Another title in the library shouting for attention, the In Sound Mind demo has finally had some screen time. From WeCreateStuff and Modus Games, this is a psychological horror in a first-person perspective, available as a playable demo on Steam.
Horror games are popular for many reasons – the consensus of fear of the unknown, being scared silly and perhaps getting your adrenaline going at the forefront. Maybe jumpscares cuts it for you, gore, or the paranormal. For me, the inner mind is worse with games such as What Happened. What is reality?
A bizarre comparison, but the In Sound Mind demo shares similarities with Isolationist Nightclub Simulator in its lighting application. Where the latter is about laser shows and dry ice, the former is an unintentional light show as you’re flicking your torch on and off to save on batteries as you explore intentionally poor lit locations.
The In Sound Mind demo relies upon a flashlight quite early on and a mechanic that evidently works well in horror and creating a sense of unease. It’s an accurate portrayal of the humble torch as you have to search the odds and sods draw to replace the batteries or unscrew the kids’ toys. Thankfully in the game, they’re scattered about for you to pick up.
This worked well with the Outlast series and many that followed. As someone who doesn’t really play horror titles that often, it’s still relatively fresh from my stance, though I appreciate others may tire of it. I wasn’t a fan of the finite supply of energy – fearful I’d be left in the dark, so would flick the flashlight on and off in nooks and crannies in case there was an item to pick up.
The In Sound Mind demo is a bit of a backtracker in that you have to solve puzzles and return to areas you couldn’t navigate before. Crawlspaces, locked doors – the usual types to hinder your progress that we’ve come to expect. In the opener, it’s about restarting a lift, then soon after, retrieving parts of a gun to rebuild and arm yourself against these… hallucinations?
Survival horrors and FPS titles are two-a-penny, so what makes In Sound Mind any different? It’s primarily the psychological stance; evoking instability and uncertainty as you play Dr Desmond Wales, haunted by his patients’ voices through audio cassettes located throughout the game.
Returning to your office, you play these cassettes, unlocking a lucid dream-like sequence where you relive a patient’s encounter, triggering tape players as you progress through jumping sections and problem-solving. These set pieces are disjointed, in a good way, boasting some impressive visuals and ominous tones, but the platforming bits, so to speak, are horrible.
Jumping from one car to another in a first-person view without any control or aftertouch of the leap’s intensity results in many swift deaths in the water. Fortunately, you respawn without any complication, and to put it in perspective, these sections only took a few minutes. That didn’t stop it from being irritating though.
The level design is well structured and doesn’t feel samey as a lot of similar titles do. The strongest point is the sound design from where I’m sitting (sipping a cocktail on the beach). Ambient sounds and the In Sound Mind demo score have to be some of the best I’ve heard. To underline a point. I’d often stay in one play just to listen in – it was superb.
And the lighting effects get a nod too, which was mentioned early on. Due to the nature of this psychological adventure, you’ll encounter visions that and spectrums that are fascinating. Fresh off the tail of my Lovecraft phase, it gives the illusion of The Colour Out Of Space with its RGB-like purples that any streamer would be accustomed to.
But the final point has to be said about the mysterious voice that calls you on a payphone throughout, tormenting you almost with your past and identity. It’s noteworthy stuff, but all I can think of is James Coburn as the voice of Henry J. Waternoose in Monsters, Inc.
There’s no date confirmed yet for In Sound Mind, but you can add to your wishlist, or even better – play the demo now.