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Tormentum - Dark Sorrow (PC) artwork

Tormentum - Dark Sorrow (PC) review


"Macabre diet adventuring."


Tormentum - Dark Sorrow comes from a weird place. It advertises itself as a point and click adventure but shares more aesthetics with hidden object games, then it turns out to be both of the above whilst technically being neither. Itís a confusing state of affairs, all right. Let me try to untangle things with roundabout rambling. Itís the only way I know.

Set against a series of brilliantly gothic backdrops that have seemingly drawn inspiration from the likes of H.R Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, Tormentum is a game presented against hand-painted horror. Such is the fate of your hooded protagonist who has (in a stroke of pure originality) suffered amnesia and finds himself trapped within a cage alongside a large armoured rat. Hanging from the fleshy underbelly of a bizarre zeppelin, heís ferried off to a jail cell to rot.



His world is that of apocalyptic misery. Fiery comets slam into the barren earth outside his cell while nightmarish knights visit his bars to describe the torture that awaits before heís left alone with the small collection of skeletons chilling in the bunks. Those of you expecting a series of lateral inventory puzzles at this point are only going to be half right; your key to escape is to pluck a small metal plate from the beak of a nearby crow and, eh, undo some screws on your cell door, solve a simple cogwheel puzzle then wander off unchallenged.

Though billed as a point and click adventure, Tormemtum has little in common with the genre staples like Broken Sword or Monkey Island. Rarely, if ever, will the items you collect and jam into the infinite confines of your cloak have to be assembled together into some wacky contraption that conveniently bypasses the obstacle of the moment. Exit your cell and you find a shard of mirror. On the next screen over, you find a broken mirror in need of some reflective shards. Explore your cell and excavate a jeweled eye from one of the skeletons. On the same screen as the broken mirror is a statue with empty sockets for eyes.



Thereís rarely a hidden motive for collecting items and everything has a clear purpose, so puzzling comes in to form of, well, puzzles. And herein starts the unwelcome comparisons to the hidden object genre. Kind of, anyway, because as a genre, itís moved away from presenting random screen full of jumble and asking you to pick out three blue telephones and a heron yet has someone still kept its name. I mean, I donít know what else to call it without having to start using the world casual unironically, and Iím far too sober to attempt that.

To be clear, the kinds of object searching both genres are famed for are nonexistent in Tormentum. You rarely have to junk-sort or pixel hunt as hotspots are highlighted by a flickering aura of light. Instead, the game turns to the logic puzzles that have evolved in their place, which doesnít have to be a bad thing. You can obtain a jewel by lowering the right corpse-laden cages chronicled in a desperate sketch found outside your cell. Piecing together the broken mirror asks you to manipulate rays of light to open a passageway further into the nightmare-choked castle. Fixing a series of fuses and collecting the tattooed remains of a skeleton summons an electrified ghost you can help put to rest. Itís either that or spend more time taunting the giant needle-toothed worm who jealously guards your rat chumís jail.



Thereís no doubt that Tormentum has been crafted with excruciating love. The gruesomely beautiful backdrops are crafted with talent while the subtle music has been produced with a real intelligence towards the best ambience to provide. Thereís moments of genuine creepiness that reach further than the gothic visuals and emanate from the game itself. The eating habits of a gruesome spider kept imprisoned in the depths of the castle; the discovery of a long abandoned execution chamber gone awry.

On the other hand, I refuse to believe thereís anyone out there who have ever thought ďOh boy; another variation of a sliding tile puzzle!Ē and creeping gothic horror isnít particularly known for its routine pauses while your partake in a graphical representation of homework. There are moralistic choices interspersed throughout, but theyíre sometimes infuriatingly unclear. It was never my intention to kill the horned guard innocently mutilating the corpse of a passed-along captive, but, after hacking into his torture device, the button I assumed would turn it off instead drove a myriad of spikes into his face. Whoops. You are asked to present a powerful artifact to one of two people but might only find out after youíve made this trade that one of them is actually kind of a dick and you should instead have gone with the one you know zero about. Getting the obligatory good ending will probably depend on getting 100% of these choices correct and the slightest blemish could undo all your hard work.



All this combines to make Tormentum - Dark Sorrow a very frustrating experience. I was oftentimes desperate to advance the game just to see the next stunning bit of artwork, or to wallow a little further in the macabre, but resigned to the fact that there was a high probability of a sliding block puzzle being in my near future.

3/5

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (March 12, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Suskie posted March 12, 2015:

*Michael
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Suskie posted March 12, 2015:

Also, "H.G. Griger," huh?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 12, 2015:

Ah yes, I heard Ripley Scott and Jimes Cameron borrowed from his work when they made the Allen movies.
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Suskie posted March 12, 2015:

Apparently Noel Blondecarp is directing the new one.
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EmP posted March 12, 2015:

You know, every time I try and quote something Alien related I make an awful typo. Last time I tried to suggest that Ridley Scott was responsible for James Cameron's film. The time after that I wrote about Colonial marines, which was a just one giant mistake in itself.
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Suskie posted March 13, 2015:

IT'S STILL NOT SPELLED PROPERLY. H.R. GIGER. OH MY GOD.

I SUPPOSE I CAN'T KEEP UP IN THE ALPHA MARATHON SO LONG AS I'M HOLDING MYSELF TO A STANDARD.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 13, 2015:

I think I can hear a Xenomorph weeping acidic tears somewhere. You can't hear anyone scream in space, but apparently you can hear an alien cry. I'll be damned...
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EmP posted March 13, 2015:

Edit not made at 6am applied.

That's what he gets for not designing any more games after Dark Seed.

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