Early last year I took a look at a game that stood up against Artifex Mundi as a horror-based adult version of their ever-popular Hidden Object Games, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 1. Its dark tones, spooky story, difficult platinum, and abundance of puzzles, all made that game a worthy alternative for those looking for a casual horror puzzle game. This week saw the release of the long-awaited sequel, and ‘conclusion’, to the story in the aptly named True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2.
Although set within its own enclosed story – for the most part – True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is part of a trilogy – prior knowledge of what happened in the first game (and the bonus episode that came with it) is highly recommended as the events within this episode will make more sense. Also, developer Goblinz has gone all-out with the puzzles this time around, delivering a game that is approximately two-three times bigger and longer than the previous one in the series, dropping the Hidden Object puzzles in favour of actual ‘puzzles’ only.
So, turn off the lights, put on your headphones and get yourself comfy, you’ll not want to turn the game off despite how creepy it gets – let’s find out why…
True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 starts off immediately after the events of the first game (so I’ll try to be spoiler-free for those who haven’t played it yet (I highly recommend you go play it first).
Holly Stonehouse (our protagonist) finds herself on the road, off to visit Dark Falls Asylum, in hopes of finding answers to the questions and information she found within her old family home in the prior episode. As you’d expect, she ends up crashing her car, leaving herself stranded outside of this forsaken place (not expected because she’s a female driver, expected because this is how almost every game like this starts!). Once you’ve scouted the area, had a few spooks, and solved a few puzzles, you find yourself locked within the grounds of the asylum, unable to leave or call for help.
As you walk the deserted hallways, you’ll begin to discover more information on your sister, the mysterious Dahlia, your mother, and why you’ve been called to this place. Although you’re there alone, you’re never on your own as spirits of the past still haunt this damned place, unable to move on due to reasons unknown. As well as the patients, the staff also had their own dirty secrets and questionable motives (when they were alive), secrets that will come to light as you read through emails, find old documents, relive the past via visions, and investigate your surroundings.
Not only are you looking for answers about your mother and your sister, but you’ll also be seeking further information on Jack, a patient who went crazy (as per Part 1’s bonus chapter), and the whereabouts of a reporter who has also recently entered the asylum and left audio recordings lying around – which increasingly become more desperate and terrified. There is also something else going on, which I won’t spoil for you, but this game is much deeper than the first part and explores a very interesting and intriguing story which perfectly sets up Part 3 (and hopefully a bonus chapter which ‘may’ get added at a later date).
Have you played any Artifex Mundi Hidden Object games before? If so, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is very similar only with one major difference, there are no Hidden Object Puzzles (HoPs). Part 1 gave you the choice of switching out HoPs for standard puzzles, yet this time around its standard puzzles all the way and I love that they’ve done this. I’ll come to the puzzles next as I want to talk about the actual controls and mechanics first as both of these are a little ‘iffy’.
First up the controls. Just like the first game, you move the reticle around the screen with the Left Thumbstick and you can either pick up/use/look at something with Cross and use the item you have selected in your item bar with the Square button – simple. You also have buttons to quickly bring up the map, swap items, go to your notes (which you’ll be using a lot), grab a hint, and you can even move around using the D-Pad rather than clicking the edges of the screen. So far, so good, right?! Well…
Two things return from the original game, two things I complained about back then and will complain about now. First, the on-screen cursor has acceleration. This means the harder and longer you push the Thumbstick, the faster it gradually gets – this makes precise movements impossible unless you move it in small bursts or slowly. However, this is fixed using the Touchpad as it operates as a mouse and is the perfect way to play the game due to how accurate and sensitive it is. Although, pushing in the Touchpad does nothing – you still have to use the face buttons on the right of the controller – meaning you have to hold the pad awkwardly with two hands.
In my opinion, the game should let you push in the touchpad to perform a ‘Cross’ action and also flip the controls as right-handed people, like myself, find it easier using the Touchpad with their right hand but the face buttons are on the right as well. I ended up using the PS4 accessibility options and remapping all the controls manually so I could use the Touchpad, as the acceleration was a pain. Also, most games that let you use the Touchpad as a makeshift mouse usually lets you use an actual mouse on the PS4 (a little known fact that a lot of people don’t know – a lot of PS4 games support mouse and keyboard). But, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 doesn’t work with a mouse – if it did, it would have been a great way to play the game.
Other than those two returning complaints, the overall mechanics of the game are quite simple. You’ll be regularly picking up items and then using them on various objects in the environment – there are no inventory puzzles that require you to combine items and there are no fetch quests for other people – it’s all about clicking on everything and exploring in order to find things you can possibly use later. However, one of the things I loved about True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is that you can’t always just pick up random objects if you don’t need them. You’ll have to come back for them when you do need them. Sure, that may sound cumbersome but it’s much better than picking up an item in the first ten minutes and only using it at the very end of the game.
