The Nintendo Switch is having one hell of a year, bringing many classic games from other platforms to its ever-growing catalogue, with no signs of slowing down. Now, Remothered: Tormented Fathers probably isn’t on your list of games that absolutely had to come to Switch, but should it have been? Originally released on PS4, Xbox One and PC, back in 2018, it has now finally come to the Nintendo Switch. Remothered is a grounded survival and psychological horror game created by Chris Darril of Darril Arts in partnership with studio Stormind Games. It is the first part of a trilogy, with the follow-up Remothered: Broken Porcelain already having been announced for 2020.
Let’s take a peek into the Felton mansion and see if we can get out alive to tell its horrific tale…
You play the role of Rosemary Reed, a middle-aged woman who is investigating the disappearance of a young adopted girl known as Celeste. The game begins (following a short introduction) with you visiting her home where she lived until she wandered off without a trace. In an interaction that is almost certainly inspired by the meetings between Clarice and Hannibal in The Silence of the Lambs – it’s very strange how similar Rosemary looks like Jodie Foster too – you meet the owner of the house and the adopted father of Celeste, Richard Felton. This interaction sets up the events of the game as you leave the mansion with more questions than answers.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a horror game if something messed up wasn’t going on and Rosemary decides to sneak back into the house to get the answers she craves. It doesn’t take long to witness something truly disturbing that solidifies her intuition that Richard Felton is a deranged guy with some nasty secrets.
What follows over the course of the game (around five hours depending on your exploration) is a truly captivating and haunting tale, in fact, it’s one of the best horror stories I’ve played in years. The story progresses through some surprisingly gripping and very well voice acted cut scenes which are truly impressive for such a small studio, so I look forward to seeing what Stormind can do when they’re given more tools to succeed. You can also learn more about the story via collectables such as newspaper reports and notes which I fully recommend you make an effort to find, as not only do they help you understand the plot but they’re also just super interesting in general.
The game ends in a very satisfying way with a conclusion that’s shocking and clever. It also leaves a lot of questions though that hopefully get answered in the following games in the trilogy.
So, what makes this game such a strong horror experience? Primarily it’s the stealth-heavy gameplay mixed with the psychologically impactful scenes that combine to make a memorable game. You will be spending most of the game sneaking around the Felton mansion, picking up clues and solving mini-puzzles, while trying to piece together the weird things that have happened here. As you wander around, you’re stalked by enemies who can hit you, grab you and kill you. The combination of dark lighting (which is almost unplayable on handheld mode so definitely ‘up’ the brightness) and powerful sound design makes Remothered have some of the most severe and intense stealth sections in any game of this genre.
It definitely plays better in docked mode and with headphones, as sound will play a huge part in your progression. With headphones, you can more clearly hear the speech and footsteps of the enemies that are looking for you allowing you to more safely assess where you can go and when. Without headphones, it can be hard to work out which floor level the enemy is on, making the game much more difficult in some cases.
Speaking of difficulty, this game is tough. You’ve definitely played more difficult games in your life, but as stealth horror games go, I think this might be the toughest and most unforgiving. If you’re unsure where you’re going, checkpoints can be a long time away, with saving only an option by finding certain mirrors inside the mansion. There can be a lot of steps to progressing between saves, like finding objects, unlocking doors and solving puzzles, so it’s important to keep in mind where these save points are as dying between objectives gets very frustrating. On the flip side, the game needs this difficulty and it absolutely feels fair, if the checkpoints were too close together, there would be no apprehension about being found, which this game has in abundance.
You aren’t powerless though, and the game plays well enough so that you always feel like you have a way to defend yourself while maintaining a very high difficulty level.
You have multiple ways to fend for yourself in Remothered, without actually being able to fight. Firstly, you can simply hide. If you crouch in the darkness you can slip by some enemies if you stay quiet enough, or you can hide in wardrobes/cupboards and under beds or sofas until it’s safe. If the stalker is suspicious of your location though, you may have to control your breathing to stay hidden and not give away your position. This is a great little addition to the tension as you never feel safe, even when you think you’re hidden.
There are also some very useful objects you can find scattered throughout the mansion inside draws and cupboards that have two different uses: First there are defence items such as a knife that allows you to fight off the killer when you’re grabbed, or there is a distraction object which you can throw to make noise and send them off in the wrong direction. These are very numerous and very helpful so definitely take advantage of them as the enemies are relentless in their pursuit of you, and have very little stamina to simply run away.
Finally, you can use doors as a sort of ‘stagger’ mechanic. As a stalker approaches through a door, you can shut the door on them so they become stunned, giving you a chance to run away. This is very handy if you find yourself being chased whilst you’re low on stamina. There are also various doors in the mansion that are tied by a rope which you must decide on whether to open or keep them sealed. They may restrict you but they also restrict the AI, so it’s worth keeping a mental note of which doors you have opened to plan your escape route. The variety of ways in which you can defend yourself are very good, you always feel like you’re just on the edge of living which is absolutely perfect for a stealth horror game. Rosemary is not a big or powerful lady but she’s very capable and smart which makes for a very interesting character to fend off the stronger enemies.
While overall the game looks okay, especially for such a small studio, the handheld mode suffers immensely in its visuals. Some parts are a blurred mess and the dark areas of the house are just unplayable – it’s impossible to see where YOU are, nevermind the stalkers. Docked mode fairs much better and despite not looking amazing, is certainly a decent looking enough game that for the most part runs very well. There was the odd frame rate issue but nothing that I felt ever impacted my experience. I will say though that there is a planned update coming very soon that is supposed to be tackling some of the visual issues with the Switch version, so I look forward to seeing how much it will improve the experience.
I suppose my only real issue with the game is that it can feel very mundane. I personally couldn’t play the game for very long, the constant fear of not knowing where the stalker was meant I felt pressured out of looking for collectables or exploring. Sometimes I would have liked a chance to just simply look around without the fear and threat of something lurking in the darkness. The objectives are also sometimes a little unclear as knowing where to look seemed a bit random and hopeful, rather than where I could plan my stealthy route to reach it. This made it mentally draining for me, which I suppose is immersive and adds to the tension, but on a personal level, it made me not want to play it for more than 30 minutes at a time. Imagine Mr. X, from Resident Evil 2, looking for you for an entire game – well, that’s Remothered; It’s relentless.
Without a doubt, the strongest point of the Remothered: Tormented Fathers is its story – the cutscenes and voice acting are superb and would make a very interesting movie. The tension is sometimes unbearable and can lead to unscripted jumpscares as you thought your stalker was somewhere else when they’re actually right behind you. If you’ve seen the movie ‘It Follows’, this game is basically that. The puzzles are simple but fun and the notes are very engaging if you have time to find and read them all.
I really enjoyed Remothered: Tormented Fathers and can’t wait for the next chapter in the trilogy. It’s relentless, tense and disturbing, a true stealth horror masterpiece. I just couldn’t play it for very long because I found the constant worry a bit overwhelming but other people may enjoy that more than me. If you’ve yet to play it, I’m not sure the Switch is the best place to play, but if that’s your only option, then definitely go for it.
*On a side note, SOEDESCO has a physical edition of the game coming to the Nintendo Switch Later this year – links are in the sidebar and HERE*