Autumn is upon us, and with it Halloween! It’s a great time for spooky experiences of all sorts. Naturally, I’d never say someone should only restrict horror games to a particular month, as the genre’s great all year ’round, but the Halloween season is particularly appropriate. A game like In Sound Mind, a psychological horror adventure, just might be the right call for this time of year.
It’s never the start of a good time when you wake up in an unfamiliar location without your memory. That’s exactly where In Sound Mind opens – you’re in a spooky apartment building with no indication of how you got there or who you are. A few things quickly come to light, though – you’re a psychologist by trade, the building is clearly full of nasty monsters, and there’s someone who keeps calling you on the phone to let you know quite how unhappy with you he is and the violent way in which he’s going to deal with that.
As a psychologist, it’s your job to delve into the backstories of your patients and learn more about their problems. These play out as various spooky areas, such as the opening stage in an abandoned department store. The baddies that haunt you vary from level to level and need to be dealt with in their own unique ways; in said department store, for instance, your opponent needs to be lured into mirrors using tricks like looking backwards with a handy mirror shard. In Sound Mind is all about solving puzzles, finding keys and using your wits to progress.
Despite its puzzle-based nature, though, In Sound Mind bucks the modern horror trend of defenseless protagonists by offering our hero a gun! You can fight the monsters! A good headshot even kills them! Combat isn’t central to the game by any means, though, and generally speaking In Sound Mind prefers to spook rather than squash the player. It’s rare that you’ll run into situations where you can’t progress because your twitch skills don’t suffice, and supplies are readily available so you can stay stocked up.
In Sound Mind’s presentation really excels when it comes to presenting both a spooky atmosphere and a world that’s worth exploring. In true horror game fashion, it’s not possible to interact with much of the environment and that’s something of a disappointment. On the other hand, the sheer level of detail throughout each area is fantastic, as are the game’s sound, voice acting, and particularly its amazing music.
It’s not going to shake the world of horror game or anything, but In Sound Mind is a perfectly acceptable spook-fest for fans of the genre. The therapy theme is interesting and makes the monsters that haunt you throughout each area feel a lot less monstrous. Combine that with the gameplay allowing you to defend yourself where necessary and what you’ve got is a creepy, puzzling adventure that goes a long way to feeling a lot less like a slog than most of its contemporaries. Oh, and there’s a talking cat that you can pet.