One bit of advice though, as the game doesn’t actually tell you about this – certain items can be used by grabbing them in the item bar and dragging them around the screen – such as lenses. These are used to see things you wouldn’t usually be able to see, yet the game doesn’t actually tell you that you can do this. I had to look at a YouTuber playing the PC version to realise that you have to do this in order to progress.
Basically, on PC you have to drag items from your item bar onto the screen, in order to use them – so you’ll realise dragging the lense around unveils hidden things naturally. Using a controller you get used to pressing Square to use items, so you never actually drag them around. I imagine this is an oversight that the developers didn’t realise, thus they never implemented a pop-up tip telling you that you can drag the item in order to use it.
As previously mentioned, the notepad is a key mechanic this time around. The game is a much more padded out and deep adventure game than the previous one, containing a lot of clues and key information for you to find. As such, everything that’s important, such as clues, solutions, images, notes, emails, and recordings, are all stored in your notebook which you can read at any time. The great thing about this is, as you complete the puzzles, the clues to the ones you’ve completed will be removed from your book, basically leaving you with a list of things you’re working on without calling itself a checklist or ‘to-do’ list. It makes it feel a lot more immersive and ‘real’. (Holly has an obsession with throwing things away when she’s used them or thinks she’ll no longer need them – she regrets throwing away her glass-moving glove numerous times!)
As I mentioned above, gone are the Hidden Object puzzles and in their place are the environmental and object-based ones instead. In total, there are over 40 (forty) puzzles throughout the game, which is crazy, not including the various progression based ones like using certain items with the environment and looking for clues in every scene. For me, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is a massive step up from the first game. None of the puzzles were too tricky, but I felt they were all presented with enough challenge and crypticness to keep you entertained and puzzled about what to do.
The genre of puzzles varies throughout the game, such as jigsaws, ‘Lights-Out’, spot the difference, numerical puzzles, and sliding emblems. However, although there are a few formats repeating, they’ve been re-skinned and designed in a way that you never feel like you’re doing the same thing twice. True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 also likes to play with you, having you sit there and complete a jigsaw only to find that there are a few pieces missing, which you’ll have to look out for as you progress through new rooms and areas. Also, you’ll have to think outside of the box in order to deal with some of the environmental puzzles, as the initial solution isn’t always the one the game is looking for.
Depending on your skill level and experience with these types of games, you can adjust the difficulty accordingly. There are two sliders, one for the exploration side of the game and the other for the puzzles. Adjusting the difficulty of the puzzles will give you options like the ability to skip puzzles and easier solutions on a few puzzle-types. Adjusting the difficulty of the exploration will enable interactive items to be highlighted, the hint option, indicators on the map screen showing you where an action is possible, and other helpful hints. As such, the game is very accessible for everyone and offers a lot of support (although you need to complete it on Expert for the platinum).
Is it spooky?
Yes, yes it is… The first game surprised me as it took a beloved format (Hidden Objects) and created a game with jump scares and a slightly disturbing atmosphere, so I thought I was ready for what True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 was going to present me with. I was wrong. Sure, it’s not Resident Evil 2 or Agony, but there were a number of jumps that got me and the overall experience was unnerving and creepy – I was on edge and expecting things to jump out all the time, simply because of the music and the tense atmosphere the game creates.
The animated cutscenes are much higher quality this time around, delivering a more effective horror experience, and the game loves luring you into a false sense of security and then BOOM, it gets you! My only issue with the cutscenes, and also a word of warning for those with headphones, is the volume of a few scenes. I understand why they are so loud, as it fits the event which is occurring (which is very spooky), but R.I.P. eardrums!
The narrative within True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is a psychological horror combined with visual horror elements, it also isn’t very straight forward. There’s a lot going on and a number of things you may not notice or understand on your first playthrough. The ending of this particular chapter, for example, may not initially make much sense – as I even came away from it rather unimpressed at first. However, after playing the game a second time for the platinum and reading everything whilst also re-experiencing things after I now know the outcome, the ending made more sense and it’s brilliant. I have so many theories about what’s going to happen next and why certain events happened within the asylum.
Just like Part 1, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 has a plethora of bonus features and additional content to access once you’ve completed the game.
Throughout the game there are fourteen collectable figures to find, each one looks great (like horror-based Amiibos) and gives you a short description of the person they depict. However, I did find that some of them almost spoil the game, offering insight into the various characters which our protagonist shouldn’t know, sometimes a bit ‘too much’ information at that point. My suggestion, find them all but read them once you’ve finished the game if you want to come up with your own theories and conclusions. Also, you don’t need any guidance or help with finding these as I found all of them on my first playthrough when I was playing it blind.
