With titles like OMORI and Silent Hill 2 ranked high on my favourites list, psychological horror is one of my most enjoyed genres. I couldn’t contain my excitement when In Sound Mind was shown to me. The game’s tags are everything I love: horror, puzzles, story-rich, and cats. By definition, In Sound Mind should have been my next obsession. After several hours of frustrating and laggy gameplay, I decided it was anything but.
“When all else should have stopped me from playing, the plot is what drove me forward.”
Starting on a positive note, the tag ‘story-rich’ was made for games like this. When all else should have stopped me from playing, the plot is what drove me forward. The voice acting is phenomenal, there’s no over-exposition, and the pacing feels just right. A common trope is used for the basis of the story, but In Sound Mind does it so well that the matter is easily forgiven.
The graphics are mediocre. Nothing is gripping about them and most of the scenery gets repetitive after a while. What atmosphere the game manages is thanks to its incredible soundtrack, which always seems to be in line with the plot’s mood. I appreciate the subtle scares scattered throughout and the psychedelic filter used during some scenes. It’s worth mentioning that a short portion of the game features a rocking boat; the sway made me so motion sick that I had to step away from my computer for the night.
Gameplay is where In Sound Mind starts to get really messy. Shooting, sneaking, platforming, and puzzle-solving; for a game that isn’t as high budget as Uncharted, it sure tries to incorporate a lot. No aspect is particularly good, although, the puzzles are generally quite clever. Platforming is especially rough; I once spent 40 minutes trying to make a mandatory jump. Stealth is inconsistent and running from invincible monsters gets tiring quickly. The explorable areas are large, and just like Tormented Souls, there’s no readily available map to help players find their way.
“At moments of high action, I was clocking in at a measly 15 FPS. During chases, I dropped as low as five.”
Despite gameplay, the biggest deal-breaker is the lag. At moments of high action, I was clocking in at a measly 15 FPS. During chases, I dropped as low as five. I felt the need to double-check my PC met the developer’s recommended requirements because I, simply, could not believe the unplayable frame rates I was receiving. This is not to say the whole game runs that slow. Yet, with the amount of fighting and platforming taking place, I was more irritated than not. A periodic reset did alleviate the pain at times, but that just suggests the game suffers from memory leaks.
Multiple other issues were also present during my playthrough. Voice lines repeat mercilessly. Door locks are too easy to miss. Notes that the player finds are not stored, which means backtracking to reread puzzle-related clues. And at one point, the game auto-saved my position out of bounds, causing me to die instantly upon reloading.
“In Sound Mind has a fantastic story that is executed poorly.”
In Sound Mind has a fantastic story that is executed poorly. The pacing and subtle scares are great. The music is worth listening to on its own. However, these few good aspects aren’t enough to make up for the frustrating gameplay and overwhelming lag. With updates, In Sound Mind has the potential to be amazing. In its current state, though? Not so much.
In Sound Mind is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and PC via Steam.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.