They say that imitation is the best form of flattery and in the world of survival horror games, many have tried to reproduce the fear factor that has made the Resident Evil games top of the line. The only issue is that although many have tried to give you the same feel, they have all failed in one way or another. However, I am very pleased to say that Dual Effect and Abstract Digital developed a very damn good contender to go after the crown, Tormented Souls. Now I am not saying that this game is spot on and mirrors everything that the original Resident Evil gave us, but I can assure any fan of this genre that this is an absolutely must-play survival horror game.
In Tormented Souls, you will take on the role of Caroline Walker. You receive a letter about the disappearance of twin girls at Winterlake, which used to be a mansion that is now a rundown mental hospital. As soon as you arrive and start to investigate their disappearance, something terrible happens to you. You wake up in the dead of night, in a bathtub without any clothing on and hooked up to some medical equipment that was placed down your throat. Now you must fight to stay alive as you explore the abandoned hospital and all you have are your skills, sharp reflexes, and hopefully the brains to solve some of the most challenging puzzles that I got to play.
The atmosphere of the game gives you a reason to keep your lights on while you play in this dark and amazing world. It sets the mood by giving you a world filled with some of the worst possible things that you can imagine taking place within a hospital setting. Maybe it’s a rusty but razor-sharp scalpel. The cold hard table that you wake up on that you are strapped to. You can hear the creaking of the old and worn-out mattress that your body makes and scream as you wiggle to try to break free. The copper smell of blood around you as the darkness of the void makes it hard to see and then a bright operating light blasts you in the eyes. Then you realize the scalpel is about to cut you open for a surgery that you do not need or want. Tormented Souls seeks to bring us—and the genre—back to our most primal fears.
As you make your way through this dark and horrid environment, you will need to use every resource that you find and your wits to solve puzzles and explore the secrets of the mansion and its grounds. One of the most amazing puzzles for me was finding out about the mirrors, for you see nothing is ever what it seems at Winterlake Mansion though. Mirrors provide a path to an alternate reality and another place in time, and you need to unlock them to try to figure out the whole story of this wicked hell that you are faced with. By crossing these shimmering gateways, Caroline can manipulate the very fabric of reality in surprising ways – turning the situation to her advantage, hopefully. Then again, she could come across a horror so great that you never get back to your reality and this happened to me a lot.
As Caroline investigates the secrets of Winterlake, she becomes very aware that she is nowhere near as alone as she believed she was. Dark forces and unspeakable horrors will do everything in their power to stop her from discovering the truth of this dark and horrid place. As a gamer, please take this to heart and be sure to stay alert at all times. I do mean this, as your fate can be sealed quickly, and you will become a permanent resident at the hospital. Most importantly, use anything and everything you can find to fight off the encroaching terrors of Winterlake, even if it seems like a minor thing. Locks and matches have become your best friends at times in this scenery, trust me on this.
Enemies in the game can be and some most defiantly are tough. Thankfully, the game has an extremely helpful auto-aim feature. As you explore the mansion/hospital, your main weapon will be a nailgun. Then later in the game, you will find all the materials needed to build yourself a shotgun. Dual Effect and Abstract Digital had some fun with the weapons in Tormented Souls. I found this to be a bit of fresh air for the horror genre, as they weren’t the usual run-of-the-mill firearms from previous survival horror titles. However, expect to die multiple times your first time through because some ranged enemies and stronger enemies can take you out in a matter of a single hit. The game does give you a safety net though, as the enemies don’t respawn. So for me, that was a plus, since that made me want to explore more, and that there is no time limit for finding every nook and cranny in Winterlake.
Now I will not say that this game is 100% free of any issues, hell if I am being honest it is about 92% of being a fantastic game. The developers are always working on fixing issues that come along and are always listening to the fans on discord to help make the game reach that 100%. To give you a little bit of an idea of what I mean, the puzzles can become obscured and will easily turn the 5 – 8-hour game into a 15-hour experience. There is also no map system that tells you where you are or which rooms you haven’t visited to further the confusion, and although I love to explore, I kept running in circles exploring the same area over and over, before I realized it.
Tormented Souls will always test your resolve during gameplay. It presents by far one of the greatest survival horror experiences, that I have played in a long, long time. The music matches the atmosphere to a tee, and the overall sound design makes you know when you’re walking into a bad situation as you hear enemies creeping closer. Hell, I felt like I was playing in a horror/slasher movie at times and when the music chimed in, I started looking around to see if there was a guy in a hockey mask with a machete coming after me. Unfortunately, that guy wasn’t available for this game.
Tormented Souls is a great start to bringing the horror genre of video games back to the forefront. I was extremely pleased with my overall experience and wish that moving forward that PQube Limited, Dual Effect, and Abstract Digital works. It is very easy to see that the developers are huge fans of the genre as the game feels like it was created to even test their skills. Caroline Walker seems like the perfect person to start a new franchise with and Tormented Souls could have multiple series to follow. Tormented Souls will be released on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Series S on August 27th for $39.99.
This review was written based on a review key of Tormented Souls for PC provided by PQube Games.