PQube’s Tormented Souls, which was developed by Dual Effect and Abstract Digital, is an excellent new horror title that’s out now for PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox Series S/X, with last gen versions also on the way. We checked it out on Sony’s new flagship console.
Where last year we had about half a dozen horror titles to review come mid-October, Halloween seems to have arrived early in 2021, as Tormented Souls is likely to be one of the top titles this scary season – especially for those who enjoy classic survival horror with a modern lick of paint. Cinematic camera angles that don’t always give you the best view of the action? Check.
Plot-wise, Tormented Souls is about Caroline, who mysteriously receives a photo of two girls. A vision then draws her to the abandoned Winterlake Hospital, but things quickly turn dark when monsters overwhelm her and she wakes up naked in a bathtub after having lost an eye in the process. It’s a pretty gruesome start to your adventure, which has you struggling to get out of your initial room in the hospital – a stressful scenario where you must stay calm in order to solve the puzzle before you.
Tormented Souls uses a light and dark mechanic where the darkness devours you almost instantly. Caroline can use a lighter to prevent this from happening, but a better way is to power up the hospital’s generators to floor sections and walk about more freely. As an added bonus, this also allows you to wield weapons more efficiently, as you’ll pick up more as you progress. Ammo is of course a limited commodity, but you can always fall back on a melee option with a crowbar if you need to.
With this being a classic horror title with fixed camera angles, the controls are what you’d expect if you’re used to the games this was inspired by. Pressing up always moves you forward, no matter the direction you’re facing – though you can switch to screen-relative controls as well if you prefer a more modern approach. Menus and item interactions are similarly “Resident Evil”-like, and the developers clearly have a love for their inspirations.
As a result of those choices, the game’s pace is a bit slower than many will be used to. Caroline can only aim while standing still, for instance, and melee can feel clunky in an “Alone in the Dark” kind of way – and I’m referring to the 1990s games in the series. Because of this, carefully conserving your ammo and trying to steer clear of melee encounter is probably solid advice. Tormented Souls is less about combat and more about atmosphere anyway, so there’s a good chance this was a choice made by design as well.
As a result, don’t expect a ton of different enemies and bosses to stand in your way either – you’ll spend more time traversing the hospital to combine objects and solve puzzles than you’ll spend in combat. This is also a throwback to the classic survival horror games, and something a lot of gamers these days forget when they see all the much more combat-driven horror games that are coming out.
Playing the game on a PlayStation 5 surprisingly didn’t give us much in terms of DualSense support (which I thought was surprising considering that Silent Hill is one of my earliest “rumble” memories where my gamepad suddenly rumbled as I reached into a hole in the wall), but visually it’s impressive. Running at a 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, it has backdrops that seamlessly mesh together with the characters and interactive objects within it – a major leap forward from the classic look and feel of these games. You’ll also see some great lighting effects, as well as very detailed characters models – and for fans of classic horror games you’ll even notice quite a few hidden nods to the classics within the game.
Combine that with a solid audio score, and this is a classic survival horror game that really convinces players with its atmosphere. While that’s what Silent Hill and Resident Evil also did in their PS1 days, 199x style visuals probably couldn’t pull that off today, so the team made a great choice in going for a more modern look and feel here. The narrative and its delivery feel a bit rough around the edges, but all in all this is an immersive game – especially at its budget price point. If you’re planning on playing a new horror game this Halloween, don’t overlook Tormented Souls.