As a horror fan, I was glad to discover a new psychological horror title during the PlayStation 5 event, in between the announcements on Horizon 2 and a new Spider-Man game. That horror title is In Sound Mind, by the developer with the most original name ever – We Create Stuff.
I grew up playing games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, so In Sound Mind immediately caught my attention with its 90s vibe. I was delighted to find out that the game has a demo on Steam everyone can try, which of course, I immediately downloaded and played.
No Sound Minds Here
In Sound Mind feels like a tribute to 90s horror games. The settings, the graphics, and the sounds create the same kind of atmosphere of the horror games of my youth. My biggest issue with horror games today is that they rely too much on jump scares instead of the deep-rooted terror that lurks in our collective subconscious.
But this here game is full of terror – it practically oozes from every nook and cranny, and I am thankful for that.
You begin the game in a dark basement, with no memory of how you got there. With no memory at all, for that matter. You slowly make your way through the basement and up to the second floor, where you encounter the villain. He, in turn, provide us with more information about who we are.
Apparently, we are a therapist, but not a very good one if we’re to believe the villain as he taunts us over the phone. It seems that throughout the game, we’ll explore our former patient’s troubled minds, which will manifest as new locations full of all sorts of creatures and dangers. Our first patient takes us to a big, haunted supermarket. There, we have to help her confront her fear and trauma by solving puzzles, all while avoiding the monsters lurking about.
There is always the question of whether what we see is real or a product of madness, which a great way to keep us invested in the story. Even after finishing the demo, there were still a lot of questions left unanswered – it is just a preview build, after all.
Get a Hold of Yourself
In Sound Mind follows a classic first-person horror formula. You can jump, climb, crouch behind objects, and even sprint for a limited time. It even has the mandatory flashlight that devours batteries.
The gameplay is mostly driven by riddles and puzzles, and they are often not easy to solve. It took me a while to figure out some of the problems, but feeling stumped by a game is always refreshing this day and age. The game doesn’t lead you by the hand, like some modern games do, but rather leaves you enough clues to figure the solution for yourself if you think hard enough.
Apart from the puzzles, there are the monsters that you can try to avoid or fight in classic survival horror fashion. Some of the combat mechanics are unclear, and by the time you reach your first real danger, the tutorial is pretty much over. Figuring out the mechanics has cost me my life more than once. However, death is meaningless here – you just reload the last checkpoint, and these are pretty generous.
The atmosphere is one of pure terror, and I mean it in a good way. Instead of startling the player with sudden noises or movements, In Sound Mind uses subtle visuals and sounds to slowly freak you out. Someone watches you from the dark, mannequins move while you’re not looking, giggles and cries in the distance – all create a constant feeling of dread without any cheap tricks.
The villain connects through random phones scattered all over the map. The sound of a phone ringing creates a mix of horror and anticipation. How does he know where I am, and what is he going to reveal next? I must give a huge thumbs-up to whoever did the sound design in this game.
In Sound Mind is a story-driven, single-player horror game that provides diverse and engaging gameplay. I hope the hiccups I encountered during the demo (and that awful inventory system) will be fixed by early 2021, when the game comes out for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
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