As someone who grew up playing classic horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, I have struggled to enjoy the modern renditions of horror. If you take one look at The Medium, you can immediately notice every problem that accompanies it. Fortunately, Dual Effect and Abstract Digital have come together to develop a true and worthy successor to the survival horror genre. With fixed camera angles, tank controls, scarce ammo, and limited saves, Tormented Souls has it all.
Although the graphics are not groundbreaking by any means, Tormented Souls does a fantastic job of creating an unsettling atmosphere. The explorable areas are Lovecraftian, creepy, and beautifully rendered. Items and furniture have high levels of detail, even while playing on lower graphics settings. The bulk of fear comes from the heavy shadows, which, again, Tormented Souls does so well. Players are purposely held back from seeing what monstrosities are lurking around the corners. Meaningful fixed camera angles and well-timed sounds only add to this effect.
“The game plays out much like a locked-room experience.”
Where Tormented Souls truly shines, though, is in its puzzles. They are thoughtful and innovative, not simply “collect all the puzzle pieces” and not as tough as Silent Hill 3‘s “Shakespeare” riddle, either. The game plays out much like a locked-room experience, where solving one puzzle gives you the means to solve another. Thankfully, each puzzle feels fresh and exciting due to the large variety of mechanics in play.
However, Tormented Souls’ combat is not as fun as its puzzles. For the most part, it is clunky and boring; enemies can hit-stun into combos, and by the end of the game, they serve more as an annoyance than a threat. The player receives various weapons to use, but it’s glaringly obvious that some are better than others. Where combat differs from its predecessors is that the player is forced to stay out of the dark as failing to do so for too long results in a game over. Players must draw enemies to light sources to defeat them, which adds an exciting layer to otherwise basic combat.
“Without the effective atmosphere and puzzles, Tormented Souls would be lacking.”
As much as I enjoyed this game, flaws were present. Without the effective atmosphere and puzzles, Tormented Souls would be lacking. The game doesn’t have a strong enough narrative to carry the title alone. Developers tried their best to imbed lore through the multiple diary entries scattered about, but I wasn’t particularly captivated. Although, some were enjoyable to read.
The map system in this game is especially rough as there’s no direct button to bring up the map. Players must enter the menu files each time they wish to view it, and the map does not show progression either. Arguably, the absence of map markings may make for a more significant challenge. Still, some players may find themselves constantly revisiting the same rooms in hopes to remember where they’ve been.
I also managed to encounter a few bugs on my playthrough. While most were merely lighting and texture issues, there was a bug that completely crashed my game and made it unplayable. The problem was resolved out of the game with file manipulation, except it still put a damper on the overall experience. Luckily, the developers are very active on the Steam forum and have already released multiple patches.
“Tormented Souls stands as a must-play for fans of the genre.”
Even with its flaws, Tormented Souls stands as a must-play for fans of the genre. The gorgeous atmosphere and fun puzzles make up for a mediocre story and lacking combat. It’s a true successor of classic survival horror while still adding a flair of its own. For about 10 hours of fun at only CAD 22.79, Tormented Souls is well worth your while. If you enjoy cult horrors such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill, I guarantee you’ll love this.
Tormented Souls is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC via Steam.