In Sound Mind is an imaginative first-person psychological horror with frenetic puzzles, unique boss fights, and original music by The Living Tombstone. Journey within the inner workings of the one place you can’t seem to escape—your own mind.
Publisher: Modus Games
Reviewed on: PC (5800X, 32GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 3070)
Also available for: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, PS5
Cast: Mick Lauer, Tiana Camacho, Hayley Nelson, Sam Haft, Joshua Tomar, Luke Edward Smith, Helen Laser
Developer: We Create Stuff
Creative Team: Hen Matshulski (Creative Director, Game and Level Designer), Ido Tal (Lead Game Producer and Programmer), Amit Arnon (Lead Programming and Engineering), Viktor Gresksa (3D Modelling, Rigging), Pedro Calvo (Texturing and Material Artist, 3D Animator)
In Sound Mind is an astonishing sci-fi adventure into the horrors of the human psyche. The game follows Desmond Wales, a psychologist exploring why his recent patients have begun to display highly debilitating mental health issues preceding their deaths. Desmond’s interest is piqued because he begins to show similar problems; he must solve what happened to his patients and ultimately try to save himself from a similar fate.
In Sound Mind begins with Desmond waking up in the basement of a hotel, it is dark, scary, and ominous sounds creep in the dark. Desmond needs to find his path from this place, finding random notes from an unknown source through the corridors. His only weapon against the darkness is a torch. A colourful liquid is randomly found on the ground or leaking from barrels and storage containers; getting close to it causes Desmond pain, and the edges of his vision begin to blur. Further exploration allows the players to craft a gun. After solving various puzzles and mechanical problems, the player can fix the lift and move to the hotel’s second level.
A shadowy figure appears and disappears at random, and each time they appear, the player might be startled in real life as the apparition has a strange appearance. A sharp change in the feel of the game is developing. Making our way to the end of the hall, we discover two available rooms, one Desmond’s office and the other, accessing Desmond’s home. Exploring Desmond’s house, we find a few clues about who he is and a cassette tape. After collecting the cassette tapes, the player guides Desmond to his office to discover two noteworthy things: a beautiful cat and a tape player. Playing the tape reveals more of the tale, expanding Desmond’s character and setting the bar for what the player can expect further into the game.
In Sound Mind uses a centralised hub manifested as a hotel, and the accessible rooms relate to each patient. Each room takes the player into the patient’s home, discovering various items that build the world. These items are usually text-heavy, such as diary entries, poems, doctor’s notes, or objects that can be interacted with. These homes also allow the player to discover the patient’s tape to be collected and taken back to Desmond’s office to play. Playing the recordings gives access to the recorded sessions, and these sessions are manifested as a level with the patient being the “end boss”. Once you access the patients’ minds through the recorded session, you must solve various puzzles and tasks to defeat the boss. Each of the stages has a unique world and colour scheme to match.
The thing that stuck with me was the music and sound design in this game. The way the game makes you feel throughout is a feat. I found myself stunned with fear the first time I heard the banshee-like scream of the first boss, literally paralysed in my seat, my lizard brain not knowing if we fight or flight. The characters in-game are acted out with conviction, all of them exceptional and with determination. Musically the game excels; the soundtrack is beautiful, haunting, and overall unforgettable. The game features an optional task later to collect some vinyl and play them in Desmond’s office, and I highly suggest doing this before completing the game as they are masterful and fill out the characters more.
In Sound Mind is a great example of a game made with a purpose and real thought put into it. I usually am not a thriller or horror fan, and I can honestly say I love this game. The way it moved me throughout, making me feel a great deal and a broad spectrum of emotions, really speaks to this game on another level. The sound design and music are something many companies should follow as it fits perfectly with the game. The game’s story followed a semi-linear path and made me think about mental health and empathy and drew me into being invested in the game’s protagonist and the ‘villains’ of the game.