Tormented Souls Game Review
In the 90s, survival horror became fundamental in the history of videogame media: from the first steps taken by Alone in the Dark in 1992 up to the Villa Spencer of the first Resident Evil and the ghostly Silent Hill, this genre represented a decisive link between videogames and cinematography. The use of pre-rendered backdrops, incredibly detailed for the time, together with the use of fixed shots, made it possible to make the polygonal models of charismatic characters richer, thus bringing the productions of the time closer to the visual fidelity that still distanced the products of those years of contemporary visual realism.
Furthermore, the use of horror stories (more or less splatter) and iconic monstrosities to face allowed a further step towards success and crystallization in the collective imagination of the titles, making them the largest fortunes. Over the years, technology has allowed the genre to take significant steps forward, not only from a mere technical point of view but also on the side of playful solutions, inevitably removing the genre of the starting technical characteristics, “daughters” of stratagems created to overcome the hardware limitations of the time.
However, even today a large audience of fans looks nostalgically to the era of the fixed camera and pre-rendered backgrounds, hoping for a return to a classic survival horror experience, considered purer and more authentic.
It is precisely from the strenuous passion and love of two Chilean brothers for the classics of the genre, assisted by a handful of support developers, that the small independent studio Dual Effect and their first work, Tormented Souls, published by PQube, was born.
The events begin with the delivery of a letter, from Wildberger Hospital, addressed to Caroline Walker: inside, a photo of two little twins will begin to haunt the girl with frequent headaches and recurring nightmares. Determined to shed light on these seemingly inexplicable events, Caroline decides to go to the dilapidated Wildberger Hospital to find answers. Here will begin the descent of the protagonist into the horror of the dark past of the structure and of those who once lived there.
The events narrated in Tormented Souls fully reflect the canon of the 90s survival horror that inspired it: an intriguing narrative context enriched by a multitude of documents that make up for incomplete management of the cutscenes and the presentation of the characters, at times protagonists of bewildered dialogues. Despite the flaws of the general setting, the story told in the Dual Effect production works and entertains even in the face of some playful solutions that are not narratively contextualized.
Tormented Souls seems a survival horror released a short distance from the original Resident Evil trilogy: if on the one hand, today’s technology allows you to replace the pre-rendered backdrops with highly detailed polygonal backdrops which Chilean production can boast, on the other hand, the use of fixed shots, environmental puzzles, and rigid fights catapulted the title into the most religious amarcord.
Caroline moves within artistically evocative and technically finely crafted settings, so full of charm and details that they seem to escape the low budget classification of production thanks also to implemented mechanics linked to lighting: where the rooms and corridors in which we will move are too dark to proceed, it will be necessary to use a lighter.
In addition to the excellent performance of ambient lighting, choosing to shed light will make it impossible to use weapons of any kind at the same time: therefore Caroline she will find herself temporarily defenseless from the horrors that await her around every corner, at least until she finds a way to make the room constantly bright. In a graphic and technical context worthy of applause, the faces of the human characters are screeching, whose rendering is excessively rubbery if not plastic.
The puzzles represent a further commendable element. Far from proposing banal and obvious problems, Tormented Souls dusts off intelligent and witty puzzles while respecting the dictates of tradition, always respecting the player’s abilities and his ability to observe. The puzzles themselves are often mixed with two very specific game mechanics: the possibility, granted to Caroline on certain occasions, to travel to the past or to visit an alternative dimension.
Although these choices increase the level of a variety of the puzzles, on the other hand, these are precisely the narratively little contextualized playful solutions to which reference was made: on closer inspection, there would be a sort of motivation and it is well hidden between the lines of the documents to be to collect, but it appears excessively synthetic, smoky and very unsatisfactory, actually approaching the typical cinematic MacGuffin. Nothing that could jeopardize the enjoyment of the work, but the lightness in the writing of the screenplay is evident.
The fights are perhaps the least successful aspect of the production: although they are functional and there are no actual problems, Tormented Soulsproposes the same structure seen in the classics of the genre without however providing adequate feedback to the shooting phases.