This game contains scenes of explicit violence and blood.
It’s a phrase so familiar to fans of classic survival horror games that it’s almost comforting to have it in the beginning of Tormented Souls. Since the mid-2000s, the game genre has been bent and transformed to keep pace with the changes of the times and growing fatigue around overused mechanics in franchises such as vampire And alone in the dark. The classic ’90s survival horror paradigms — fixed camera angles, fixed aim, and precise element management — are almost extinct. Tormented Souls is a love letter to classic ’90s horror games; True Tributes include the origins of the genre. It’s a shame, then, that she pretty much struggles to live up to such a high standard.
The game starts on a slightly sad note with a blurry and tense opening sequence; It’s almost a callback in itself to N64-era videos, but the presentation is clearly just a byproduct of the game’s port on the Switch, as these performance issues aren’t as noticeable on other consoles. Once you get into the gameplay itself, the presentation is much better. You wake up in a tiny X-ray room as protagonist Caroline Walker and instantly fixed camera angles imply this is an old-school survival horror through and through. Soon, you pick up a lighter that can be used to light up the dark surroundings, and the shadows that dance across the rooms as you walk through them are a really impressive sight to see.
As you explore, you’ll encounter puzzles and enemies that will make die-hard survival horror fans smile from ear to ear. Enemies often wait, out of sight of any camera that is mounted on Caroline; It’s a powerful way to intensify the tension in certain scenarios, but in others, the lack of visual cues is quite frustrating, especially when the awkward position of the camera causes you to lose your sense of direction. Likewise, aiming with your weapons is very much a “classic” survival horror; You can shoot in any direction, but moving your feet at the same time unfortunately is impossible for Caroline; You are fixed in place. Thankfully, there is a dodge mechanic that can get you out of tight spots, but since you can only dribble backwards, there’s no point in putting you back up in a corner.
The puzzles will also look familiar, but their implementation feels more involved than other horror games. Dealing with it requires pretty much the same process: you’ll need to explore your surroundings, collect items, and combine them together to unlock new paths and get essential items. The inventory screen implements the use of an on-screen cursor, which can be used to select items and transfer them directly into the game world. You can also scan items and select specific parts of them to interact with directly. The on-screen indicator makes the process seem easy and intuitive, and you’ll be able to see the effects of your use of the item in real time.
In the end, although Tormented Souls is a commendable homage to the classic survival horror game, its focus on the past is unfortunately their biggest downfall. The ads for the game are considered an “update” to the genre, but the mechanics within it feel as old as the games it emulates. In about seven hours or so, you’ll have a decent time here if you’re a big fan of horror games wishing some big names revisited their origins, but for others, the fixed camera angles and limited combat can be more frustrating than nostalgia. Add to that a few technical hiccups in the way of trick scenes and animations, and you’ve got a game to play as the second fiddle in the more established survival horror games on Switch.