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    dkirschner's In Sound Mind (PC)

    [September 19, 2022 06:57:15 AM]
    I had zero expectations for this. Never heard of it before seeing it free on Epic. It seemed like a nontraditional horror/FPS with some trippy visuals. What did I get? A story-heavy game about a psychologist unraveling the mystery of his patientsí deaths, a government conspiracy, and his own psychosis. It's a VERY clever premise as presented. About 3/4 of the way through, I had a sad feeling that it was moving toward a more generic central plot and that the setup wouldn't deliver, but it mostly does. I even teared up at the end. It was so SWEET and I love cats.

    You wake up in the basement of a three-story building. Eventually, you (the player) start to realize who you (the character) are. You find your office, your home (thereís a portal to it, donít ask), a talking cat, and lots of mysterious purple substance that looks like radioactive waste. Most areas in the building are blocked off. The game is divided into "tapes," which you find through a series of other portals into your patientsí homes. Like a metroidvania, new parts of the building open up as you gain new items in each tape (e.g., a piece of glass to cut through police tape or smash boards, a radio device to jam electric boxes, etc.). The tapes are your recorded sessions with patients and the game proceeds as you play through each tape, transported into some hellish version of the patientsí realities. In each of their tapes, you trace their descent into madness, fight them in truly epic boss battles that span most of the tape, and bring some closure to their part of the story. But it only deepens the overall mystery and their connection to one another.

    In Sound Mind shines in numerous areas, but I'll highlight the epic boss battles. Since the tapes are the patients' realities, you might imagine that the patients are omnipresent in each level. Good guess! Sometimes the entire tape feels like a boss battle. Not only are the tapes set where the patients finally lost it (a ravaged supermarket; a lighthouse and surrounding beaches; a state park; industrial mining operation), but the patients are there, manifested in horrific versions of themselves. It's hard to choose which one to talk about. The first one might have been my overall favorite tape. The second one presented me with the most tense moments of the game. The third one had the longest and most epic boss battle. The fourth one was probably the least impressive. And the final boss battle was whatever (he pesters you throughout the game and looks like a doddering Freddy Krueger).

    The first tape is for a patient who can't handle other people looking at her. You (her psychologist) try exposure therapy and have her go out to a familiar local supermarket. She can do that, feels comfortable there. But then it closes, pushed out of business by the game's version of Wal-Mart. She goes there and, long story short, smashes it up and kills herself with broken glass. You get a piece of said glass, which is a creative tool for the rest of the game. Not only does it cut police tape and smash boards, but if you hold it up, it highlights objects (key progression objects, upgrades, electrical grids) behind you. They remain highlighted for like 10 seconds after you put the mirror down. So in this way, you can find hidden keys, health upgrades, figure out how to open electronically locked doors, see hidden paths, and so on. It's pretty neat!

    In the third boss battle, you fight a man who is very angry over losing his job, transformed into a bull-head-shaped truck engine that zooms around the map trying to kill you. You basically lure it from place to place as you develop a way to pacify it. This involves a big puzzle synthesizing a drug, navigating a conveyor belt maze, completing a puzzle with fuses to lift an elevator and navigate a power grid, avoiding the bull in a train yard, and more. One of my favorite parts was in the second boss battle where you are fighting "the darkness." You have one fuse and have to get through dark areas by sprinting from fuse box to fuse box trying to create lit areas so the darkness wouldn't get you. Scary!

    Sometimes, the levels can feel a bit long though. This is due to the game's main weakness: its combat (not good for an FPS!). Shooting is very basic and enemies dart around too much for the guns to handle. It is the least fun part of the game. There is basically one enemy type, besides the bosses. It does have a couple variations, but they both jerk around and are hard to shoot in the head. Stealth is also totally broken. I may have snuck by one enemy once. There's a whole stealth stat! You will never need this, rarely be encouraged to try it, enemies will see you anyway, and you'll always have enough ammo to kill them.

    To sum, In Sound Mind was surprisingly good. Most of the time, I thought it was great. The story, bosses, and puzzles are highlights. Combat with normal enemies becomes a slog. Actually in the final boss battle, I quit killing them and learned I could just run past them. I'd definitely recommend this for something a little different. Oh, also, the soundtrack is excellent. I have to look up the band that did the music, The Living Tombstone. Their songs fit/set the tone of the game perfectly.
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    Status

    dkirschner's In Sound Mind (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 9 September, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Friday 16 September, 2022

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Blowing me away so far. Great presentation. -------- Excellent game. Psychologists should play.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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