Tormented Souls is a Modern Tribute to Classic Horror

Tormented Souls Review

I would like to start this review by stating that I am writing from the perspective of someone who has gotten into the survival horror genre late in my gaming career. Because of this some of what I say in this review may seem like a negative but it could be a positive for some so read thoroughly as I break the game down and make your own decision. I also want to add that although I have played the game for a good few hours, I have not yet rolled credits. So this is somewhere between a first impression and a full review.

Tormented Souls, at the time of writing this, has been out for about a month as it was initially released on August 26th for PlayStation 5 and PC. Two weeks later the game has released on Xbox Series X|S. Now, this may already be a negative for last-gen players that have not been able to make the leap to the next-gen, but do not fear! There is a February 25th, 2022 release date for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A few more details I found interesting is that the game is available both digitally and physically, but there is a price difference. Digitally, the game is currently sitting at a very reasonable $19.99, but for those that are like me and love a nice physical edition (especially for these niche kinds of horror games that form a cult following years down the line and become very collectible. I'm looking at you Rule of Rose), there is a $20 price jump making it $39.99. Now that we got those facts out of the way, let's get onto the review. 

The first thing that I noticed was the classic feel of menus in Tormented Souls. I would be lying to you if I did not act almost like a 70-year-old grandma that is trying to figure out their grandson's Nintendo when attempting to change the brightness because we as gamers have gotten accustomed to a certain kind of mindlessness that comes with doing the simple things. Instead of a simple click of the left or right arrow on the d-pad, you must actually use the analog stick to move the hand over to the word "Bright" or "Dark" and click the corresponding button (A on Xbox, X on PS, and Right-Click on PC). After finally figuring that out I was overcome with an immediate sense of nostalgia that took me back to playing on a PS2 and having to do things more manually. From the very start of the game, it does exactly what it sets out to do in bringing back a classic feel. It reminds me of the original Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, and other classic horror games like Rule of Rose and Clock Tower so for those who are fans of the above-mentioned games, I'd definitely give it a try.

Tormented Souls Gameplay

While sitting on the main menu I highly recommend wearing over-ear headphones to take in the absolutely beautiful score which features a very simplistic piano that is perfectly intense to set up the tone of Tormented Souls before you even click to start. The amazing choice of sound and music does not stop there. Once in the game, you should keep your headphones on as you are again given a nice suspenseful song that has a horrific screech over top of it to immediately make the player uneasy and add to the beautiful aesthetic of the game.

From top to bottom, Tormented Souls is absolutely gorgeous to look at. As in most of these survival horror games, there isn't a whole lot of light because dark = scary. To combat this, you are given a lighter which creates a perfect amount of light to allow the players to see within a reasonable range and it also creates surprisingly realistic shadows on the ground. The main character's design is simplistic and reminds me almost of a porcelain doll (which is creepy in its own respect) in a leather jacket. While streaming this game on Twitch, I jokingly commented that the game has the perfect jiggle mechanics for the main character's body, but it does go to show the amount of work that was put into the small details of the motion of the characters. Each enemy, although being the same type of enemy, has a different movement which is an impressive and unique way to make the enemies different while keeping the same design. Enemies can be mounted to the wall and only be able to swing their arms, crawling around on the ground, pushing themselves around in a wheelchair, or even walking towards you with their terrifying claw hands.

The enemies are amazing to look at, but in combat your character remains stationary giving you only the option to spin in circles to aim and maybe miss the target despite looking right at your enemy or do a simple jump back to try and evade an attack. I will say that this is where the game lacks for me, the combat mechanics are subpar and makes every enemy encounter frustrating as I feel almost not in control.

Tormented Souls Puzzles

Adding to the frustrating combat mechanics was the save feature. For starters, the game does not have checkpoints and if you are to die, you will revert back to the main menu and be asked to start from your previous save file. Now, some of you may be saying to just save after every big encounter to ensure you will not have to redo very hard fights or long puzzles, but that is not an option. In order to save, you must not only find one of the recording devices throughout the game, but you must also find one of the single-use save tapes that are also scattered throughout the map. The save tapes are easy to miss because the items in this game do not have any sort of indication that they can be picked up/interacted with. This would not be as frustrating of a mechanic to me if it were clearly stated somewhere at the beginning of the game, but it is never touched on therefore leading to an awful experience when you die for the first time and find out you have to redo all of what you had completed over again.

The story is nothing to write home about and truthfully is a bit forgettable. I found myself forgetting why I am even in the abandoned hospital very quickly into the game as I was presented with very fun and creative puzzles to solve. Some of the puzzles I found to be to be a bit frustrating as well because the documents that you find lying around actually play a big part in this game, so, if you do play, be sure to at least skim read everything you find or you will face more frustration than necessary at many of the puzzles. I appreciate the extra level of detail and creativity but I found it lead to an extended period of not knowing what to do and having to read through the documents over again during my time with Tormented Souls. It might be useful to take notes on the game as well if that is something you enjoy doing while playing a game. 

Overall, Tormented Souls is definitely fun and will be very much enjoyed by the hardcore survival horror community. However, for a more casual player in the genre, I found this game to be frustrating and losing its appeal quickly as I had to redo many puzzles over and over again thanks to the save feature. Its environment, graphics, and creative puzzles are the highlights in this game and for those alone, I would definitely buy it even as a casual gamer. The combat and lack of a compelling story may make some of you hesitant and maybe you'll want to wait for an eventual sale later down the line and I don't blame you. Tormented Souls is out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC and will release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in February 2022. A review code for the PlayStation 5 was provided by the publisher.

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