I have nigh on always got a craving for survival horror games, and will often look past your typical Resident Evil’s and your Dead Space’s in order to find something just a little different. For the most part when you look outside the big games the modern survival horror genre has descended into a simple walking and running away simulator, thanks to the success of games like Outlast and Amnesia and even Alien Isolation. For some reason this subgenre of survival horror just does absolutely nothing for me and doesn’t excite me in any way.
My search continued around the web, scouring for anything that may tickle my fancy, until I came across the reviews for PQUBE’s Tormented Souls, and they were polarising to say the least… but oddly all said the same thing:
“Tormented Souls is a PlayStation 2 era survival horror game – 2/10”
“Tormented Souls is a PlayStation 2 era survival horror game – 9/10”
All I knew for sure at this point was that I needed to pick up this title, and £6 later it was on its way to my console.
As the haunting notes of the eerie soundtrack fill the air, players of Tormented Souls are immediately transported back to an era when survival horror games were defined by their unique mechanics. The reviews were right on the money as this game fully embraces the aesthetics of the PS2 era. Fixed camera angles, a hallmark of that time, force players to navigate their surroundings with limited visibility, adding an extra layer of tension to every step. And who could forget those unmistakable red ammo boxes that signify both danger and the possibility of survival?
In an age where hyper-realistic graphics and flawless voice acting dominate the scene, Tormented Souls takes a bold step in a different direction. The cheesy voice acting and intentionally dated graphics are not signs of shortcomings, but deliberate design choices to add to the game’s charm. These elements might raise eyebrows initially, but they soon become endearing as players realise that they are part of the game’s deliberate effort to recreate the spirit of the past. It’s a love letter to a time when games were less polished, yet brimming with character.
At its core, Tormented Souls harkens back to the gameplay mechanics that made survival horror a beloved genre. The point-and-shoot mechanics, accompanied by auto-aim when enemies draw near, bring a sense of familiarity to those who have traversed the shadowy corridors of earlier classics. The tension that arises from limited resources and the need to make every shot count adds a layer of strategic depth to the gameplay.
Puzzles, a staple of the survival horror experience, find their place within the mansion and underground bunker which serve as the game’s setting. These puzzles are not only challenges to overcome but also integral parts of the narrative, guiding players through the web of mystery that the game weaves.
Beyond its intentional embrace of classic mechanics, Tormented Souls surprises players with a narrative that harkens back to the early days of the survival horror genre. The story unfolds within the eerie confines of a mansion-cum-hospital, where secrets and malevolent forces have taken root. This setup recalls the foreboding atmosphere of classic titles like Resident Evil, where seemingly mundane locations harbour dark origins.
The game’s plot intertwines with its setting, gradually revealing the sinister underpinnings of the mansion and underground bunker. As players explore the dark corners and solve puzzles, they piece together a story that captivates and intrigues, much like the narratives that made the survival horror genre a cornerstone of gaming history.
In conclusion, Tormented Souls is more than just a game; it’s a nostalgic journey that celebrates the survival horror genre’s roots. By embracing the mechanics, graphics, and voice acting reminiscent of the PlayStation 2 era, the game captures the essence of what made those earlier titles so memorable. As players traverse the eerie hallways and confront the shadows, they’re reminded of a time when survival horror games were as much about the experience as they were about the scares. In a gaming landscape where innovation often takes centre stage, Tormented Souls is a haunting reminder of the power of embracing the past.
Written by Luke.
Edited by Alexx.