Up until now, Artifex Mundi has had the monopoly on the Hidden Object Game (HoG) genre on modern consoles, this is a genre myself and my parents love to play as the games are fun, casual, accessible for everyone, and above all interesting with their various art styles and stories. However, in comes Goblinz with True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part One out now on the PS4 – a developer and game I hadn’t heard of before but since playing the game, I am following very closely. Whereas Artifex Mundi likes to be fantastical with their games and send you off to enchanted lands filled with magic and talking animals, Gobliz has created a much darker, realistic game in which it aims to try and scare and disturb you. The question is, can this game make a mark in the genre which is in need of more developers?
Just so you are aware, this is part one of the trilogy, a trilogy which still isn’t complete even though the first game came out on PC back in October 2016. The latest update from the developer on Facebook goes into the reason behind why part two has been delayed and won’t come out for a few more months. The gist of it is that over the last six years (the developer wrote the story six years ago) factors have come into play and the story has been changed and things altered. The developer wasn’t happy with the final product, so they went back to it and they are working on making it more like the original vision. It also appears the game has come to the PS4 in order to help them financially – so I advise all those who like the look of the game to go grab it and help the developer out.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part One (which I’ll refer to as True Fear from now on), isn’t a horror game as such. The game is more akin to a psychological thriller puzzle game with HoG segments and a rather big bonus section (which I’ll get into later). The story revolves around our protagonist, Holly, as you receive a letter from your sister whom you haven’t heard from in over ten years. She desperately advises you that she needs help and requires your presence in her house as soon as possible. From the moment you arrive at the address you know something isn’t right, the house looks abandoned and it seems as if nothing has been touched in years.
You find the key and head inside and being to explore the building for your sister – she must surely be there as she sent you a letter telling you to come! As you search through the rooms and find seemingly random objects which help you progress in other rooms, you begin to see things, a young girl maybe? Clearly, you believe you are going nuts and seeing things as you don’t believe in ghosts and as I said above, who sent the letter if that’s the case as ghosts don’t have the ability to sent letters, do they?
The problem is, the more you look around the house, the more things you uncover about what’s gone on there. The question is, do you carry on uncovering the truth or do you leave and pretend you were never there? That’s up to you… Obviously I’m not going to spoil the story, but you have a solid 5-7 hours of gameplay here if you’re a once and done type of person; however, if you are looking to get the platinum or most of the trophies then you’re here for a lot longer!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the game itself, there is something a game like this needs and something they should all have – perfect controls. I’m sad to say that this is the one place that True Fear fails in my eyes and the Artifex Mundi titles still reign supreme. The movement is a horrible accelerated style, so the longer you’re holding the left stick in a direction for, the faster it gets – which is beyond annoying if I’m being honest. Up until the last patch I was actually using the touchpad to control the game as it was fast but super responsive and it allowed you to select things with a high level of precision.
Since the latest update, it appears they have slowed down movement on the touchpad! I have looked at the menus and there is no option to disable acceleration or to pick a movement speed – if the developer reads this, please give us a steady speed and the option to adjust the speed manually in the options in Part Two as having solid controls is probably the most important thing in these games.
That being said, the game is fully playable and my parents enjoyed playing the whole thing from beginning to end with the controller with no issues, It’s just as someone who is used to the controls in other games of the same genre, True Fear is clearly behind in that aspect – but based on this game, only in that aspect…
If you’re not familiar with HoG style games, maybe take a look at my two Artifex Mundi reviews (Eventide 2 and Abyss). Basically, you have three stages to the game – exploration, puzzles and hidden object games.
Within the exploration stage, you are looking around the house which is represented as great looking still images of each room. You will also trigger a few cutscenes which can be both animated or a simple 2d image moving about (it’s better than I make it sound!). During this mode, your goal is to traverse around, look out for hidden diary pages (which explain the secrets behind the house and what’s been going on), interact with ‘hot spots’ for the other two sections below, seek out items to help you move on, and also use the found items to unlock new pathways.
The Puzzle stages are basically what you think they are, puzzles. True Fear has a great selection of puzzles within the game ranging from colour by numbers to building a railway track for a toy train. I thought these puzzles were all really well done with only one of them messing up on me (the painting one) but this has been fixed within a patch recently. There is also a lot of puzzles if I’m being honest as a game like this would give you about 5-10 puzzles, True Fear gives you 23 puzzles on top of the hidden object ones! That’s a lot of things to keep your brain active!
Finally, the hidden object stages are what defines the genre and True Fear gives you a few options. By default, hidden object stages consist of an image of a place or thing with a list of items somewhere on the screen and it’s up to you to find all of these items within a set time and without making a lot of mistakes. This is the mode you have within this game when you start it up and you can play through it like that just fine. However, if you want something different then there is an option to disable the hidden object puzzles – this doesn’t disable them, it simply changes them into a different kind of puzzle! Instead of finding items, you will be in the same view with the same items on screen but it will be your task to find an item to perform an action to obtain an item for another task. It’s hard to explain but one of them you pull off a metal bar from a kiosk so you can grab some keys – then you move a coat to find a lock box and you use those keys to unlock it and then use the item inside for something else.
There is a lot of content in this game and some quite tricky trophies surrounding them – this isn’t your basic 3-4 hours HoG game with an easy platinum – True Fear makes you work for your trophies!
Similarly to most of the Artifex Mundi titles, True Fear also comes with a bonus story added on at the end – I won’t mention anything to do with that story as it follows on from the main game. It does add around 2 hours to the gameplay though, so that’s pretty good, and the story was equally as thrilling and creepy as the main game was. I seriously can’t wait for the next instalment! I really hope it comes to PS4 at the same time as it hits the PC this year as otherwise, I may have to grab it on PC first then PS4 later!
Another cool feature of the game lies within it’s ‘extras’ menu. Once you have completed the game and you take a look at the extras menu, you have access to some Wallpapers (which are a bit redundant on a console I guess), the trophies, what collectables you found, the cutscenes and you can play all of the music. However, on top of this, you also have deleted scenes, the making of sketches (which shows concept to final product), a trailer for True Fear Part Two and you can also view and replay all of the puzzles and Hidden Object/Alt mode games in one place! This is pretty awesome for this type of game as I’ve never seen so many options and bonus features for you to look at and interact with.
Another added bonus – there is a demo on PSN for free which you can download if you wish to try out the game before buying it. It can be obtained by clicking here.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part One is an amazing breath of fresh air into the Hidden Object Game genre and I would personally rank it up there as one of my favourite titles within it in the last 12 months. From the creepy realistic atmosphere to the confusing, yet solvable puzzles, True Fear had me hooked from beginning to end and even had me turning on the lights at one point… Graphically the game looks great and you can tell a lot of love and care went into creating a game based on a specific vision – we are all just hoping now that parts two and three follow suit and can equally match or surpass this level of quality.
If you like hidden object games then this is a clear no-brainer, especially at the low price. Grab the demo above if you’re still unsure, but I’m sure you will love it as much as I did if casual puzzle games are your thing.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls - Part 1£7.99
- Very atmospheric with it's visuals and audio
- Really interesting story and setting
- Loads of puzzles to complete and secrets to uncover
- Great price for the amount of content in the main game, the bonus episode, and the bonus features
- The controls feel a bit stiff due to the acceleration in motion
- We aren't sure on when part two and three will be out (but part one is self-contained)
- Even with the new '2 minute' timer on completing minigames for a trophy - it's pretty hard!