Horror holds a special place in my heart. It’s been one of my favourite genres for as long as I can remember, then again, everyone in my family enjoys it, so I was essentially raised to be a horror fiend. However, when it comes to my love of spooky games, there are a number of titles I have to thank, one of which is Resident Evil – I still remember watching my mum play it (she wasn’t aware three year old me hid behind the couch to watch).
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that survival horror is one of my favourite subgenres, but I can’t help but miss the days of yore, you know? Back in the 1990s when the category took the world by storm, with Resident Evil and its notorious Spencer Mansion leading the charge. For the longest time, I’ve wanted a fresh experience that caters to the classic survival horror experience, and thanks to Tormented Souls, that dream is now a reality.
Ever since its announcement, I’ve had a keen eye on the game, especially when it became evident how much influence it takes from the 90s survival horror craze. It’s very clear to see that the likes of Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, and Silent Hill serve as great inspiration for Tormented Souls, and that alone is enough to entice me, as well as a lot of other horror nuts.
Of course, Tormented Souls first hit the scene last year, but as it’s finally come to Switch, I can dive into this harrowing title and give you the lowdown on the game itself, including how it performs on the hybrid console.
First of all, the second the opening cutscene begins to play, I’m thrown back to the survival horror games that started it all, everything about it gives me heavy nostalgia vibes, and this increases tenfold when the gameplay gets underway. You take on the role of Caroline Walker, a young woman that finds herself in a strange mansion as she tries to solve the disappearance of twin sisters after receiving a peculiar note weeks prior.
It doesn’t take long for things to go awry for the protagonist, as she’s hit around the head with a pipe of some sort. When she comes to, you realise that things are going to be incredibly creepy, weird, and a bit confusing. You see, Caroline awakens naked in a bath full of murky water with a respirator jammed down her throat, and that alone is enough to make me ask, ‘what the hell is going on?’ After that, she gets dressed, and wanders over to the mirror, only to discover her eye is missing – do you now see why things are a wee bit creepy?
After that cutscene finishes, this is when you take control of the freaked out Caroline, and it’s in this precise moment that you realise just how much of a throwback Tormented Souls is to the godfather of survival horror. You face fixed camera angles, are in a dank room, and need to solve puzzles – oh, how I’ve missed this.
Once you find your way out of the room, that’s where the real horror begins. You start to explore the building, and soon enough, you come across a grotesque creature that would have the Tyrant running away in fear, and this only gets more intense as the game goes on – some of the enemies you encounter are on the more creepy side of the spectrum and certainly hold their own against other horror creatures.
Your surroundings alone leave you constantly on edge
Yet, it’s not just the monsters that crank the terror dial up to eleven. Tormented Souls-like any survival horror worth its salt – is shrouded in an atmosphere so thick that you could cut it with a knife. Your surroundings alone leave you constantly on edge, especially since the fixed camera angles mean you can’t always see what’s coming up, you have no idea what awaits you in the next room, around the corner, or even further down the corridor you’re currently in.
For me, any horror game needs to create the right atmosphere. It needs to draw me in and make me think that, yes, I’m in peril, and unless I use my wits, I’m about to meet my maker here. Yet, not all horror games achieve this. Full disclosure, some make me laugh due to how underwhelming I find it all to be, but Tormented Souls ticked all the right boxes to make me think that this is a life or death situation.
It doesn’t hurt that the mansion – huh, where have we seen that before? – is twisted all on its own. It’s evident that some ghastly events happened here, which, of course, plays a part in the story. Because trust me, this isn’t like a cheerful family fun day out, nobody should step foot in this squalor without a need to.
When it comes to the story, like me, you might find yourself clocking a key reveal that’s due later in the game. However, despite figuring something out within minutes, that didn’t mean I had all that many answers. The game constantly kept me guessing about how it all comes together, and, frankly, what the hell went on in the past. Speaking of which, due to some freaky deaky stuff, you do go back in time, which allows you to alter things in the present – a fantastic part of the story that left me keen to see where it’s all going.
If you want to clue yourself in even more, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings and read all the items and reports you come across – some hold valuable information and offer a greater insight into the events that transpired here. This is a staple in survival horror, and it’s still present in many games today, with Tormented Souls using the feature well – I looked in every nook and cranny to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Of course, I don’t want to spoil the story here, so I won’t dive into it any further, but I will say some things aren’t what they seem, and when it all comes to a head, everything clicks perfectly – I’m a sucker for a good narrative, and I found myself enjoy the story in Tormented Souls as I continuously came up with new theories about what’s going on. There are also three possible endings for you to get. One is bad, another is neutral, and the final one is most certainly the good ending.
As I already mentioned, Tormented Souls is full of puzzles and things for you to do – you don’t have to solve all of them, but like with any good game in the genre, it certainly isn’t a bad thing if you do. Besides, you’re playing the wrong game if you don’t enjoy a side of problem-solving with your main course of horror. The influence of titles such as Resident Evil is evident in how the puzzles are done, and that’s part of why they work so well.
It’s fun, albeit exhausting, to encounter various rooms and objects that require an item, except you don’t have it yet, or are unsure how to use them correctly, but this is a quintessential part of the survival horror game experience, and I’m here for it.
Okay, so how exactly does Tormented Souls perform on Switch? Is it worth a shot on the console, or are you better off giving it a go on another platform? In my humble opinion, the Switch version is good. I ran into very few performance problems. Every now and then, the framerate drops, but it happens so little that I barely notice it at all when it does. If you enjoy this sort of game and love your Switch, it’s a great match.
Furthermore, the game looks good and feels great. The control scheme is perfectly fine, with it resembling Resident Evil, right down to its inventory screen and a beating heart display to indicate what Caroline’s health is. It’s little things like this that all blend together to bring you a great horror game, one that I certainly enjoyed my time with.
All in all, Tormented Souls is a great homage to those that came before it, while also cementing itself as a modern-day horror classic. If you’re a horror fanatic, give this game a try, especially if you long for the good old days of survival horror.