Tormentum

“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”

Immanuel Kant

This is what Tormentum starts with, a well known quotation from one of the most popular philosophers Germany has to offer. What defines human ethics? Is reason the source of morality? You should know by now that Tormentum neither answers this questions solely nor tries to do so, but stimulating the player’s mind with radical issues presented in gruesome but hand-painted actions and pictures instead of reading Kant’s essay might work better, at least for gamers. Your actions and decisions will affect your story, always leaving you behind with one question left. Did I make the right choice?

Introduction done. Don’t worry, this is not about philosophy, it is about Tormentum, a game that looks like our worst nightmares got caught and painted by H.R.Giger. Some of those bad dreams might even haunt you after the game is over but even then you just can’t stop looking at every small detail, whether it looks amusing, terrifying or violent. Speaking of terror and violence, we should take a look at Tormentum’s story. You are…well. Who are you? You are somebody,  yet no one. A poor creature wearing a capuchin, that gets imprisoned in an old, horrendous looking castle, threatened with torture and punishment for sins you cannot remember. Survival is your only thought and thus keeps your motivation alive even after having seen the suffering your new home has to offer. Prepare for morale choices that will not only affect yourself and keep that one thing in mind: Nobody is what they claims to be.

While Tormentum does look like a classic point-and-click at first sight, it uses some hidden object influences, mixes it up and combines them with classical puzzles and riddles. These are not unbeatable since you will find many clues but expect to be fairly challenged. May it be the right time on a watch, a certain melody that needs to be played or a man-eating worm that blocks your path, you will love the variety. There is no button for highlighting things, some objects have a unique glow instead whilst others can be hard to find sometimes. Additionally, objects can neither be combined in your inventory nor used for multiple actions. This may sounds simple but it fits the idea Tormentum wants to convey. The only time this really bothered me was early on after the start where you get confronted with many different scenes and tasks. If one link is missing in the chain you get stuck forever, running through the same backgrounds multiple times. These are eyecatchers even after passing them again and again, so do not lose  your confidence, there is a clue or hint for everything.

Before listing major points, I want to take a second look at the atmosphere Tormentum creates. I can’t talk enough about the graphics, or better, art OhNoo Studio created here. There won’t be many scenes you may find peaceful or cheering though, but would you really expect that to happen when a game is called Tormentum? You will witness pain, torture and suffering, everywhere. One can only imagine how a world would look like where evil lurks everywhere and redemption seems to be the only escape, but if this world really exists I fear it would look like Tormentum. Creepy People and Creatures, a dying land, epic but disgusting monuments, fire that rains from the sky, everything brought to life or death with hand-drawn masterpieces. Whoever created the soundtrack and effects should be awarded, too. My first impression was a bit monotonous but it quickly became the perfect skin for its cadaverous body. Emotions can be heard without even knowing what happens in the current scene.

Big Text, Quick Facts:

Pro:

  • Oustanding artwork, inspired by H.R.Giger and Others – brutal and otherworldly
  • Emotional Plot with moral choices and multiple endings – mature and philosophical
  • A soundtrack that captures the essence of pain and sorrow
  • Various Puzzles and Riddles offer good challenges – without interrupting the plot too much
  • Interesting side stories to learn – Nobody is what he claims to be

Con:

  • Every riddle has a hint – but finding those gets annoying sometimes since objects cannot be highlighted and some puzzles simply can’t be solved without the matching clue
  • Some things will happen – no matter which choice you made
  • Small bug – using steam overlay lowers the fps while writing. Chatting and Tormentum shouldn’t be combined anyway.

Summary:

Seeing this game getting Greenlit on steam made me proud and happy since I backed it on Kickstarter myself, but when it got released the two of us couldn’t match. I am not a fan of Hidden Object games and playing the first couple of minutes I felt that this was not the game I expected. My opinion changed as you might have already guessed.

Once the story gets its hands on you, luring you with choices, challenging with puzzles, playing with morality and disturbing with violence, Tormentum starts to become more than just a piece of unforgettable sound, visuals and artwork. Staring at the screen for more than 5 minutes, pondering your next decision, you will ask yourself again: What is the right choice? Whether you know Kant or not, this will affect you.
Verdict: 8,5 / 10