Tormented Souls | PS5 Review
Updated: Nov 19
Tormented Souls, developed by Dual Effect and published by PQube, is a return to the classic horror game formula with fixed camera angles; limited resources and an overall retro feel. Tormented Souls is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and XBox and for the purposes of this review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
The survival horror genre has come so far in recent years and has truly reinvented itself from what defined the genre in its early days. Whilst the technology and innovations have come so far and it's amazing; there's almost always this sense of wanting to return to Silent Hill or Resident Evil Zero days for nostalgia purposes and this is exactly where Tormented Souls was directing itself. I feel like this was a very daring and ambitious move with the competition that exists within the genre, unfortunately, some of these aspects didn't translate very well for me and inhibited my enjoyment greatly. However I do see how Tormented Souls could be received well by horror enthusiasts who are looking for a dark and moody nostalgia hit.
In Tormented Souls you take on the role of Caroline who receives an ominous letter with a picture of two rather creepy looking twin girls. The letter came from a place called Winterlake Hospital, which is the place that will host us in our journey through Tormented Souls as Caroline goes to try and establish what's going on. After arriving, Caroline is knocked out and wakes up naked in a bath with a tube down her throat and quickly discovers she's had one of her eyes gouged out. Creepy? Yes indeed. Aside from herself, there's only really one other living soul to be found within the hospital, namely a priest, and Caroline quickly realises she has little choice but to try her best to escape the hospital and try to uncover and solve the many mysteries of what happened in this place: Who are the girls? What happened here? Why did this happen?
The story itself was intriguing to me. It had the classic horror game formula where the bulk of the story was discovered through exploring and reading files and letters that you found dotted around the place. Yes, the story was a little bit stereotypical and predictable however I feel like that's part of the charm. Horror can be generally quite a predictable genre to an extent so this just added to the nostalgia for me.
Whilst I say that the story is predictable, I could never have predicted the journey that Tormented Souls makes you go through to uncover that story. The puzzles throughout are very deep and require a lot of backtracking, exploring and figuring out with very little hand-holding from the game. This wasn't the part that bothered me. In my experience I found the real challenge to be found in the combat due to the fixed camera angles. I felt so weak and exposed throughout the game that it absolutely sapped any enjoyment I was getting from it. Caroline has a very limited move set, yet the monster-like creatures chasing you just seem to be able to outdo you at every turn and the weapons that Caroline have didn't feel terribly effective and this led me to many deaths and much frustration. Generally, I consider myself to be quite patient with games and find ways to work my way around to appreciate the storyline. However, I got about 50 minutes in and died and was taken all the way back to the opening scenes. It wasn't until about 30 minutes after this that I managed to find my first save point. This repetition led to frustration for me very quickly and immediately left a bitter taste in my mouth. The system for saving basically requires you to find a film canister and take it to a tape player. Whilst this was good I feel like it unnecessarily ramped up the difficulty of the game for me, however I feel it's important to say that as much as I didnt like it, it elevated the survival elements to such a high level and really forces the player to make the right decisions in terms of how they move around the hospital.
If you're looking for a classic style survival game with an environment and atmosphere that whilst made recently will still give you nostalgia feels, Tormented Souls is for you. If you can see past the average graphics, the dodgy voice acting and the fixed camera angles then I feel like you'd absolutely enjoy Tormented Souls. Unfortunately for me there were too many aspects that just felt clunky and overly challenging for me to the extent that I just couldn't appreciate the game properly. The multi-step puzzles are excellent and well made and mostly feel logical, however for me getting between these areas and actually surviving is the key here.
Tormented Souls very much left me feeling like a tormented soul throughout. It left me conflicted and frustrated as I can so clearly see what the developers were trying to achieve, I could see the wonderful ideas in action, however I just feel like the execution let it down massively for me. It really puts into perspective for me the reasons why the gaming world has left behind these fixed camera angles and why we have advanced beyond that style of game. Do all these things still have a place in modern games? Absolutely, but defining exactly what that looks like in practice is obviously a struggle. As of late, the only other horror game I've played with fixed camera angles was The Medium and that was an entirely different experience where the fixed angles actually served a purpose to the narrative and never frustrated me half as much as my time playing Tormented Souls.
Lj's Rating: 3 tormented souls out of 5.
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Many thanks to PQube for the Review Key.