Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: True Fear - Forsaken Souls Part 1 [Nintendo Switch eShop]


It’s officially that time of year when gamers begin to look around for something that’ll throw a little something extra spooky, creepy, or worse at them. Last year the pickings weren’t all that great on the Switch but I’d hoped this year would compensate. Unfortunately, to this point it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting much. However, I’m glad to report that while True Fear: Forsaken Souls Part 1 may not provide the gaming experience or terror some may be hoping for, it’s a well-made puzzle adventure experience whose story is just creepy enough to keep from disappointing.


You play through this adventure as a young woman who has some dark secrets in her past concerning her mother and sister, searching for answers. Through the game’s 3 Acts (with an additional stage thrown in for good measure) you’ll not only need to solve a myriad of puzzles but you’ll be stalked by visions and spooky encounters as well. Did your mother die carrying a dark secret with her? Is the young girl in these frightening visions real? As the game comes to a close you’ll be left with some revelations but since this is a trilogy there’s still more to be revealed.


In terms of the mechanics this is a generally well-produced puzzle adventure, with elements of hidden object puzzles, countless conundrums to be solved by using your wits, and perhaps some hints along the way. In order to keep things moving and reduce aimless wandering hitting the plus button to bring up a screen showing all rooms, displaying a “!” on whichever ones have something to be done in them, is a terrific enhancement. Aside from keeping yourself from getting lost in the maze of rooms in the large Act 2 map there are simply so many balls that you’ll have in the air at a time that keeping track of which room had which loose end in it can be overwhelming. Instead being able to be guided through and simply enjoy solving the puzzles is a great touch.


The Hint system, depending on which difficulty you choose, is very helpful and in some cases is vital, especially in handheld mode. Some items, even highlighted with sparkles, can be very tough to spot and having the option to hit the hint to show you what you should have been looking for saves a lot of frustration. Truthfully there are multiple hours of content to enjoy here even if you’re moving at top speed so playing on the tougher skill levels (which you can adjust at any time in the menu) serves little purpose, it’s better to have the hints when you need them and simply enjoy yourself since there’s no discernable penalty for doing so. The default bright level also veers a bit too dark, as some details I struggled to make out without brightening it up a bit. Nothing critical is wrong, just these tips should save some unnecessary frustrations.


As a whole package True Fear works reasonably well as a light-ish horror game that builds up some suspense through creepy ambiance and will throw in a mild scare every once in a while. The story was well constructed enough that I was eager to make my way through the puzzles to learn your character’s fate and look forward to her continued journey in the sequels. While some additional refinement in the interface and puzzles would be nice, every game of this kind can get a bit weird with what it wants you to do in order to progress, I actually have few qualms with it overall and would very much recommend it to anyone looking for a casual puzzle experience with some spooky elements thrown in.

Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Spooky elements and ambiance are all around, delivering just enough suspense to be fun without being terribly scary
  • While the story may not be incredibly original it layers in enough intrigue to make the sequel feel justified and welcome
  • The ability to jump to any room and see which ones have something current to do in them is a terrific time saver and very well designed

Cons:
  • If you’re looking for more hardcore scares or gameplay you’ll be disappointed
  • Some of the items needed to complete certain puzzles can be strange, but that’s no unusual in the genre