Title: Remothered: Tormented Fathers
Developer: Stormind Games
Publisher: Darril Arts
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 06/09/2019
Price: £24.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Developed by the Italian Stormind Games, Remothered: Tormented Fathers is a survival-horror game, considered by many as a spiritual successor to the dearly beloved Clock Tower series. As Rosemary, you explore the dangerous halls of the Felton estate, in search of answers and clues as to what happened to the Feltons’ daughter Celeste, who has been missing for a long time. The game opens with a cinematic shot that quickly sets the tone and gives an impression of the sheer ambition of this indie title.
As a young man interviews an older lady about the events of something that happened a long time ago, she starts to recollect, we then cut back to many years earlier when Rosemary started her investigation of the ominous villa of said family. After making her way up through the front yard she is greeted by Mr. Felton’s house nurse at the door, who reluctantly lets her in when Rose says she is there to see to the old man’s treatment, after which she leads Rose up to a study where she is granted an audience with the man. What begins as a quiet conversation about his health and treatment then quickly escalates into a rough argument about his missing daughter, after which an agitated Mr Felton shows the woman the door. But Rose doesn’t take no for an answer and hides in the nearby forest until the house nurse leaves the property, after which she sneaks back in determined to find the answers she seeks.
Here the game starts for real, and it is immediately made clear that Remothered is an atmospheric game that wants you to take your time and observe your surroundings, as Rose walks really slowly, almost tip-toeing her way around. You will quickly find that running really isn’t at all recommended. Not only does Rose get winded extremely quickly, being a middle-aged woman, but the deluded old man Mr Felton, as well as other dangerous characters, roam the house halls in real-time. They all have an extremely keen sense of hearing, so running is only recommended if you have been spotted and need to make a quick getaway. It is here the game shows first shows its similarities to the Clock Tower series, as these games were also all about finding your way around while solving puzzles and finding a way out of whatever predicament you found yourself in, while being constantly stalked by a killer that you could do little to defend yourself against aside from trying to hide.
On that note, even the survival-horror games of old threw you a bone if you came prepared, and Remothered is no different. If you do happen to fall into Mr Felton’s grouchy grasp and face his deadly sickle, you do get a prompt to defend yourself and run away if you happen to be carrying a defensive item, of which you can only carry one at a time. An encounter with one of the game’s pursuers without a weapon doesn’t necessarily mean immediate death though as you can dodge their attacks if you are quick, or throw items at them to either distract or stun them. That being said, the only way to heal yourself, is by one of the only three save mirrors in the whole game, one of which is found in the endgame area. Being hurt doesn’t slow you down or anything, but it does slim your chances of escaping your enemy next time, lest you acquire a new defensive item, and because these save mirrors are so rare and Rose walks so slowly, you won’t likely gamble the trip back to one.
As the game progresses and you stumble on various key scenes, you are given an objective vaguely telling you what you need to do. You then often find yourself having to carefully roam the big house in search of the key items you need to solve whatever puzzle you are given, like finding an umbrella to reach the lever to an attic ladder or a turn-key used to wind up a grandfather clock. These puzzles are relatively few and if you are a keen observer you will quickly know where you need to use what. For me personally though it wasn’t always clear how or where you needed to get a certain item and I thus did have to look it up. I would surely have persevered and eventually found the solutions myself, but when I already had to deal with having to constantly watch out for a stalker who could be anywhere, I didn’t have the capacity to also worry about item hunting.
There are designated hiding spots for you, but unless you are miles ahead of your pursuer they will see you hiding and pull you out of your hiding place. And that is the funny thing, exploring this dark old mansion to the sound of roaring thunder outside, while also listening to Mr Felton’s distant rambling, is terrifying in its own right, but being chased is more annoying than scary. The Red Nun, whom you’ll meet later in the game was especially annoying, spotting me again even though she had gone a fair distance away from my hiding place, with her back turned to me and the chase music having stopped.
