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True Fear: Forsaken Souls

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: The Digital Lounge
Developer: Goblinz Studio
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2018


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PS4 Review - 'True Fear: Forsaken Souls - Part 1'

by Fran Soto on Sept. 12, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

True Fear: Forsaken Souls is a point-and-click horror adventure that takes the best of the psychological thriller, blending in fun and intuitive gameplay mechanics.

Buy True Fear: Forsaken Souls

It's a dark and stormy night. A surprising knock on the door jolts our protagonist awake. A mysterious letter arrives from a sister she hasn't spoken to in 10 years. The letter begs her to come to an address in the middle of nowhere. A dark secret tore their family apart years ago, and this could lead to some answers. Thus begins True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1, an interactive point-and-click horror adventure from developer Goblinz. Blending puzzling exploration with frightening atmosphere, True Fear creates an addicting experience that will keep players searching for answers to this haunting mystery.

We follow our protagonist, Holly, as she's thrust into this abrupt scenario to find out what happened to her family years ago. After receiving the urgent message from her sister, Heather, she sets off to the address mentioned in the letter. We arrive at an abandoned house, and the adventure begins. Immediately, the game sets an eerie tone with dark visuals and haunting sound effects. While the game is point-and-click, there are short cinematics peppered throughout in order to drive the story forward. Using the Unity engine, True Fear's cut scenes are high quality and elevate the title beyond its indie status.

These scenes also add to the atmosphere, sending a chilling sensation down one's spine when the antagonist, Scary Girl, staggers out of nowhere to surprise players. Her character design is fiercely reminiscent of something out of "The Ring." The title does a stellar job of taking inspiration from classic horror movies and games. The flavor text found throughout reminds us of Resident Evil and uses the opportunity to poke fun at the players without taking itself too seriously. While searching the environment turns up necessary clues to proceed, there are also opportunities to examine the space for extra backstory. True Fear takes the point-and-click genre to new heights by providing compelling atmosphere with an intriguing story.

True Fear's gameplay follows the standard template of the point-and-click genre. Players will need to search for clues and specific objects that help us progress. Maneuvering through the abandoned house in Act 1 of the game is almost like a horror fixer-upper. Players need to find fuses to fix the lights, which allow them to proceed to the next room, where they must find ways to unlock rusty doors to pass through. Maybe we find an object in one part of the house, and we must remember to what it corresponds — finding a hairpin upstairs might help me unlock a door in the kitchen downstairs. The way the game is set up, players with keen eyes will be able to spot answers to these puzzles in quick succession. There will be moments when a door requires an emblem to pass through, but this emblem is only obtainable after completing other environmental puzzles.

One of the more notable game elements is its vast array of puzzles. Maybe we've found all the emblems that fit in a lock, but they are out of order, and we must put them together properly in order to proceed. This is just one example of the puzzles found within the title. Rhythmic puzzles, coloring puzzles, number puzzles, matching puzzles and more find their home neatly in True Fear. Instead of relying on the same fill-in-the-blank format that a lot of point-and-click games use, the whole game creatively finds ways to keep players invested. It creates a compelling challenge with some definite head-scratcher moments. The title truly relies on the player's intuition to solve the mystery.

As intuitive as the game is, there will be moments when we may not know what to do with an item we picked up. Maybe we find ourselves pacing back and forth between rooms, clicking on everything to see if something fits. True Fear is, overall, an exceptional challenge for puzzle lovers. Those who may not be as invested in solving puzzles, however, do have additional help from the game. Early on, players find our sister Heather's childhood doll. It is more than just a toy, as this doll serves as our guide throughout the game. If players find themselves stumped, they have the option of asking the doll for a hint. The hints are on cooldown, so they may only be used once in a while. She may guide us to where we should look next. If we cannot figure out a puzzle at all, the doll also provides a skip option. With these additional possibilities to progress, True Fear gives players control over how challenging they'd like the title to be.

The game is riddled with puzzles and objects to explore. While some think constant puzzles may hinder gameplay, it actually propels the plot forward in this case. Solving one puzzle and being able to move onto the next provides an addicting experience. It's possible to even obtain the "Hooked??" achievement in the game — meaning that players completed the game in a single sitting. It is doable, as I found myself surprised once I reached the end without getting up once. True Fear provides an enjoyable experience without long, drawn-out play time. The game is short enough to finish in a single sitting, if you wish. However, it also lends itself to taking a slower approach. Collectibles and secrets hidden within each act reward players for going out of their way to search every nook and cranny. While the game starts off rather slowly, the build-up is carefully constructed. Act 1 of the game is the slowest part, in my opinion, but it does a good job of setting up the story. It isn't until Act 2 that we see the snowballing plot develop. What mysteries lie in wait for us to uncover? What happened to our protagonists' family? Who is this creepy girl following us around? It seems as if a sinister plot involving the community is at play. These questions serve an important purpose for our continuation.

True Fear knows how to keep players invested, but fear is not exactly "true" in this title. My only disappointment was the lack scares in the game. Yes, there is a terrific atmosphere, but horror games are more than that. We see Scary Girl a handful of times, which I appreciate only because overuse of an antagonist can become stale. There were opportunities to amp up the scare factor or create a sense of urgency in the title. I recall an older Flash game (when those were at the height of popularity), Exmortis, that was also a point-and-click horror title, but its use of supernatural elements throughout the game created a sense of dread — as well as its use of timed objectives. Wandering around the maps in True Fear became redundant after a while. Nothing new popped up to jolt us. A couple of times, we saw a door slam shut on its own and a knife carved messages into the wall without warning. There were no moments where I felt a sense of urgency with consequence. It doesn't appear that it is possible to die in the game, so that detracts from my incentive to move quickly. There were definite opportunities to add more of these elements to the game. Cut scenes did most of the heavy lifting when it came to scares, but gameplay was left without these possibilities. True Fear is a mild horror experience until its last moments, where we are left with an exceptional cliff-hanger for Part 2 of the title.

True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 provides a compelling story and atmosphere for fans of both the horror and point-and-click genre. A mysterious story with intriguing twists and turns will keep players invested for hours to come. The title will challenge players to rely on intuition, since a variety of puzzles make up the core gameplay. The variety adds diversity to the gameplay while allowing players to feel accomplished upon completion. There is more to the game than just puzzles, as secrets and collectibles keep players invested in the environment and grant opportunities for exploration beyond the main plot. True Fear excels at elevating the point-and-click genre through genius design layouts and storytelling. While the gameplay and plot will keep players interested, some pacing issues and lack of horror elements weaken the title. The issues are not enough to outshine True Fear's excellent features, however, as the title creates a memorable experience. A major cliffhanger at the end creates excitement for Part 2 as players are left wondering, "What will happen next"? True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 is a must-play for any fans of the genre.

Score: 9.0/10

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