In Sound Mind Is a fantastic first-person psychological indie horror game developed by We Create Stuff and published by Modus Games. This game is great for being very accessible for not only veterans of the genre but for those who want to dip their toes into the horror scene for the first time.
The game is super forgiving with difficulty settings, allowing options for either Easy, Normal, or Hard depending on the player’s preference. I personally have played a few horror games in my time, however, decided to play on Normal for my review playthrough. From collectables, lore drops, extra puzzles and so much more, there is something for everyone when it comes to In Sound Mind.
As an avid gamer, admittedly I wasn’t super convinced at first that In Sound Mind was going to be any different. I was expecting the same overused clichés and tropes utilised in most horror games, and honestly, I could not have been more mistaken. Yes, there are jump scares and they can be a thing but not in the way I anticipated, nor were there constant looming threats that made me frightened to even cross the threshold of a door. What We Create Stuff have excelled at and have effortlessly accomplished with In Sound Mind is an atmosphere that doesn’t rely on constant ‘in your face’ screaming and gore, instead relying on a more subtle approach, consisting of the clever use of background music, making you feel dread or at ease depending on the slightest change of notes. The game is also visually mesmerising with almost trippy landscapes and tremors through the ground that can make you feel like something bigger is on the horizon.
In Sound Mind explores many difficult ideas, concepts and themes, such as the topic of mental health. The ideas that they bring forward may not be new but are showcased in new ways that make the game feel fresh. Tragic stories of those who have suffered could be told in a way that seems tactless, however, the way that these stories are portrayed in In Sound Mind make you absolutely sympathise with the characters, the story and engages you in a way that tempts you to keep playing to figure out where this story going from what you’ve uncovered.
We follow the journey of a therapist Desmond Wales who has found himself trapped in his own office building, where weird and strange situations have become of his patients. Desmond is constantly being hounded either over the phone or in person by a man that looks very much like if Freddy Krueger was on some hallucinogenic drugs. However, the real strangeness starts to occur when Desmond discovers four of his patients’ apartments that have appeared in the building. To find answers to his questions, he must go into these apartments to find the cassette tapes from their recorded therapy sessions and travel through warped versions of his patients fragmented minds to help them and in turn, himself.
In Sound Mind is a survival horror game at its heart and doesn’t hold your hand, especially when it comes to puzzles. Through a very Metroid style of gameplay, you are slowly given more equipment to deal with in game challenges, allowing you to progress into more areas and discover more about the captivating story and the mysterious world that Desmond is in.
As Desmond progresses through these worlds, delving deeper and deeper inside, we learn more about both Desmond and his patients. While the story itself is amazing and keeps you coming back for more, it is a little disheartening in certain scenarios, when I felt the voice acting failed to meet the mood and expectations of the situation, particularly considering when you don’t get to meet any of the characters face to face and the voice acting is the only thing conveying the scenes at certain points.
I also really wish that the inventory screen or objectives had been a little more fleshed out, as on more than one occasion I found myself trying to remember what a note had mentioned, or trying to figure out where I was, with no map in sight. This made me become frustrated during my playthrough and admittedly, a few times I wanted to stand up and walk away. Thankfully, the story kept me going as I wanted to uncover and learn more, and so I overcame these frustrations.
Overall, In Sound Mind is a fantastic cerebral psychological thriller with a fun and stimulating story that explores mental health through the unearthing of many individuals, allowing you to truly get under their skin. The game contains a masterful soundtrack with original music composed by The Living Tombstone, which can make you feel completely immersed in the moment. There are also plenty of exploration opportunities in game, collectables and puzzles that can give the player as much or as little content as they wish.
In Sound Mind is entertaining and challenging in a way that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions; from pausing to think and assess a situation, to making you genuinely laugh or scream in both delight and in fear. In Sound Mind honestly surprised and impressed me in ways that I did not expect and I truly believe it could be one of the greatest horror games of this year.
In Sound Mind is out now PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Nintendo Switch and PC.
A review copy was provided on PlayStation 5 for the purpose of this review.