Although the truly bizarre name might be a turn-off, Remothered: Tormented Fathers is actually one of the better indie horror games I’ve played. I’m a fan of non-paranormal horror. There is nothing more unsettling than real life, and the games and movies creative enough to make a horror story without ghosts and goblins are truly something to behold. Remothered: Tormented Fathers, while certainly not perfect, is a great example of one of these games.

In Remothered: Tormented Fathers you play as Rosemary Reed, a woman who looks suspiciously like Dana Scully/Clarise Starling, as she investigates the disappearance of a missing child. Her investigation leads her to the large and unusually sinister house of Richard Felton. Infiltrating the mansion under the pretext of being a doctor there to treat Felton’s illness, he quickly realizes Reed is lying and has her removed from the premises. Reed then returns at night to search the house and question Felton’s wife. However, she finds the wife has been dead for a long while, and a very upset Felton roaming about with a large sickle, nude except for a butcher’s apron. Now she must uncover the secrets about Richard and escape the mansion alive. 

The story of Remothered: Tormented Fathers is one of its strongest aspects, so I don’t want to give any more than that. There are some really interesting twists and turns, and the game is very good at only giving you a minimal amount of information, but enough to keep you wondering what’s next. As Remothered: Tormented Fathers is intended to be the first chapter of a trilogy, the ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered. But those questions that it does answer are well worth the effort. 

It is interesting to note that the setting for Remothered: Tormented Fathers is unique compared to many of its contemporaries. Rather than taking place in an abandoned ghost town or some kind of madness shadow dimension, Remothered happens right in the middle of a city. While you the player are trapped within the house, the safety of the normal world lies just meters away. This adds to the non-paranormal atmosphere, giving the game a much more grounded and personal feel. The areas in the mansion, while certainly confusing while pursued by nude Nemesis, are relatively small and simple. But with no minimap, you need to create a map inside your head, creating a much more organic experience exploring Felton manor.

The other strong aspect of Remothered: Tormented Fathers is the atmosphere. The visuals and music are incredible. For an indie game, Remothered looks a lot better than one would expect. The visuals are nearing that of a triple A game.  The environments are creepy and the lighting system strengthens the aesthetic even further. Other than a few unfortunate character animations, the game looks great. But the best part about the atmosphere of Remothered is the sound.

I was not expecting such good audio, until I looked up who the composer was. Somehow they got Nobuko Toda to join this project. If you’re not already familiar with her, she’s best known for her work on like five different Metal Gear Solid  soundtracks. The music for Remothered: Tormented Fathers was fantastic and the sound design made the atmosphere that much more stressful. 

The gameplay for Remothered: Tormented Fathers, unfortunately, does not hold up as well as the narrative and atmosphere. Gameplay in this is a lot like Outlast or Clock Tower 3. You are exploring this mansion, looking for a way out, all the while hiding from the gangly nude man who roams the halls. There are a few of these “stalker” characters who shuffle in and out, all of them function the same. They search about until they find you, and then they chase you. You already know the deal.

Remothered: Tormented Fathers gives the player a few different means of dealing with the stalker. The areas are full of various objects you can use. There are some distraction objects, like alarm clocks, which you can set to go off and lure the stalker away. There are thrown items, which can be used to either lure or pelt the pursuer. And there are a bunch of sharp things, which will provide a one-time stab you can use to get away (they start out one time use, but there are a number of jars hidden around the house in which you can dip your knitting needle to be able to stab twice). While I do appreciate the choices given, I found the best way to evade the stalker was to simply run away. Your character moves slightly faster than they do, and the stalker tends to forget about you very quickly.

The downside of running being the best option is that the areas remain full of items. On top of the already numerous drawers that have a ‘search me’ icon on them, countless unstabbed shivs and unthrown coffee cups litter each zone as well. The result is that the environments in  Remothered: Tormented Fathers are so full of junk that you can’t tell what is important. And since this type of horror game requires you to find key items, it became a huge ordeal trying to figure out what I needed next. 

The goal in Remothered: Tormented Fathers  is to explore and find whatever item you need in order to use it on another item. For instance, you need to use a plunger to unclog a bathtub to get the key lodged within. But to do that you need to find the plunger, which requires the kitchen key. Et cetera. This means a lot of running back and forth, looking for objects that don’t always look important, hoping to find your way forward. Unlike Resident Evil, which used narrow corridors and locked doors to direct the player in the direction they needed to go, Remothered: Tormented Fathers leaves much of the mansion open right at the start, each area full of unimportant objects camouflaging the important ones, which led me to a lot of confusion as to where I was supposed to go.

On its own, the open areas with lots of items are not so bad. After all, exploration is what makes this type of game so intriguing. But since there are so many things to use, and so many places to go, all while sneaking around the “stalker” in the area, I found myself reduced to a lot of trial and error. Remothered has such slow sneaking speed, after a while of stealth followed by defeat, I felt a lot more inclined to just sprint around the house, stalker be damned. This does erode a bit of the horror, since you are very aware of how ineffective the enemy is. But the music was stressful and it still required active engagement to not get a sickle to the dome, so I didn’t find it took too much out of the experience. 

Ultimately, the clunky gameplay and occasional translation error are insignificant in the face of the great atmosphere and story. Remothered: Tormented Fathers is an incredibly immersive experience. Certainly the game leaves a bit to be desired, but likely that is because it is intended to be the first third. And although it tops out at about 6-8 hours (probably half of that, once you actually know what you’re doing), for a $20 game it is well worth the time. We are reviewing this two years late in anticipation for the upcoming chapter of the series, Remothered: Broken Porcelain. You can expect a review for that to arrive soon.

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