Quick Look – In Sound Mind (#JustOnePercent 76/100)

Developer: We Create Stuff
Release Date: September 28, 2021
MSRP: $34.99

Sometimes, things just seem to all fall into place.

In Sound Mind is one of the games in the August 2022 Humble Choice Bundle (available to purchase through 9/6). It was already on my list for the #JustOnePercent Project after it was given away by the Epic Games Store back in March, but I rarely turn down the opportunity to get a Steam copy when I can, and I rarely pass up the Humble Choice even when I am not sure about any of the games in it.

Then, on August 4th, UnwiseOwl asked the #Blaugust2022 community if we might be interested in doing a group review of the bundle. A little bit of fiddling with my blog calendar later, I was penciled in to take a quick look at In Sound Mind, which I was planning to do anyway. Always good when I can knock off multiple goals with a single post.

Pickup Group – This one is gained by playing a game or joining in an external event with other Blaugust participants. We have the “Gaming-Together” channel and sometimes groups come out of that, and there was some discussion about someone hosting a one-shot pen and paper game. The whole goal here is to get you mingling with other members and building permanent bonds.

Ahem. Now, we return you to your regularly scheduled Quick Look.

I really want to like horror games. I keep buying horror games. I sometime even install and attempt to play some horror games. But the truth is, I’m a giant wimp. It’s rare that I make it much past the first jump scare.

Which is to say, at least for me, In Sound Mind is pretty damn creepy, right from the opening shots of a town half under water. It’s dark and eerie and would almost definitely benefit from being played in a dark room, if you’re far far braver than I am. For the record, I also played on the easiest, story-mode difficulty, so I’m not sure if everything I’m saying is also true in the higher difficulties.

After the intro, you wake up in the basement of a building that looks like it’s probably seen better decades. It’s still dark, but you can kind of see what you’re doing. My first impulse was to scrounge around for some sort of weapon, but there wasn’t anything I could interact with until I found my first note. There are a lot of notes in this game, and they range from the mundane to the very very creepy indeed.

Interactable items are visible from a good distance due to the weird eyeball indicator that marks them. I’m a fan of when games are clear about what you can and cannot touch, because I am not a fan of pixel hunting, but for some players, they may find this dilutes the exploratory experience.

The first actually useful thing you’re likely to find is a flashlight, and you’ll need to be pretty constantly collecting batteries until the end of time, or at least, the end of the game. Early on, it’s all just ambiance and puzzle solving as you try to figure out where you are, how you got here, and what the hell is going on, exactly. I was starting to think this might be the rare horror game that’s all aesthetic and none of the “stuff that’s forever trying to murder you”.

Flickering lights and cryptic phone calls I can handle. Then I found a note telling me where to get the pieces of a pistol, and I knew I’d be fighting something sooner or later. However, about an hour and a half in, the conflicts that you must resolve with violence seem to be few and far between.

You didn’t have to call me out so hard here, game, you really didn’t.

The game drip-feeds you information in some really neat sequences in which you listen to the audio cassettes you’ll find while exploring. This is the main mechanic of moving the game forward, and it’s definitely impactful. Plus, since they’re the story-bits, you are basically pretty much safe during them, which I appreciated.

Probably my biggest gripe is that In Sound Mind doesn’t let you save whenever you like – there are periodic autosaves, and that’s all you get. You can, however, pause anywhere at least as far as I’ve played. This is helpful if you might be called away from the game for a few minutes, or if, y’know, you need to take a break and let your heart rate return to something resembling normal.

As expected, I’m rubbish at the game’s combat, so even though I’m invested in the story, I realize I might not be able to complete it. Ammunition for your pistol is scarce, and if you’re prone to shooting wildly, like I am, you will likely find yourself having to rely on melee for the conflicts where you can’t just run away. Personally, I am a big fan of the “just running away” strategy whenever possible.

Since the scare-factor is just about spot-on for my taste, I expect that true horror game aficionados might find this one a little bit tame for them. I’m definitely more likely to bail on this one because I can’t deal with the fighting rather than because I scared myself silly playing it. However, I do intend to continue playing it, which is notable in itself.

Although I’m guessing we can all agree that mannequins that move on their own and give you a thumbs up are horrifying, right? It’s not just me, is it?

How Long To Beat estimates that In Sound Mind can be completed in under 10 hours, so for me, the purchase price is a little steep. It has been given away by Epic, and was recently marked down by 85% to just over $5. Given all that, I’m not sure that this is the game that you’d pick up the August Humble Choice for, but if you’re already leaning that way based on some of the other games included in the bundle, I’d say that In Sound Mind is definitely worth giving a whirl. I mean, provided you like games that are weird and scary (but not too scary), because this one is most definitely both of those things.

SteamDB estimates that In Sound Mind has sold between 26,700 and 73,400 copies on Steam. While those aren’t super impressive sales numbers, it’s very well liked. Being given away so close to release likely impacted its sales figures, but I’m guessing that this developer will see much more interest in whatever they put out next. It is ranked 205 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

2 thoughts on “Quick Look – In Sound Mind (#JustOnePercent 76/100)

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