“Doctor Rosemary Reed, if that is indeed your REAL name...”
Clock Tower is a long-running survival horror game series featuring dangerous stalkers attempting to murder the player. Remothered: Tormented Fathers takes heavy inspiration from its formula while simultaneously averting a number of slasher-movie tropes. Remothered has had a long and storied development. It began as a Clock Tower fan project in 2010 and released earlier this year as a new IP. Players assume the role of Rosemary Reed, a 35-year-old woman investigating the disappearance of Celeste, a young girl.
Ms. Reed investigation takes her to the home of Richard Felton, a retired notary, and his wife, Arianna. She arrives at the Felton residence in a grimy white van smoking a cigarette. So far, not exactly prime “Final Girl” material. She meets with Mr. Felton's nurse, Gloria, and introduces herself to Mr. Felton. She claims that she is personally looking into his case regarding a chronic illness he contracted in Egypt. During a heated conversation about his medical history and his adopted daughter Celeste, Gloria reveals that “Doctor Rosemary Reed” is not a doctor at all. Richard orders Rosemary to leave, her cover now blown. She sneaks in again later that night, only to find herself trapped inside with a murderous Richard Felton. But Mr. Felton isn’t the only one out for Rosemary’s blood. Rosemary will have to use her wits and some well-placed knitting needles to survive and uncover the horrors in Felton villa.
It’s little surprise that Felton doesn't appreciate Rosemary Reed sneaking around. Despite being clad in heels and a pencil skirt, she is quite stealthy. While she is skilled at remaining undetected, running around the house is sure to attract attention.
To protect herself, Rosemary can carry three Distraction Items and a Defense Item to slow down enemies if they’ve already spotted her. If she has enough stamina, she can also attempt to evade an enemy’s attack and rush past them. Rosemary dies if an enemy grabs her without a Defense Item. These are typically single-use items, consumed when Rosemary successfully executes a (very easy) QTE. Fortunately, these items are quite plentiful. As long as the player doesn’t go out of their way to attract attention, they will always have something. Rosemary can hide underneath couches and inside cabinets as well. These are effective, but require you to put some distance between Rosemary and her attacker.
Rosemary can take some damage before actually dying, usually around 2-3 good hits. There's no health bar, but Rosemary looks bloodier as she gets hurt and will begin whimpering from the pain, as well. Special mirrors restore her health and allow the player to save. All in all, the game’s difficulty isn’t too frustrating aside from a couple of points. Sure enough, these points are when stealth and evasion are difficult or impossible. Specifically, the waterway sequence is a series of QTEs that, if failed, result in an instant death. The wine cellar is also a nightmare to navigate. The long, narrow, and well-lit hallways, coupled with a lack of hiding spots, make it easy for your pursuer to find you and hard for you to shake them.
While Richard Felton's illness harmed his eyesight, he has excellent hearing. Sprinting through the house alerts him to your location, but items such as radios and televisions cover your footsteps for a while. Thus, the player has to weigh the benefits of moving quicker and creating more noise against a silent, but slower, approach.
Despite making good use of musical and sound cues, the voice acting during cutscenes falls flat. Characters rush their lines out one after the other and the story suffers for it. The voice lines during gameplay, however, are much better-executed. Hearing hushed, raspy prayers or the humming of a nearby stalker is a good, unnerving indication to be careful.
Perhaps my favorite part of the game is when the power goes out. The only ambient light comes from occasional flashes of lightning. Hearing Richard croak out parts of Old MacDonald as he searched for Rosemary was a terrifying experience. Navigating down to flip the breaker in complete darkness was a definite highlight.
As previously mentioned, characters in cutscenes speak quickly, often as soon as another character has finished their line. The effect comes across as a bit jarring and unnatural. Additionally, characters tend to gesticulate pretty wildly. This can come across as funny, charming, or just plain weird. Rosemary's walking animation seems a bit much, but her awkward running animation makes sense when the player remembers she's got a handbag and heels.
I can't speak for the other localizations yet, but the English translations of a lot of documents are rather poor. The text's phrasing probably works in Italian (the original language), but in English is stilted and clumsy. This definitely hampers comprehension of the complex story.
As far as controls, the game is pretty straightforward. Gone are the days of awkward, clumsy tank controls. A short tutorial (which can be turned off) guides new players. A button switches between two views, which is very handy for peeking around corners. In the console version, the targeting for things such as doors and items is rather finicky. This usually isn't a problem unless the player is fleeing pursuit. If sneaking around, the player can open doors a crack to see if the enemy is about. Rosemary can hold a door shut for a few moments to buy herself time. When running, she barges straight through them. The player has a lot of options for dealing with their pursuers, and I liked being able to choose my approach (or, rather, method of evasion) based on my circumstances.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers Review | Final Thoughts
Remothered: Tormented Fathers is not perfect. It has its flaws, but it captures the unease and dread of feeling trapped with a murderer. Rosemary Reed herself is a pretty shady individual, and I like that the game diverges from the idea of a goodhearted young heroine. The way the game simultaneously embraces and rejects many trappings of horror might not appeal to everyone. Remothered: Tormented Fathers, like Clock Tower, is fairly short and even more linear. Its story answers some questions, but leaves others unanswered and even creates new ones by the end. Overall, though, I'd suggest giving it a look. This first entry in the planned Remothered trilogy is a tense, thrilling foray into classic survival horror. Players who enjoyed Haunting Ground, Rule of Rose, or the older Clock Tower games will feel right at home. Even as they break into someone else's.
TechRaptor reviewed Remothered: Tormented Fathers on PlayStation 4 with a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on Xbox One and PC via Steam.
- Genuinely Tense Atmosphere
- Soundtrack Enhances Horror
- Pleasing Visuals
- Both Breaks and Embraces Horror Conventions
- Poor Written Translations
- Dialogue in Cutscenes Rushed
- Somewhat Convoluted Story