Review – In Sound Mind

Horror games are my bread and butter, some of my favourite in gaming. The recent Tormented Souls was a great callback to classic survival horror, fixed cameras and all, whilst Visage was a relentless assault on the senses, providing some of the best scares in recent memory. Time try out the supposed next big thing in the genre, In Sound Mind, created by the amusingly named We Create Games, a studio behind the popular Nightmare House mod for Half-Life 2. It goes for a combination of survival and psychological horror for a creative genre experience. Let’s see if such premise holds up.

In Sound Mind Graphics

In Sound Mind is not always visually impressive.

The story has you waking up in a mysterious building with no idea how you got there, a very common trend in horror games when you think about it. Very soon you realise something is wrong, as you are stalked by a mysteriously creepy man with a hat and really long neck, calling you on phones as you explore the building. You must figure out what is happening by recovering tapes of your character’s old patients, uncovering their traumas. It’s a compelling story told in a very unique, and most importantly, bizarre way, which works pretty well. 

In Sound Mind is split into multiple distinctive chapters, with a hub you will be returning to. The hub is relatively small but you will be spending quite a bit of time here, solving environmental puzzles to progress through the game’s story, presented through the aforementioned tapes. Even if a good chunk of your time will spent solving these puzzles, they aren’t overly complex, requiring you to just pay attention to clues in the environment. 

Each of the tapes transport you to a self-contained location where you discover a patient’s story. It’s an interesting premise that serves for a wonderfully mysterious story to unravel. Each tape also provides a focus on new gameplay mechanics. For instance, things start off in a supermarket which puts the mirror in focus. Looking at the roaming ghost through it will put her into a frenzy and attack you. You need to figure out a way to be able to look at her without her going full aggro on you, and it’s a smart solution once you figure it out. The tapes do a great job providing variety for each chapter, but often overstay their welcome. Just as you think one is about to come to an end, there’s just a bit more there and I can’t help but to think some of the fat could have been trimmed down.  

In Sound Mind Flashlight

Cheers mate!

The good news is the game is much better than I originally anticipated. The unique mechanics each chapter presents are pushed throughout it, and through the hub as well, unlocking more secrets and encouraging further exploration. The boss encounters are typically more unique than your standard affair, using each chapter’s thematically appropriate mechanics in creative ways. 

Outside of the boss encounters, which are this game’s main feature, there’s combat and some more traditional horror elements. The combat adds a little bit of variety to the overall package, with some roaming monsters scattered throughout the explorable areas that can be dealt with. You can try to sneak by them, but ammo is plentiful and whenever I was close to running out there was always more to pick up. The stealth and combat are when In Sound Mind is at its weakest, with most of the enemies you encounter not being really interesting and guns just not feeling impactful enough. 

Thankfully, the horror actually sticks for the most part. Keeping me on edge without relying too heavily on jump scares is always a plus in this day and age, though the few that are actually present in here do land with a bang. It’s not as terrifying as games like, say, Visage or Amnesia, but does what it sets out to do anyway, providing you with a tense exploratory experience. With that being said, some of the tapes do overstay their welcome, with some of the tension wearing off after a while. 

In Sound Mind Cat

Yes, You can pet the cat!

The graphics in here aren’t anything special. They are serviceable, that’s for the certain, but the game as a whole just looks dull and uninspired, which is at odds with how creative it is in other areas. Like I said earlier on, each of the game’s areas provide unique gameplay mechanics, but they also provide a unique setting that fits the theme of that particular story, like the lighthouse shrouded in darkness that just gave me really strong Alan Wake vibes in the best of ways. It just could have been a bit more polished.

In Sound Mind is an inventive and unique psychological game that pulls together a compelling mystery and unique gameplay mechanics that make every chapter standout. However the messy presentation, pointless stealth and overly long sections bring it down a touch. Don’t fret, though: if you’re a fan of the genre, this has more than enough redeeming qualities to entertain you until the very end.

Graphics: 6.0

Despite some cool enemy designs, the overall visual presentation is indeed below average. 

Gameplay: 7.0

In Sound Mind is creative with its mechanics, though it focuses too much at some of its weaker aspects at times, namely stealth and combat. 

Sound: 7.0

The sound design isn’t particularly impressive as far as horror games go but does a good job regardless.

Fun Factor: 7.5

In Sound Mind has some really strong positives, namely how bizarre it is. It is hampered by long stretches of tedium, however.

Final Verdict: 7.5

In Sound Mind is available now on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM.

A copy of In Sound Mind was provided by the publisher.