In Sound Mind Deluxe Edition
Kick, Punch, It's 'In Sound Mind'
With what little information I've had of the developers coming into In Sound Mind, I didn't know what to expect. Reading the game case tells a psychedelic survivor horror with puzzling gameplay. Looking at the screenshots gave off the "psychedelic" vibes but it didn't do the game justice. It was much potent playing it, although by the end of the playthrough I didn't feel disgusted like most survival horrors. Perhaps it was due to the Teen rating but most survival horror games I've played were "Mature" rated. Instead of relying on extreme violence, blood and gore, and grotesque imagery, In Sound Mind plays with the mind.
The developers, We Create Stuff, are best known for their Source engine free-to-play first-person survival horror Nightmare House 2. With In Sound Mind working on the Unity engine, more liberties have been given to provide a more enchanting experience. This is doubled with the music score done by The Living Tombstone. The music does a good job of creating a tense atmosphere while providing a calming, curious tone when the time calls for it. This is due to the gameplay that In Sound Mind centers around. Combat is not the focus, nor is simply "surviving," as it's deeper than that.
In Sound Mind Unravels The More You Play
The game begins with an ominous cutscene by a very confident, if not intentionally(?) humorous voice. Any game whose intro begins with this relic of a quote is enough to pique my interest.
They say curiousity killed the cat but I killed the cat. Curiosity led her to me.
Following this declaration of a statement, the player wounds up in a basement at a random location with no recollection of what happened before. This entire "wake up in a basement" cliche is something that's common in survival horror. A rather recent infamous example of this was Tormented Souls' introduction that bared it all, pun intended. The difference here is that In Sound Mind starts the protagonist with nothing to defend themselves. The protagonist, Desmond, comes across a flashlight and that's the only thing they have access to for a while.
Explore Everything And Solve Puzzles In Sound Mind
In Sound Mind does a good job at telling the player what they can and can't do, highlighted by color hues. The colors in the building are rather muted. Bright colors and purple hues are used to indicate places of interest, breaking the monotony. Early on, purple fumes will emit, causing the protagonist to feel woozy and warning that he shouldn't stick around. These act as an early method to keep a player out, as well as vents that "can be pushed by a heavy force."
The first puzzle requires the player to fix an elevator, which gives very little for the player to work with. Simply searching the available areas will show players that they have to take a fuse from a washing machine. Taking the fuse, they replace the broken fuse on the elevator, bringing it to life. Not before it falls on my head, but thankfully a vent prevents my head from getting crushed by the elevator. That same vent that "required a heavy force" to be pushed. Everything In Sound Mind is connected and every dead-end is a coincidence as well as its symbolism.
What Happens When The Therapist Needs Therapy?
Desmond is revealed to be a therapist who is suffering from extreme PTSD from their work. Whether said PTSD is the cause of their whole "In Sound Mind" thought process, but things come to an impasse once they reach their office. After playing a tape of theirs, Desmond's inner thought process including their self-consciousness and insecurities comes to light. It is here that In Sound Mind's main mechanic comes forth.
He refers to his greatest failure, who also has a recording tape of their own. As they acquire the tape, escaping the horrors of the mansion, they play the patient's tape. Each tape played whisks the player away to another dimension relating to the trauma left behind in the tape. An example is an abandoned supermarket, relating to the tragedy of one of Desmond's patients. Much like the mansion, the market has its own puzzles. This includes a cheeky "looking away from the sliding doors to enter" mechanic.
In Sound Mind, But Everything Is Far From "Sound"
By the end of the preview, I was surprised as most survival horror titles rely on cheap jump scares, grotesque imagery, and many more. In Sound Mind relies on playing with the player's emotions as well as the psychological effects the environment gives off. What makes this ironic is that the protagonist is a therapist yet clearly they are disturbed. The game gives off a Silent Hill vibe yet has enough charm and comedy to offer a balance. The soundtrack provided an atmosphere but at the same time, the game itself carries its weight. It's a title worth playing for fans of survival horror and those who hate the genre alike.
In Sound Mind Deluxe Edition is available on the PS5.