Once you’ve finished the game you’ll unlock a few wallpapers (which is nice but the ‘back’ and ‘close’ symbols remain on screen, making them useless), a few ‘making of’ text and images, you can re-read all the evidence you’ve found, listen to all the music tracks, replay any of the puzzles, and re-watch all the cutscenes. There’s even a list of all of the trophies with short descriptions on how to obtain them (although the majority of them you’ll get as you play the game). Speaking of which – True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is much easier to platinum than the first game (you’ll be happy to hear). No more completing puzzles within a certain time!
The main omission from this game, over the previous Part, is the lack of a bonus episode. I’ve heard that the PC version is getting the bonus episode added post-release (it released in Nov 2018 on PC) and that it’s supposedly as long as the entire first Part! So, I’m hoping that when they get it, we get it too. There are two side-stories I would love to play through as a bonus chapter in order to set us up for the third game, either the story of the journalist who leaves behind tapes for Holly in the asylum or maybe the story behind one of the original nurses back when the asylum was open. Although I imagine some of those may be a part of the third game.
One thing I would like to note is that after playing True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2, the bonus chapter from the first game didn’t make much sense. Within that episode, Holly comes to the asylum and explores it, finding out information on Jack, the patient who went on a rampage and killed all of the staff within the building. However, the asylum in Part 2 is completely different from the bonus chapter’s version, yet the events with Jack are still part of the lore. But, the game does begin with our protagonist waking up at the wheel so maybe the bonus episode was a dream? I’m really not sure.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is so good, in terms of its visuals, puzzles, music and vocal presentation. Each and every scene looks really creepy and abandoned (as it should) and all of the cutscenes are much higher quality than we saw originally, with a number of them offering jump scares or disturbing behaviour. Also, in terms of the size, the map this time around is huge! Whereas the last game had you in your old house, at another house, and briefly in the asylum, this game may only be the asylum but it’s got multiple buildings, multiple floors and easily over double the number of scenes as part 1.
The music perfectly fits the atmosphere, creating a spooky and tense experience as you walk around the buildings both at night and during the day. The vocals are also very good, hearing things in the distance and all around you as you walk through the empty rooms. However, some characters are a little cheesy and over the top at times, and the volume levels in a few scenes will blow your eardrums if you’re wearing earphones, but it all adds to the charm of the game (apart from if your ears do actually bleed).
One thing which will annoy pretty much everyone who plays True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is the loading times and sluggish feeling you get whilst playing. Each time you move to a new scene you have to wait around eight seconds (this is on the PS4 Pro with an external USB 3.0 SSHD) and opening up in-scene windows (like zooming into a bench) takes about four. Sure, it doesn’t sound like much but the PC version is instantaneous, making this version seem very slow and irritating. I seriously hope the developer can speed up the transitions between scenes – especially before the bonus chapter and/or Part 3 releases.
My main issue, with the technical side, has to be the Touchpad and the acceleration in the Thumbstick again. It’s nice that they allowed the use of the Touchpad as a mouse, but the clicking in of it should also be mapped to something and the buttons should be adjusted accordingly for both right and left-handed people. Similarly, I feel we should have the option to turn off the acceleration of the cursor and possibly have a button to hold which will speed it up – as Artifex Mundi do. They’ve perfected the controls in games like these, so developers should really look at how they’ve done it and build off that.
Offering more puzzles, more scenes, and a deeper story, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is a fantastic sequel to Part 1. Dropping the Hidden Object puzzles in favour of over 40 standard puzzles was a great choice as the game is now a full-on exploration and puzzle adventure game combined with a psychological and visual horror narrative. The inclusion of various difficulty sliders for each gameplay aspect also allows the game to be enjoyed by players of all skill levels, helpful for those with little experience and challenging for those who want to really think about things. I strongly advise you to pick up and play Part 1 first as it’ll allow you to enjoy Part 2 much more with its continuation of the story.
Whether you’re looking for some casual puzzles encased within an interesting and horror-based narrative, or you want a spooky game to play late at night that’ll last about 15 hours, True Fear: Forsaken Souls ~ Part 2 is waiting for you to buy it. I have theories and ideas about what I think will be disclosed in Part 3, I just hope we don’t have to wait three years to view the final conclusion to this thrilling adventure…
If you’re still unsure if the game is for you, there’s a demo on PSN for both part 1 and 2.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls - Part 2£7.99
- - Creepy atmosphere with a really interesting and deep narrative
- - Over 40 puzzles and tonnes of unique scenes to explore
- - Lots of story-based collectables and notes to find which further flesh out the untold side of the story
- - Easy or challenging based upon your difficulty preferences
- - Entertaining and exciting story despite being the middle chapter of a trilogy
- - The Touchpad and cursor acceleration are still an 'issue'
- - No bonus chapter this time (but maybe in the future?)
- - The developers have made me want to play Part 3 right now! But, I must be patient...
- - The loading times, albeit only 4-8 seconds, soon add up and makes the game feel sluggish to play