Reviews - Updated on March 30, 2022

As you know, big studios no longer make classic horror films. Alone in the Dark is dead, Silent Hill is in a cryochamber, and the authors of Resident Evil are releasing modern remakes and experimenting with the format. As always, indie developers come to the rescue. For more than a week now, the horror community has been squealing with fear and delight, playing Tormented Souls – this is a thing inspired by the classics from the 90s and created by an unknown Chilean studio Dual Effect exclusively on the same patterns. And these delights are quite justified.

The beauty and the Beast

The authors of Tormented Souls know exactly what veteran fans of the classic Resident Evil sets crave. We play as a sexy girl in a short, playfully soaring dress when running, which, like Jill Valentine in the recent RE3 remake, you immediately want to undress. About five minutes after the start, she really finds herself naked in the bathroom, a large hose is inserted into her mouth and … However, leave your fantasies. Everything is really bad – the girl was deprived of her eye and, it seems, is being prepared for a terrible operation.

After getting out, getting dressed and wearing a bandage on the place where the right eye used to be, Carolina Walker is determined to find out what is happening in this damned old house. Here, in the Winterlake mansion, she went to find out the fate of two missing twin girls, but, as you can see, she herself was in danger.

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With such a bow to this terrible place? Boldly. I’ve rewatched the anime…

Gradually, including from the found notes and diaries, we learn about how the girls were born, about their parents, about the strange events that took place in this no less strange house, equipped as a hospital. We also learn about sects, experiments and even sacrifices – in general, a complete set.

Yes, there are unexpected discoveries and intrigues. Who is this priest who periodically meets us, gives advice and calmly eats soup in an abandoned mansion full of monsters? And why can Carolina enter the mirror and move to another place?

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Black mirror?

But in general, the scenario again corresponds to the traditions of the genre, and many of your guesses made in the middle of the passage will turn out to be true. But this does not prevent you from following what is happening with interest, and then replaying the final segment in order to get a good ending – there are only three of them.

Of course, the characters are puppet-like and not very deep. And Carolina sometimes looks like a fool. Even left without an eye, faced with monsters, she will ask again in a conversation with the same priest: doesn’t it seem to him, they say, that strange things are happening here? The scriptwriters of Capcom’s RE remakes were just trying to give out more living characters. But Tormented Souls is no longer about heroes, but about the atmosphere, gameplay and puzzles.

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He’s kind of suspicious.

As before and as needed

The gameplay also corresponds to GOST. We control Carolina from a third-person perspective with a fixed camera. Yes, the control scheme itself can be called more modern, and the camera is a little more dynamic, but in general the sensations are the same. And even the inconveniences inherent in such a scheme here cause a resonance in the soul.

When you enter a new room and only hear, but do not see the approaching enemy, you immediately feel uncomfortable and want to go back. You aim your weapon at the sounds and start shooting nervously in that direction, listening to whether it hit or not. It evokes a lot of emotions. First, nostalgia: you immediately remember the sleepless nights after the first Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Secondly, it is really nervous and scary. Moreover, the monsters themselves with their ugly (in a good sense of the word) design immediately make you remember about Silent Hill.

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The audio work in Tormented Souls is amazing. Only in safe rooms, calm and very pleasant music is turned on. Here, as a rule, you can save on cassette recorders (the only way, no checkpoints!), But first you need to find and put the reel – all according to the laws of the classics.

According to the same laws, you have to save ammunition and first-aid kits, constantly checking inventory and rejoicing at every new find. Especially since you can’t craft ammo. There are four types of weapons in the game – at first only a nail gun and a crowbar are available, which are best to finish off enemies while saving ammunition, then a shotgun appears (you first need to find and collect its parts) and a kind of shocker. Yes, it’s sparse, but it’s not empty either.

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Inventory is also arranged in a classical way.

Make us uncomfortable!

Finally, Karolina is afraid of the dark. If you stay in it for a few seconds, then the darkness will swallow the girl and the game will end. Therefore, you often have to run around with a lighter and light candelabra to light up the area and lure the monster into it. And the girl cannot or does not want to take a lighter in one hand, a nail gun or a crowbar in the other – you need to switch between equipment through inventory every time. And only in the second half of the campaign will we be given a flashlight that can be attached to a jacket, freeing our hands.

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And here it is light, and the monster is visible.

Because of this, you won’t immediately get to some places: if, for example, it’s not only dark there, but the enemy is blocking the way. He turned on the lighter – remained unarmed, took out a nail gun – was swallowed up by darkness. Yes, according to all modern rules, this is inconvenient and generally a minus. But in this case, it is clear that the authors did so on purpose in order to cause even more nostalgia and tension at the same time. And it works – I don’t want to scold, but I want to find a solution how to get into this zone.

Think to survive!

Naturally, Tormented Souls is full of classic puzzles. Most of them are related to how to get behind the next closed door and open the next lock. You need to pick up or even assemble an object of the desired shape to one door, attach a handle to the other and tap the correct rhythm with it, it’s useless to approach the rest for the time being until you understand how to solve the twisted puzzle. We also fix electrical panels, change fuses, pressurize systems, turn valves, have fun with the classic Plumber mini-game and match the numbers to the combination locks.

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Hints are sometimes in the most visible place.

Plus exercises with items that need to be combined in the inventory. Some puzzles are easier, others are harder. There are also classic, again from the 90s, conventions: you can look for a long time how to cut the rope on the hatch, although somewhere nearby is the kitchen where the knives are – naturally, no one will allow us to take them.

Either way, it won’t be boring. Somewhere, not very clear logic is annoying – although it later turns out that there were hints, and the logic, if you look, is present. Somewhere you are amazed at the authors’ imagination: in one situation, you need to measure the heart rate at the statue, in another – insert a plastic heart into a doll or sew a hand to a mannequin, acting on the principle of voodoo magic.

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The game has been translated into Russian.

All this is framed by not the most modern, but decent picture, in which, first of all, I would like to note the chic design and detailing of the environment at the level of large AAA games. I can’t even believe that a small Chilean studio did all this. Except that facial animation (more precisely, its absence) in videos and cut-scenes hurts the eye a little, and sometimes there are small technical flaws.

In addition, a New Game+ mode and the ability to unlock some goodies like a new outfit for Karolina would not hurt to encourage us to repeat the passage. Although, isn’t it too much and at once I want from the team, which has already given us a very unexpected and therefore even more pleasant little masterpiece?

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Here you can see the paintings of Caravaggio.

Tormented Souls is revealingly old-school and in many ways not very comfortable. But at the same time it causes a storm of delight. Although there is nothing to be surprised. Firstly, the control and behavior of the camera are still modernized, and therefore you quickly get used to them, and even more so on the gamepad. Secondly, we all missed the classics – today it’s like a breath of fresh air (albeit with a touch of mothballs). And most importantly, the authors did everything competently and with soul – Tormented Souls is really scary, atmospheric, interesting and there are almost no typical indie problems. Perhaps the best horror of the year, many will choose this game, and not Resident Evil Village.

Pros: the plot as a whole is traditional for the genre, but it’s still interesting to follow it; more than addictive classic gameplay; many mysteries; excellent design and detailing of the environment; according to the laws of the classics, an atmosphere of tension built up, which, among other things, is created by excellent work with sound.

Cons: the characters are poorly written; few types of weapons; there are technical problems; little incentive to replay.

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