From a traditional survival horror perspective, In Sound Mind ticks all the genre’s boxes: Intense boss fights with oversized monstrosities? Check! Forgot which way you were going and can’t find the next area? Check! Getting stuck on an extremely difficult, yet somehow stupidly easy puzzle after you actually figure out what to do? Quadruple check!
Rolling In The Deep Puzzles
Ladies & Gents, I cannot remember the last time I got stuck on a game’s brainteasers for over an hour and still wanted to keep playing, but In Sound Mind has finally made that a reality. However, even though a few of the solutions are absolutely ridiculous, the amount of fun I was having trying to figure them out was more than worth the effort.
The game has all sorts of great Silent Hill and Resident Evil types of puzzles too. All the way from finding key items in a creepy dark labyrinth, to creating some sort of medicinal T-Virus… Thing that the protagonist just puts together like he’s making a risotto. There’s even this small mirror shard weapon that the player receives early on, which lets the protagonist perceive objects invisible to the naked eye. This one mechanic adds a nifty layer of puzzle-solving to the mix but also makes for a catalog of spooky scary moments.
As a whole, In Sound Mind is mostly a matter of solving A&B to progress, but I love how it makes you think constructively about your surroundings and focus on environmental aspects that you normally wouldn’t with other games.
The Achilles Heel of In Sound Mind
Well, except for when it doesn’t… A very frustrating encounter I can recall involving a raging bull and a conveyor belt sequence made me almost want to kick my brand new PC off a cliff. And on more than one occasion – this really sucked – certain doors would just suddenly unlock themselves after a specific checkpoint. Meaning you could be scouring around for ages to progress, but the answer had already been chilling in front of your face the entire time!… A-yup, my leg was halfway out the door at this point. Unfortunately, after a while you kind of get used to checking all the locked doors multiples times throughout. Although let’s be honest, players shouldn’t have to do that. There’s a few other occasions like this which I won’t spoil, but they’re all bound to drag down your experience of the game sooner or later.
When it comes to the survival horror elements though, In Sound Mind is actually quite great. A range of scenarios like the aforementioned mirror shard scenes make for some truly unique scares, which definitely helps keep the player on their toes. And a few of the game’s set-pieces and bosses will really test how well you can think under pressure. Most of the time, I couldn’t wait to see what was around the corner.
However, the one major exception to these elements are the basic enemies of the game. The main herky-jerky-looking dudes with the spotlights might seem intimidating at first, but once you realise how slow and pathetic they are, they pretty much become just a pure annoyance. Basically, anything other than a threat. Even if you somehow run out of ammo, these guys can easily be skipped past with the main character’s breakneck, Sonic The Hedgehog (why on earth is he so fast?) level of speed. It is cool how you can find hidden collectibles to upgrade your sprint, stealth, stamina and HP as well, although it quickly makes a relatively comfortable game a brisk walk in the park.
The Peculiar Story & Presentation of In Sound Mind
In regards to the story, In Sound Mind revolves around protagonist Desmond Wales, a therapist who’s forced to explore the minds of four specific characters and their reflection on his own psyche. It’s a simple premise, albeit a powerful one as it delves into some extremely sensitive topics that’ll likely resonate in some way, shape or form with the audience. I am a big fan of the way it’s told, with its intimate tape-recorded conversations and little scraps of lore you can discover throughout the game. The voice acting is not too shabby either. But I think it would’ve been even better if the player could witness even more of Desmond’s interactions with his patients. If you’ve got something good going, then you might as well revel in it!
And the music does just that. It’d be a crime not to mention how awesome the game’s soundtrack from The Living Tombstones is. Instead of just sticking to the cliche ambient synth pads and string chord stabs of traditional horror titles, The Living Tombstones have incorporated all sorts of diverse music genres and soundscapes, in addition to some seriously catchy vocal tunes and melodies to bop along with. I also loved how you could find these secret vinyl discs around the map that would play a style of music befitting of a certain character. With each song’s lyrics highlighting the person’s flaws and deepest inner thoughts they wouldn’t dare tell anyone. It’s those little touches like this that make In Sound Mind’s presentation really stand out.
In Sound Mind has an intriguing collection of concepts and ideas, but a concept alone doesn’t necessarily make for a fun experience. Even though it contains a myriad of visually striking horror moments and challenging gameplay, other parts of the adventure can really weigh down on the player’s level of interest and enjoyment. All things considered, this horror game has some marvelous puzzles, amazing atmosphere, spectacular music and a decent story to boot. It’s not the greatest horror title you’ve ever played, but the 10-15 hour journey is certainly worth a try.
In Sound Mind nails a majority of the typical survival horror elements and then some. It’s just a pity that a couple of rotten game design aspects drag down an otherwise top-notch presentation and puzzle construction. It’s an easy pick-up for horror fans, but be warned – there will be several moments of frustration.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Modus Games. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.