline finds maps along the way, there is no mini-map in game to help with exploration and orientation. Is it fun to have to adjust a wrench multiple times to hold a bolt just so. or is it annoyingly fiddly? Your mileage may vary on your tolerance for these things, but in general the puzzle solutions aren’t too arcane or illogical and the game generally just highlights items that will be important later on. Except when it doesn’t. Like just about every piece of horror or mystery entertainment, suspension of disbelief will be a constant companion.
There is no mistaking Tormented Souls for a big-budget game with bleeding edge graphics, but it plays to its strengths and the lighting is effective, the environments are cluttered and claustrophobic, and the sound design adds the right amount of creep factor. Every room has a bit of loading time, and there are a lot of rooms. Caroline narrates her story and the voice work is good, though sometimes the story feels far too streamlined and missing a layer or two of nuance. Between the nudity, violence, gore, and psychological distress, Tortured Souls is a mature-focused game for sure.
Tormented Souls is competing in a crowded genre of often excellent horror/puzzle/survival games, but there’s always room for a newcomer, a new creepy story, and a variation on the classic unfolding-horror tale. After all, every roller coaster goes up and then down, people scream or puke and then excitedly move on to the next coaster. The specific twists and turns are what makes a ride interesting and the same is true of horror. There’s always something hiding under the bed or in the closet…or in that big, creepy mansion that no one ever leaves, at least intact.
***PC preview code supplied by the publisher***
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.
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