LifeisXbox’s In Sound Mind Review | In Sound Mind is a first-person, imaginative psychological horror with puzzles, unique boss fights, and original music by The Living Tombstone. Journey within the inner workings of your patient’s psyche and the one place you can’t seem to escape—your mind. Developed by We Create Stuff and published by Modus Games, In Sound Mind is a surprising little horror game that fans of the genre will find interesting on many levels. In what appears to be a hybrid between indie and AAA, In sound mind offers a lot of creativity and unseen features in games that I have yet to come across in today’s games. It surprised me in a number of ways and on many occasions. Read on to find out more.
ℹ️ | We played In Sound Mind for Ten Hours on Xbox Series S. This game is also available on Xbox One and S/X, Playstation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Epic Games Store.
What we liked!
- The Atmosphere | From the moment you start the game, you know you are in for a good time. You start in a dimly lit room with no flashlight and must navigate through a series of spooky hallways before finally getting access to a flashlight and some much-needed light. I’ll touch on audio a little later but just know, for now, there is no music here and it helps emphasize the ambiance. Couple that with the thing watching you from the corners of the room now and then, and you have an eerie atmosphere that will make you feel all sorts of uncomfortable when playing.
- Mechanics | The mechanics in-game are grounded based on its drama. But what it does outside of the genre is something I haven’t seen done before. Without giving too much away, you will eventually access a piece of broken glass that you can raise to look behind you. The glass allows you to see things that are not visible to the naked eye. Secret rooms or items, even enemies floating through the walls so you can plan sneaking around and avoid enemies entirely. The other mechanic in-game is the upgrade ability to your health, sneak, and stamina. These come in the form of a fake name and fake branded anti-depression drugs. Take these when found throughout the game and for every 3 that you take, your health, sneak, or stamina will increase indefinitely.
- The Music and Audio | The music is fantastic. The Living Tombstone has done a great job of providing the score for the game with music that is fitting in every scene. I am familiar with The Living Tombstone as they provided music for Dread X The Hunt where I supplied a game for the collection, and the work done here is very fitting. The alienation present in the music is something that I find quite jarring about the music here. Alternative Rock combined with Electro Pop is something that you rarely find goes hand in hand, but here it works well.
- Surrealism | For a psychological horror game, there is always going to be a level of surrealism. This is one of the main factors facing you in-game. In Sound Mind has you play audio cassette recordings of your patient’s therapy sessions which then allow you to explore those memories. For example, there is a section where a client is pressured into establishing some new structure in her life when her local grocery store is closed down and a new one takes its place. It doesn’t sound like much but when you factor in the fact that this person suffers from a condition where the structure is important and disturbing that structure is detrimental to their health, it becomes a different game entirely. The player is then forced to avoid and wrestle an entity that is now prowling the shopping centre looking for revenge on anyone in the supermarket. I would go into more detail but it’s pretty gruesome what led her to this situation and for any potential buyers out there, it’s a hell of a twist to ruin.
- Too much back and forth | A lot of your time will be spent inside the apartment complex going up and down floors and it can get tedious. They try to break it up now and then by providing in-game phone calls with the antagonist but this isn’t enough to improve the game’s poor pacing.
- Outdated Horror Tropes | Flashlights that need constant batteries to work, mannequins that follow you, peeping around corners, these are just a few of the overused and overdone horror tropes most horror games suffer from. I would have preferred a more sinister way to explore the apartment complex such as having to turn on various lights and generators since there are a lot of Maintenance rooms and areas where this could be possible. The game also implements a fuse system in some areas so again, this could have been used to create additional puzzle areas where you could manage a fuse or two between different floors. The mannequins that appear behind you are a cheap scare tactic that I feel has left players feeling numb. I will forgive them for the use of mannequins in the grocery store locker room though. That was genius. The bottom line here though is if you are looking for a spin on the usual horror tropes found in almost all horror games, look elsewhere.
What we disliked
- Lack of way points | The biggest dislike I had for In Sound Mind was the lack of direction when a player loses their way. There were more than a few times when I was tasked with finding my way to a new section of the world to progress the story. Sure the argument could be made that it is a tactic that developers employ to get you to explore your surroundings and enjoy the world, but after running around for the best part of 30 minutes trying to find a way through the cold fog on the first floor, it starts to become a little frustrating. It drags you out of the experience and feels that a waypoint would have been a nice option to add for people, or at the very least an inner monologue as the game has a very vocal main character like they are from a noir film.
- Lack of Options | With only the usual slew of options such as sensitivity and sound with subtitles, I would have liked to have seen more accessibility options and also options for the Series X/S enhancements. We get a lot of games being optimised for Series X/S these days but sadly those tweaks and options are developers taking away control from the player. An example here is the roof section of the game dropped to below 20 frames per second. A dynamic resolution option would have been a great way to overcome this or at least a locked frame rate option to help reduce the stutter.
How long to beat the story | 12 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 15+ Hours
Similar with | Visage, Slender: The Arrival due to the slow-paced nature of the game and the mechanics are largely the same.
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Gaming is in my blood. Be it handheld games, Xbox, PC, Switch or Playstation, I am all over it.
I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.