PC/Mac Reviews

Tormentum – Dark Sorrow Review: H.R. Giger’s Fever Dream

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The world of Steam Greenlight has yielded a lot of bad games. The system has garnered criticism for allowing people to submit terrible games and bribe voters with free Steam keys. So, when you see that Tormentum – Dark Sorrow has been approved by Steam Greenlight, you might be worried that the game would not be good. Yet, this process has allowed for a small, three person team to sell one of the most visually striking adventure games ever created.

Tormentum has you playing as a nameless protagonist in a world gone mad.As the game opens, your character is arrested by a group of holy knights, charged with keeping the world pure. All your character remembers is a statue of a woman opening her arms to him. After being thrown into jail, you decide to escape and try to find out exactly what happened and why he doesn’t have any memories.

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The first thing you notice in Tormentum is just how stunning the visuals are. Every scene features almost exclusively static characters on a two dimensional plane. Yet every single environment is haunting and terrifying. The development crew has stated that the environments were inspired by H.R. Giger and they clearly weren’t kidding. Landscapes are horrifying, with sharp, jagged mountains covering the world. Creatures in the world range from, “Oh, that’s weird”, to “Oh lord kill it with fire!” It makes you feel uneasy in every single environment.

That feeling of dread prevades the entire game. While there aren’t any encounters where you need to fight monsters, it always feels like something could attack you at any moment. It’s haunting, even well after the game is finished.

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Thankfully, the game itself isn’t all that long. That’s not to say the game is bad at all. Rather, had the game gone on much longer than the three or so hours it takes to finish, you’d easily feel fatigued of all of all of the weird scenery. With its short run time, every area feels fresh.

The gameplay complements the scenery very well. Tormentum is a point and click game in the vein of a Machinarium or Botanicula. Each chapter of the game starts with nothing in your inventory. Everything you find in that chapter is used exclusively in that chapter. You don’t need to backtrack to the beginning of the game to find an item. This helps the flow of the game immensely and leaves you feeling lost very few times.

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That said, there are a couple of minor issues with the game. The first is that, while the environments are beautiful, they can make it so that items blend into the environment. While each item will generally highlight itself so that this doesn’t happen, there are a couple of times where you need to interact with areas that you don’t think you can interact with. One puzzle in particular requires you to read a specific sign to get a code. Normally, you don’t find anything useful on these signs so it takes you off guard when, in this puzzle, it’s critical that you do.

The other issue that Tormentum has is its moral choices. If you are looking to get the good ending, you need to never once do the wrong thing. At an early stage, you need to get a guard to move out of your way. You’re given the chance to kill the guard and if you do, you risk screwing up a “Good” playthrough. It’s especially tricky when you consider that one of the late game choices actually doesn’t seem like you are making the “Bad” choice.

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That said, Tormentum is a brilliantly dark world. Every single piece of art is absolutely stunning and the gameplay complements it well. It has a perfect length for what it is and the world stays with you well after you’re finished. There are a few minor complaints but for how well everything else is put together, they can easily be looked past. Tormentum is one of the most strikingly visual adventure games and the small team at OhNoo Studio should be proud of what they’ve made.

SCORE : 9.0 out of 10

A code for Tormentum – Dark Sorrow was provided to Pixel Related for review.

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