It’s been more than 15 years since Capcom rebooted the Resident Evil franchise (for the first time) with the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005. I for one was pretty gutted to see this revolution happen because Resident Evil 1 and 2 are still, to this day, some of my favourite games of all time. To that end, when I heard about Tormented Souls and its promise to harken back to the PlayStation 1 Resident Evil days of old, I was delighted!
Prior to the release of Resident Evil 4, the series had mainly been lauded for its slow but tense action, as well as its emphasis on exploration and resourcefulness. However, gamers in the most part tend to clamour for action like zombies clamour for brains, and you can see why this turn in direction was made. The series, in fairness, has not looked back since. Tormented Souls is unashamed in taking these roots of the survival horror genre, popularised by Resident Evil, and stays faithfully attached to them throughout.
Now that I have a young son, I tend to only get time to play video games late at night after he’s gone to bed - I’m a scaredy cat at the best of times but this was NOT a good idea when playing Tormented Souls. The story is predominantly set in a creepy old hospital (think the mansion in RE1 and the police station in RE2), and your character, Caroline Walker, gets inextricably involved when she wakes up in one of the hospital bathrooms with no idea how she got there. She then begins to unfurl the mystery of two missing girls who appear to have been patients there in the past. The story is even more unsettling than some of the old Resident Evil fare, so if you’re a fan of gore, jump scares and general moribund shenanigans, then you’ll love Tormented Souls.
The hospital acts as a kind of Metroidvania type world where you need to find keys and other items to unlock paths (yes, there’s a fair bit of backtracking). There is a lot of puzzle solving which involves inspecting items in your inventory and working out where the best place to use them is. If you’ve played the old Resident Evil games, you’ll know all the old tricks to look out for, but if you’re new to the genre, you may find some of the puzzles slightly too abstract and complex.
- Faithful recreation of the gameplay in RE1 and RE2 (and to a lesser extent, RE3)
- Creepy and atmospheric storytelling
- Wickedly challenging puzzles to solve
Of course, the reasons I love Tormented Souls will also be the reasons that many of you won’t. The camera is almost entirely positioned with fixed angles, and this frequently means that you’ll be shooting enemies off-screen in the vain hope that you’ll land hits. This may seem ridiculous in a game where the need to preserve ammo is key but hey, it’s all part of the charm if you ask me! It does feel a little dated but I think that’s the point.
Also, whilst Tormented Souls is incredibly creepy, the character design of some of the creatures you come up against is a bit wide of the mark and has the opposite effect of creepiness. In trying to convey them as having big sharp teeth, it actually just looks like they’re giving you a massive smile, which at least keeps the heart rate down for the player, but I don’t think that was the intended outcome.
The map (I’m always talking about the map) is a bit frustrating to use as well. In old school Resident Evil games, the map would tell you which rooms you had and hadn’t been to but in Tormented Souls, there is no way of knowing that, which hampers the exploration somewhat. There is also a button to press as a shortcut to bring the map up; it was implied that this was the right stick but in the version I played (Switch), it was in fact the left stick (I'm not sure if that will be corrected on release). As a result, there were quite a few occasions where I found myself accidentally bringing up the map in the middle of some intense combat. Surely one of the unused buttons would have made more sense?
- Fixed camera angles which hamper combat (but would it be a true Resident Evil homage without this)
- Map not used to full potential, and frustrating choice of shortcut button
- Questionable and inadvertently quaint enemy character art
Final Score: 8/10
Ever since I first learned of Tormented Souls I’ve been excited to play it and it did not disappoint. Tormented Souls does exactly as it says on the tin; this is a PS1 era Resident Evil game in all but name and licence. Tormented Souls also perfectly strikes the right balance between intrigue, terror and exploration, which is difficult to pull off; I just wish there were more games like this! Dual Effect Games, Abstract Digital and PQube; thank you, you’ve made an old(ish) gamer very happy.
Thank you for checking out our Tormented Souls Switch review, thank you to PQube for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: