True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Digital Lounge
Developer: Goblinz
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I never thought I?d have very strong opinions about what does and doesn?t constitute a hidden object game, but True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 is certainly testing that resolve.

See, it describes itself as a hidden object game. I mean, technically its description in the PlayStation Store says you can turn those on or off, but when they?re on, to me that means that the game is, ipso facto, a hidden object game.

Here?s the thing, though: True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 doesn?t actually have any hidden object puzzles, at least not in any traditional sense. There are no static screens full of hidden numbers or incongruous boats or oddly-placed swords or anything, no lists of random items you have to discover before you can find the one thing you need for the game to progress. There are, to be sure, static screens where you have to find objects, but none of these objects are random. They?re all there so you can work out puzzles that need to be solved in order for the game to progress.

In other words, True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 is basically just a standard point & click adventure game. And not a particularly interesting one at that, since the puzzles are rarely, if ever, challenging, and the game lacks any of the humour that has come to define the genre over the last several decades.

Admittedly, the main reason it?s not funny is because True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 aspires to be a horror game. But that highlights one of its major flaws: it?s not scary, either. It has fairly low production values, with generic music and middling graphics, which means that, at best, you might get a jump scare or two.

I?m skeptical you?ll even have those jump scares, though, since True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 commits the cardinal sin of making its puzzles too complex for their own good. And I don?t mean ?complex? in terms of difficulty — I mean that this is one of those games where you have to backtrack constantly, since it delights in having you go from Point A to Point J via Point Q, sending you back and forth just to perform the most menial of tasks. It?d be one thing if the puzzles were tough, but seeing as you can instantly spot the solutions to all of them, it all just feels like extraneous padding more than anything else.

Oddly enough, despite all these negatives I?ve described, I actually don?t hate True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1. I mean, I?m not pleased about the bait & switch ?hidden object game that?s not really a hidden object game? thing (call me old-fashioned, but if it says ?hidden object game,? I want my nonsensical list of things to find!), but, on the whole, it?s a perfectly serviceable point & click adventure game.

The thing is, point & click adventure is, as a category, much more competitive than hidden object game. Being serviceable in the latter category means you just have to measure up to whatever interchangeable filler Artifex Mundi is coming out with this week (not to insult Artifex Mundi or anything — I?m a huge fan of their games — but they do all feel the same after awhile). Being serviceable when you?re up against the likes of Double Fine means that Tim Schafer is lapping you while you?re still in the starting blocks. It?s great that True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 tries to be something more than a generic hidden object game, but based on the evidence, they probably shouldn?t have even tried.

Digital Lounge provided us with a True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C