🎉 #SeriesX gamers, we have a surprise!
— PQube Indies (@PQubeIndies) September 7, 2021
Tormented Souls is a retro-inspired, survival horror akin to the likes of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, and perhaps even The Suffering thrown in for good measure. It’s more than just a throwback of yesteryear, but it’s a game that reminds us that there is life in this genre yet.
In Tormented Souls, you play Caroline Walker and at the start of her story, receives a mysterious letter containing a photo of two young twin girls. Curious about the letter, Caroline’s brief investigation leads her to an eerie mansion. However, Caroline discovers that this is no mere mansion, it’s a house of cruel experiments, a disturbing past, and tormented souls (yeah, I said it, come at me!).
In terms of gameplay, Tormented Souls will make retro survival horror fans feel right at home. It has fixed camera angles, which makes it easier for enemies to lurk behind every corner. It even has the old-school tank controls too. However, if tank controls are not for you, you can also control Caroline in 360 degrees with the analogue stick. Whichever way you choose to play, each works fantastic. If it wasn’t for my arthritic hands, tank controls would be my personal preference. Thankfully, for this reason, it’s easier for me to use the analogue stick.
Tormented Souls even has some well thought out puzzles, perhaps at times, I little to thought out. Though I appreciate being stuck in a survival horror game rattling my brain of how to beat a certain puzzle to progress. You can also expect a lot of backtracking in Tormented Souls. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m sure it’s an element that some old-school survival horror fans might appreciate.
Without giving too much away, Tormented Souls will also throw you into a parallel world, which reminded me a lot of Silent Hill. This factor not only cranked up the fear factor but it’s also utilised in a clever way to solve puzzles. Of course, enemies also play a huge role in Tormented Souls, and some are truly grotesque. A lot of the enemy design gave me The Suffering vibes. By the way, is anyone going to remake that game?
You’ll also have to manage your inventory and resources. Unlike some action-orientated horror games of today, going all guns blazing in Tormented Souls would be a grave mistake. You will need to find a fine balance of using your weapons such as the nail gun and shotgun and knowing when to use the crowbar as a melee weapon. Sometimes combining firearms and melee is the best way to go. Likewise, if you burn through your health items, you will come stuck later in the game.
Oh, and you won’t have an auto-save to fall back on when you die. Instead, you’ll need to use tapes to save your progress and you’ll only have so many to use, depending on how many you find in the world. This save mechanic is a clear nod to the ink ribbons of Resident Evil, and it also works wonderfully as a mechanic in Tormented Souls.
There is a lot of love about Tormented Souls, especially being a fan of old-school survival horror. Complementing just about everything good about Tormented Souls is the audio design. The background noises, creaks of the mansion and the groans of the ghouls, all add to the eerie ambience. The soundtrack is also sublime, which not only brings forth added dread, but also the soothing sounds of the save room.
However, as much as I adore Tormented Souls, the story is perhaps where it falls short the most. To be honest, other than the basics of Caroline receiving a mysterious letter and being in search of the twin girls, the story of Tormented Souls is quite forgettable. I don’t like to knock the voice actors, because, for the most part, they do a great job. But sometimes, some of the enthusiasm feels a little forced, especially from Caroline. Thankfully, everything else about Tormented Souls is great and all those positives will be more than enough to keep you intrigued in this nightmare fuelled world.
To conclude, is Tormented Souls perfect? No, of course not. After all, no game truly is. That said, this is a charming nod to survival horror games of yesteryear. The developers at Dual Effect and Abstract Digital have done an incredible job of bringing almost everything we loved about survival horror games of the late 90s and early 2000s but still made Tormented Souls feel modern. Don’t get me wrong, some AAA developers have made some fantastic horror games in recent years. However, I feel that at the same time, I feel the genre has lost its way a little. Thankfully, talented indie developers are not only keeping this genre alive, but they’re allowing it to thrive. Tormented Souls is more than a love letter of yesteryear, it’s also one of my favourite games this year.
- P.S: There’s a free playable demo of Tormented Souls on available platforms.