Staggeringly gruesome visuals.
Feels a bit too much like a Flash game.
The storyline is utterly unimportant.
Tormentum: Dark Sorrow Review
Have you ever wondered how it would be to live in the mind of, say, H. R. Giger or Hieronymus Bosch? Better yet, have you ever wanted to see how one such fantastical world would live and breathe? If the answer is yes, you’re going to love Tormentum: Dark Sorrow.
There are many kinds of horror one can employ to freak out his/her audience. The more “concrete” ones include bodily horror, jump scares, extreme violence and similar. Then there’s the more sublime type, one that makes you question your existence, the meaning of life and ask question that are perhaps better left unanswered. In gaming, we rarely touch upon these themes, sadly. It’s much easier to render copious amounts of blood and gore than it is to create a truly monstrous atmosphere, and with that in mind, very few game developers have ever even tried to build a game spun around this deeper kind of dread. Thankfully, Tormentum does exactly that. Whereas most adventure games try to build a solid storyline, fleshed-out characters and a consistent game world, Tormentum ditches all of that in an effort to create an experience that’s truly disturbing in more than one context. Thanks to its grotesque graphics and lack of anything that’s truly familiar to us, it’s largely successful in doing so.
I’m guessing you’ve either played or seen enough of, say, The Evil Within or some other, similar recently released horror game. While creepy and atmospheric, these games never actually go deep enough to question your sanity and whether the things you’re seeing are meant to be seen. Tormentum trumps them all easily, and is set in one of the most horribly twisted universes we’ve ever had the chance to see in video-games. It’s as if this whole world was built by Giger himself, with one nightmarish background being replacing the other as you go along. This is a game of discovery and atmosphere rather than characters or story, there’s very little dialogue available and you’ll rarely be interested much in the plight of the nameless, faceless protagonist. At least, not as much as you’ll be gasping in front of the horrifying sights that are displayed before you every step of the way.
The storyline is just there to justify the world you’ve been thrown into, rather than being the main driving force of the game. You take control over a faceless, nameless stranger with an amnesia as he’s flown into a nightmarish castle where people are tortured for their sins in ways that are just as gruesome as the castle is. You won’t be invested too much in the plight of your rat-like warrior companion, nor will you care about what happens to your avatar. They’re just vessels through which the world is depicted. This is enforced by the notion of gameplay in Tormentum. Rather than having you move the hooded stranger around, you’ll just click on the edges of screen to advance from one room to another. The stranger will, thus, be completely static 95% of the time. The rooms are livelier, but that’s not necessarily a good thing if you don’t have a strong stomach. The twisting, curling semi-organic horrors that you’ll meet are much more disturbing that one might expect from a video game.
Gameplay-wise, Dark Sorrow is more varied than your average point ‘n’ clicker is. Puzzles will have you following clues all around the castle (and beyond, at one point), often making you complete a mini-game of sorts to progress further. It’s all fairly – and quite appropriately so – organic, with great pacing through the game. Combine this with the fact that the game enforces quick shifting from one screen to another and often closes off the ares you’ve cleared before and you’ve got yourself a genuinely engaging point ‘n’ click adventure game. It’ll always keep you focused, and you’ll always know what to do and where. As soon as you figure it out, that is. But it’s not like you’re going to have many problems with that. Even though it doesn’t feature a hint system, Tormentum isn’t a difficult game in terms of puzzles, which is due to the fact that it’ll often directly tell you what to do via NPCs and/or codes and such. I feel that this gets a bit too cheap for my tastes sometimes, with the most extreme example being saving the aforementioned rat-warrior from a worm-like monster. The dude will tell you exactly where and how to do your task. It isn’t that terrible thanks to the fact that you still have to figure out how to complete the things he asks of you by yourself, but still.
You might have figured it out by now, but Tormentum’s graphics are a real marvel to look at. The game won’t show you many pretty things, but the assets are genuinely creepy. Giger’s influence is ever-present in this world, so I hope you’re ready for some nightmares after finishing the game up. It’s the atmosphere of it, of this gruesome world, that takes it to the next level however. It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly sells the game, but it quickly and easily pulls you in.
To conclude, Tormentum: Dark Sorrow is one of those point ‘n’ click adventures you simply have to play. The unique, horrifying world the protagonist moves through is enough of a reasons as it is. Add to that some fun puzzle, puzzling dialogues and cryptic events and you’ve got yourself a great game. Don’t expect a good storyline however, nor characters, as these are little more than tools in the greater scheme of depicting the game’s truly monstrous universe.
Tormentum: Dark Sorrow Review
17th February 2015