Many developers have tried to replicate the magic of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series, often with little success. That’s why Tormented Souls, by Chilean studio Abstract Digital Works, is so refreshing. This indie survival-horror experience effectively recaptures the best parts of Resident Evil, utilizing fixed camera angles, a densely packed setting to explore, and tank controls that somehow feel modern. But above all else, Tormented Souls is tremendously scary, encapsulating nearly everything that makes horror games work so well.
Tormented Souls follows Caroline Walker as she explores the Wildberger Hospital in search of two missing girls. She’s quickly captured and awakens in a bathroom inside the hospital. Things go downhill pretty quickly from there. It launched for Nintendo Switch in 2022, but came to other platforms in 2021.
Tormented Souls succeeds right away thanks to its art style. At first glance, its soft, approachable designs seem out of place in a horror game. Protagonist Caroline Walker’s endearing, girl-next-door design ropes you in before pulling the rug out from under you. This almost childlike art style is jarring and unsettling in contrast to the terrifying situations you find yourself in.
Atmospheric lighting also adds to the suspense, causing your mind to wander anxiously about what lies ahead. This, combined with Tormented Souls’ art direction work together to deliver a tense, frightening experience that will likely leave you uncomfortable throughout.
Tormented Souls will feel familiar if you’ve spent any time with classic Resident Evil games. Yet its puzzles, fixed camera angles, and satisfying exploration loop never feel outdated. One early puzzle requires you to simply put in a locker code, which is cleverly revealed to you by “inspecting” a pocket watch. This is a common occurrence in Tormented Souls, not only encouraging players to collect items, but to inspect them closely.
As you play, you come across plenty of locked doors and other barriers to progress. Each one offers a hint about how to proceed, so it’s always exciting when you do find the required item later. Some locked areas taunt you for the majority of the game, making it even more gratifying when you find the key or object needed. These challenges never feel obtuse, and are consistently engaging.
Combat is one of the game’s main pillars, and you’ll use a nail gun rather than a standard firearm. Along the way, you encounter creatures that take a page out of Silent Hill’s book, with grotesque, nightmarish designs. One common enemy is blind, though any sort of movement attracts their attention, so you’ll need to approach battles carefully — especially since ammo is scarce.
Tank controls and a fixed camera make each combat encounter terrifying, and Caroline can feel agonizingly slow at moments. As deadly creatures approach, you can hear the sounds of metal scraping across the floor, steadily ratcheting up the scares. Thankfully, you don’t need to have precise aim to take down your foes, as the game auto-locks onto enemies within a certain radius. Little touches like these give it an edge over the classic games that inspired it.
Some old-school horror games don’t hold up well due to outdated technology. But that’s where Tormented Souls comes in, as it’s almost exactly the way we remember Resident Evil feeling, but with modernizations that make it easy to play in 2022. It’s immensely satisfying and almost never frustrating to play.
Tormented Souls is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.