For an indie game, created, written, and directed by a certain Chris Darril, Remothered is a welcome trip back to survival-horror games of the past, and a very ambitious project at that, which again is especially apparent in its cinematic cutscenes and dialogue. While the acting is hit and miss, you at least get the feeling that they were trying. I appreciate what the game is trying to do and trying to re-create, being a genre and style long since abandoned by modern gaming, but its indie roots also frequently show the game’s unpolished ugly sides. Like a door in the front hall glitching out so that Rose would do the animation of opening and closing it but the actual door staying closed, which was extremely annoying and inconvenient as it was a shortcut to one of the game’s few save spots. Or the game at various points, especially in the sewer and the attic, failing to put you back to the ”continue”-screen when you die, thus forcing you to quit and reload the game altogether, which doesn’t take long but is an annoying inconvenience to say the least and makes you wonder if the game was even playtested. This glitch seems to have been ironed out with the newest patch.
One glitch did come in handy though, as Mr Felton at one point in my playthrough tried to go in through the dining room doors, only to get caught and stuck in the open door. This, if only for a brief time until the next cutscene spoiled my freedom, allowed me to finally get a move on and RUN from place to place without having to worry about him. I get that this is a horror game and the whole idea is to stay quiet to avoid the killer, but combining the overly large and spacious halls of the Felton manor with Rose’s ungodly slow tiptoe speed makes making your way through the mansion an absolute chore sometimes. Walking slowly in the older Clock Tower games worked because the locations were more condensed and were clearly built around the gameplay.
The game’s score is hauntingly mesmerising, doing its job brilliantly at creating an intense thick atmosphere and crawling under your skin. You really feel as helpless as a middle-aged woman stuck in a house where you need to watch your every step. On the note of sound mixing, however, I don’t know if this was a deliberate choice or not, but no matter where Mr Felton is in the house or what floor he is on compared to you, his voice will always have the same volume and sound like he is right around the corner. This is an effective scare tactic no doubt, but on the contrary, it also wears thin after a while and breaks the illusion, when you realize that even if it sounds like he is nearby he may actually not even be in the vicinity.
At one point I was in his bathroom to pick up a key, and his voice then became louder and louder to the point where it sounded like he was surely right outside the door, but then the very next line made it sound like he was several rooms away. When I realized this inconsistency, I of course still watched out not to run into him, but I was a lot less scared walking around. I don’t know if this was an oversight on the developer’s part altogether, or they genuinely thought it would be scary to hear your stalker’s voice all the time, but you know, sometimes, hearing nothing, because the killer is far away from your current position, can be at least as effective, and put you in a sense of false security.
The game is overall a nice callback to a bygone era, and it shows a ton of promise, effort, and potential in everything from the graphics to the aesthetics, environmental details, and the overall paranoid feel, and as a huge fan of the 3rd person horror games of yesteryear I am glad it exists, but I also cannot ignore its many kinks, glitches, and shortcomings. The writing and cinematography are great, better than I would have expected for a game like this, but at the end of the day, it looks like more attention was given to its presentation than testing and fine-tuning some of its flaws.
The game is from 2018 so I don’t know if patches are still being released, or if reviews of this newly released Switch port will push the developer to polish an otherwise very enjoyable game with a great story, but I am also aware that a sequel is in the works slated for a 2020 release, which seems to have a bigger budget and team behind it. So if nothing else, Remothered is a nice attempt at making a spiritual successor to old-school survival horror games, a proof of concept if you will, and I, therefore, hope that its sequel will take this solid foundation and build upon it. Word of advice to the developer though: finish the first game properly before beginning on a sequel.
Remothered is mediocre, okay at best, and even though the story is great and every plot twist and turn of events leaves you craving for more answers, I can’t recommend it to anyone who is not already a fan of the genre, not just because of the numerous glitches, but because this type of game caters to a very specific audience. If however, like me, you have been starving for a return to 3rd person survival-horror games for a long time, I do recommend that you give it a try, and if nothing else, despite its very rough edges, appreciate it for what it tried to accomplish.
Minor things like textures and font size for documents have allegedly been improved in a patch, but I hardly noticed anything, to be honest, and to be honest, those were the least of the game’s problems anyway.