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. 

image captured by the author

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. 

Special mention to the soundtrack and the vinyl. A fantastic original soundtrack.

Although the gameplay is not unique, it is very well constructed. I played most of the game with a mouse and keyboard, but I did plug in a PS5 and Xbox controller to compare and found all the results were phenomenal. Extremely tight control schemes with a range of unique weapons and tools made for brilliant gameplay. Weapons range from a blade of glass to a pistol, flare gun, and a shotgun, and all have their purposes. I found myself using the pistol for battling most enemies. Items used in the game, such as the glass shard, can be used to attack but are also used to see things that the naked eye cannot see; this includes text on the wall, hidden items, spectres, and much more. The torch used to see in the dark is used to defend against certain enemies, and these are just a few tools used throughout the game. The game is great at never overusing each concept with the tools or weapons, and enemies are challenging at the start, but never impossible; progress in-game and player development of skills allow for growth and reduction of feeling fear when seeing enemies. 

image captured by the author

While many horror games rely on drab worlds and cheap scares, In Sound Mind does an amazing job of having the colours in the world assist in telling the story or adding in feelings of a broad array. The game’s visuals are stunning, and the use of colour in the world is sparing and for a purpose. I cannot overstate the way the game made me feel. The use of the mirrors to reveal neon-lit invisible words items the naked eye cannot see is just one of the visual elements that brought me joy and fear. The enemy designs were simple but effective, and they are a testament to the game’s creators. The patient’s spectres were all distinctive and developed around their mental health issues or related to something personal to them.  

image captured by the author

In Sound Mind covers a vast host of emotions and mental health issues. Mental health issues that many of us may have experienced. From the pain of both psychological and physical scars to the fear and anger displayed by the patients. Each of these is shown as a physical representation throughout the game. The clever nature that the game introduces and develops these representations of mental health is with the utmost respect to the characters involved. From the moment these themes are presented to the final chapter of the game, we see the growth and development of the main character and the patients. The puzzles are designed to find the story of the patients and ultimately allow them to be helped and be healed. It was very touching to read about the patients’ conditions and how each of them was healed. The emotions displayed and felt during the game are one of the reasons I am ranking this so highly. During my gameplay, I was left feeling sorrow, fear, and excitement amongst other feelings, a great connection with the characters, and their pain and relief at their progress and healing. In Sound Mind does a great job at making the plight of the characters’ stories feel deeply emotional and meaningful. 

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.