Life begets life; life begets death. Death begets darkness; darkness begets forgiveness; forgiveness begets sorrow. Through repetition, there is meaning, through meaning, there can be hope, and through balance, solidarity. What is this supposed to mean? Find out more after the jump.
Tormentum - Dark Sorrow is different; rarely has there been a title for a game that is so uniquely suitable. This point and click title by OhNoo Studio delights in showing powerful and morbid imagery, while simultaneously asking involving questions of itself and the player. Altogether, Tormentum does its best to make the player feel emotions that bely its beautiful although conflictingly simple trappings, something that will become more and more evident as the review progresses.
During the beginning of this three to five hour title, the player finds himself captured and placed in a prison with no memories and doomed to a painful death. However, fate has other plans for you, and soon the player begins a literal and metaphorical ascension or descent, as Tormentum offers you a choice. Throughout the escape, the player is given opportunities to commit either good or evil, to both the deserving and the dammed.
These decisions all tie together in the end as you trudge towards the ending of Tormentum. Should you go through the game without the aid of a guide, there is no one but your own conscious morality to grapple over your decisions with. Do you save, or do you kill? Do you deny or do you destroy? The choices are ultimately yours to decide.
Overall, Tormentum has a simple story, and to go into it in any more detail would risk spoiling the narrative experience. There is a free demo included here that allows players to glimpse the beginning of the story for this title and the graphics, which are indeed gorgeous.
From the screenshots that are littered throughout this review, there is one thing that should be quickly obvious: the aesthetic of OhNoo’s title are like the rest of the game – bleak and depressing. While they are as previously described, it cannot be denied that the settings and backgrounds are stunning, almost as if they are paintings brought to life through sheer malevolence and despair.
This is brought forth in its writing as well, and if the player so desires, a number of disturbing and intriguing backstories are brought to life through scattered notes and intimate conversations that can be found throughout the game, while having a silent protagonist as the 'hero'. The player never does speak during the game, but there are NPC’s (Non Player Characters) that do, and what is said by these characters are believable, showing a visible layer of distrust while sometimes offering players (mostly depending on the actions of said player) of different subtleties that lie underneath.
Thankfully, Tormentum boasts no characters that have distinct black and white code of morality, but rather characters that are all composed of varying shades of grey. These characters are never constant, but they help to weave together a fiction that is never completely laid out, making you want more of this universe in the end.
There are a few niggling things. Sometimes usable items are hard to pick out, and as a result you may find yourself traipsing from room to room, looking for items that should have already been found. Most of the time they are outlined in a soft white glow, but this is not always the case.
As you search for usable things to aid your escape, it is quickly realized that there are few actual options for this game, as shown in the two pictures below.
As you begin the journey, the game's overall direction can be somewhat confusing, but this quickly fades away as each unique room quickly becomes burned into your mind. It's soundtrack is also one of those things, with each piece of music for each separate area perfectly suited for whatever the player faces, whether it be sad, dreary, angry, or just there. It has a distinctly used feel, with the other portions of its audio doing its best to providing a unsettling and timeworn experience, although some of the actual audio sounds distinctly low-budget, such as walking up and down stairs or noises that are made when some items are picked up.
While no excuses are being made, the game was clearly made on a very low budget, as seen by their IndieGoGo campaign. This is also seen by the previously shown options menu, its sparseness providing very little in actual options for players. There is no windowed or borderless windowed mode, with the fullscreen option literally zoomed in or out with a black border around the screen. At an observed 1920 x 1080 resolution, the zoomed out view was perfectly fine for gameplay, although it is an something that could (and perhaps should) have been averted.
In terms of the real meat of the game, the actual pointing and clicking, there is not much to discuss. In this respect it is what is expected of a point and click, where solving puzzles are paramount from a gameplay perspective. Ultimately, Tormentum's gameplay is serviceable and achieves what it sets out to do. There were times where it felt clunky, particularly at a few points where you had to shuffle or consistently reusing the same item, slightly betraying its low-budget origins, overall the game was perfectly functional.
This is a game that utilizes everything it has to maximum effect, which is in spite of its relatively low gametime – it only takes around three to five hours to complete this game all the way through. The replayability is there if one wants to see the good and bad endings, along with the choices that lead to these endings along the way, but aside from that there is very little to entice another playthrough. This helps to make its price, at a regular cost of $11.99 US, an interesting proposition. As mentioned previously there is a demo for those who are intrigued, but there is still a decision that has to be made in the end, one that is keenly reflected in the ending: is it worth it?
Disclosure: the Tormentum - Dark Sorrow review copy was obtained from OhNoo Studio and reviewed on PC.
Tormentum – Dark Sorrow is grim, depressing, and not for the faint of heart. Do not expect a traditional feeling of ‘fun’ whilst playing this title, but instead a deeper feeling of satisfaction as everything clicks into place. Recommended for point and click fans and the morbidly curious, or perhaps for those who look for beauty in the darkest of places.