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Game Info:

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Developed by: OhNoo Studio
Published by: OhNoo Studio
Released: March 4, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X
Genre: Adventure, horror
Number of players: 1 (offline)
Price: $11.99

Thank you, OhNoo Studios, for providing us a copy of this game to review!

The genre of “adventure game” tends to span a variety of literary genres as well. Humor tends to be one of the main ones, but horror tends to rank highly in terms of popularity as well. However, there aren't too many of them that also serve as a tribute to an artistic medium at the same time. Tormentum: Dark Sorrow manages to do this, successfully weaving an interesting story with an homage to horror artists. 

In the game, you control a mysterious, robed figure. He has no memory of who he is, but he's been taken to a grotesque prison because of apparent crimes in his life. First he needs to figure out how to escape by solving a variety of puzzles. After that, he needs to find a way to navigate a barren landscape in order to find a mysterious sculpture that he can remember. Along the way, he learns more about the hellish world he's found himself in. 

The hand-painted artwork in reminiscent of the styles of H. R. Giger (who inspired the appearance of the aliens in the “Aliens” franchise), Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński, or Joe Petagno and Derek Riggs (artists for the album covers of various heavy metal groups). The scenery features many skulls, skeletons, demonic-looking creatures, decaying, meaty tissues, or all of the above. In one instance, it looks like female figures are wearing breastplates with stylized nipples... or it could be partially nude statues. It's hard to tell, really. The artistic style is stunningly grotesque yet beautiful in its own right. It certainly isn't for everyone, though – I wouldn't recommend the game for children or young adults simply because of the imagery in the game. Fans of horror, Lovecraftian themes or the macabre would probably not be bothered by it, though. 

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting story; stylized artwork
Weak Points: Short; puzzles aren't terribly complex
Moral Warnings:  Artwork depicts frightening or horrific scenes; player can commit murder and other immoral actions; blood and gore; “d*mn” and “h*ll” are repeated often; some concepts and imagery are not Biblically-based

The scenery tends to have minimalistic animation to it. Creatures and objects tend to move a bit like paper puppets over a well-painted background. Items that can be clicked on tend to be illuminated by a glowing white ball, and the cursor changes from an arrow to a skeletal hand when moused over. This certainly eliminates the “pixel-clicker” problem that many adventure games wrestle with. The puzzles are not overly complex, and for some of the combination-type puzzles, significant clues to the answer can be found nearby – in a couple of cases, even in the same room the puzzle can be found. The character will take notes as he goes along, and the player can refer to that at any time to help solve the puzzles. The player also will be confronted by several choices as the game is played, and these choices are instrumental in determining which of the two game endings the player will receive.

The sound effects are minimal, and there is no voice acting in the game at all. The music does a good job with setting the mood for the game, but none of the tunes stand out as particularly memorable to me. Controls are done simply with the mouse pointer and a left-click, so there aren't any issues there at all. I did have the game lock up on me one time when I tried to back out of a scene after failing to solve a puzzle, but other than that, the game ran flawlessly, and even started up surprisingly quickly.

While the game definitely has some creepy, horrific elements to it, there aren't any jump-scares, chase scenes or other aspects that tend to be typical of horror games. Tormentum is more unsettling, rather than truly terrifying. However, there are other elements that may need to be considered, especially from a Christian perspective, but this ventures into spoiler territory. For those that don't want the ending to be spoiled, you may want to skip the next paragraph. 

 

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 52%
Violence - 2/10
Language - 6.5/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

+3 for depicting consequences of committing evil actions

It's already strongly implied as the game progresses that the cloaked figure is going through a sort of afterlife. It ultimately turns out to be a “second chance” to redeem himself from sins he committed in life. The final judge of the action – a “god figure,” as it were – turns out to be a woman with burning stars in her hair, embraced by two skeletal figures. Although it doesn't explicitly state that she serves as the god of the wasteland, she is the final judge of whether or not the hooded figure has redeemed himself. Additionally, there is only one correct path to receive the “good” ending. One moral error in the playthrough – even if it was accidental, or the player is misled by one of the other characters they will interact with – will automatically result in the “bad” ending, damning the figure's soul to Hell for an eternity of torment. It's possible that this could be excused for being a fantasy environment, but Christian themes of redemption and atonement are largely absent from the final judgment. Either live a perfect life, or suffer for eternity? Heavenly Father knows that mankind is flawed and could never receive redemption on their own, which is why He sent His son to offer forgiveness, and a guidepost to live our lives by. It makes me wonder if the game developers had in mind an alternative scenario for those faiths that do lack this atoning sacrifice – or maybe it's “just a game” and I'm reading too much into it.

In any case, the game can be played through in about four hours, and enough clues will be obtained by the end to determine how to get the other ending with a second playthrough. Since the puzzles remain unchanged the second time around, going through the game a second time can be even quicker. Every single Steam achievement could be obtained with three plays, and then there is little reason to play the game again, except for enjoying the sinister artwork.

Unfortunately, the game endings have an apparent tendency to reveal another glitch. On occasion, rather than showing the full ending – as well as unlocking the appropriate achievement – the game will loop an animation and ending song endlessly. This happened to me, and from what I've read, others also have experienced it. This happens most often when obtaining the “good” ending, but from what I've read on the forums, sometimes it happens during the “bad” ending as well. Reportedly a fix is in the works, but as of this writing, it still hasn't been implemented.

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow is an interesting, yet short, tribute to gothic art coupled with an intriguing, albeit not unfamiliar, storyline. It certainly isn't for everyone, though – and especially not a game for children. Caution is advised when playing this game or gifting it to others, but for those who aren't bothered by the creepy scenery, the $11.99 may be worth the price of admission.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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