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Games like Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark transformed the video game horror genre, but a lot has changed since then. Tormented Souls, however, is a grand attempt to return to the horror roots of those giants and yet do something fresh and new. This is a dark and brooding horror game that is much-needed in the Switch horror library, and fans of the genre should be very excited for this one.
So does Tormented Souls scare your pants off? Or is this mostly a nostalgia trip to remind us of “better” days? Let’s find out!
WARNING: This is an M-Rated game with some graphic imagery. Proceed with caution.
You play as Caroline Walker, and right at the beginning, you receive a letter with a picture in it of two girls. Upon touching it, Caroline is overwhelmed with pain and guilt, but she doesn’t know why. Eventually, she decides to track down where the photo came from, so she makes her way to Wildberger Hospital only to find herself in a dire situation. She is knocked out and wakes up naked in a bathtub with a tube down her throat, and worst of all, she is missing an eye.
It is at this point we take control of Caroline, and this is where things go from horrific to familiar, as the control scheme and camera angles are reminiscent of those older horror games like Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark. Walking around the hospital/mansion feels all-too-familiar to the original Spencer Mansion, which is a great homage while also being its own horror setting.
Caroline is a solid protagonist, and her fears and troubles are all completely understandable. Her motive for going to the hospital location is a bit weak, but this is a horror title, so don’t expect top tier storytelling. Although controlling Caroline can feel wonky at times, it is a throwback to the old tank controls, but thankfully Tormented Souls does not itself use tank controls but a more refined version where most of the movement can be done on the left stick. Interestingly, the d-pad can be used for those thank controls if you so desire. I mean, Tormented Souls really is a love letter to those classic horror games, so if that is something you are looking for, this is a great option.
Gameplay in Tormented Souls is a bit complicated, though. For starters, the controls are just not great. I understand they are a throwback, but there are plenty of moments throughout where panic is the right emotion and not horror, as movement during frantic situations can be problematic due to the awkward controls and lack of camera movement. Because the camera changes depending on the room entered, seeing certain angles is tough. This is even more difficult when an enemy is chasing you, and you are running from room to room only to have to shift your controls to the new camera angle.
Another area that I am not a fan of, but completely understand the inclusion because of the inspiration, is the saving system. Like old Resident Evil games, Tormented Souls forces the player to find 7-inch tape that must be used in a safe room where a tape recorder is located. Like ink ribbons in the original Resident Evil, this save option is limited, which means auto-saving is non-existent and dying without saving will result in a lot of lost progress (For me, I actually played for about two hours before dying for the first time, and I had yet to find a safe room on my journey, which meant I had to start all over). Again, I get it, but this archaic saving method is also unconventional and not worth the nostalgia, especially for those with busy lives that need to save more regularly.
Fortunately, those are the two most problematic areas, because just about everything else in Tormented Souls is fantastic and a great reminder of why those old horror games worked. The creepy enemies, the haunting environments, and the unsettling NPCs that assist you on your journey all play great parts to create a truly terrifying experience that will surely excite horror fans across the board. This is not the most graphic or brutal horror game out there, but it does have its moments. Where Tormented Souls shines most in its horror is in the atmosphere and the design, and this is a solid game that is absolutely worth the scares.
Puzzles in Tormented Souls are pretty fun, as they are another reminder of the horror games of old. Finding certain items to help open doors or gain access to important keys/items throughout the game take a little bit of effort, as exploration is forced to a degree, meaning you have to traverse your way wisely through troubling enemies and scary areas in order to obtain some kind of information necessary to move on. It is a nice gimmick that worked before and continues to work here, and I am all for it. Tormented Souls applies this wonderfully, and it really makes the puzzling areas of the game less of a hassle and more of a compliment to the actual gameplay.
The game also looks amazing for an indie horror title. The attention to detail in the hospital/mansion is pretty amazing, and I love all of the little touches that have been applied to just about every single room. You can tell there was a lot of love put into this project to not only make it play like an old-school horror game but also have similar aesthetics while also taking advantage of modern day graphics and engines. Some times the characters models, including both Caroline and various enemies, tend to clip walls or even interact strangely with each other. I especially noticed this when trying to run away and seeing both Caroline and the enemy I was trying to get away from slide around as they were doing their normal walking animations. It looks strange, but considering the price tag and how amazing everything else is, this is not really a problem.
In regards to the sound department, Tormented Souls is phenomenal. The voice acting is okay, neither good or bad, but the ambience is a total throwback and it is just as good today as it was back in the late 1990s. I had chills at multiple points in the game thanks to the excellently placed horror sounds. Sure, there may be some cheap scares here and there in the game, but I was so impressed with the perfect placements and how it elevated so many of the scenarios that I even appreciated the cheap scares.
Tormented Souls is an excellent throwback horror game for the Nintendo Switch. It may have its issues, most of which are archaic designs borrowed from the inspiring classic titles, but the overall experience and quality is top notch. This is one of the best horror games I have played in a long, long time, and I cannot believe this is an indie title. The main story will take you about 8-9 hours, but there is plenty more to do after the initial finish, as there are a decent amount of extras to keep you busy.
If you are looking for a solid horror game to play on your hybrid console, look no further. Tormented Souls is absolutely on par with the Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark series, and yet it is priced significantly cheaper and, dare I say, provides better scares, making it one of the best horror games on the Switch currently.
Solid campaign with good replay value
Excellent horror sound
Great visuals on Switch
Archaic saving system (Not convenient for busy people that need to save regularly)
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.