Genre: Action Psychological Horror Violent Nudity Gore Adventure Indie
Developer: Stormind Games
Publisher: Darril Arts
Release Date: Jan 30, 2018
Without a doubt, Remothered: Tortured Fathers has proven to be one of the most difficult reviews I have written to date, and with a library of over 500 reviews on record, that certainly tells me that this title exists in a plethora of in-between categories. It is simultaneously rewarding and infuriating; confusing, but thought-provoking; controversial but also narrow-minded – and as a long-time lover of the Survival Horror genre, with a soft spot for ambitious storytelling and Gothic Mystery style atmospheres, it pains me to score Remothered so much lower than I had hoped to. But this game, which released on January 30th, 2018, from Darril Arts and Stormind Games, is a mixed bag of very conflicting experiences.
Let’s begin by discussing the storyline and plot, which is arguably one of the most confusing, frustrating elements of Remothered. I don’t want to reveal too much because the plot twists and unlocked secrets are a huge part of this experience, but I will say that, in the end, I found the story to be exceptionally convoluted. We begin with a clever cutscene showing us Rosemary, our protagonist, at an advanced age, speaking with someone who seems to be a reporter. Then, we flashback decades in the past, and find Rosemary on the grounds of a huge, towering mansion, but there is little in the way of explanation for why Rosemary is here to investigate. Why do we care? Why does she care? We find out there is a missing girl, the daughter of the primary antagonist – Mr. Felton, a deeply disturbed, mostly naked individual that the players meet shortly after gaining access to the mansion. The meeting goes poorly, which means Rosemary has to sneak back in under the cover of darkness and a violent storm to be stealthy in her investigation. Mr. Felton roams around, ready to attack and apprehend Rosemary if she’s discovered, spouting off some pretty heavy-handed, misogynistic tirades that seem extreme even for someone obviously delusional.
The trouble is that Remothered tackles some very serious, conversation-worthy topics – like mental illness, gender identity, trauma, psychological factors – but it does it in a way that lacks true consideration for individuals that actually live these realities. Especially as a female gamer, I don’t need my Survival Horror titles to be rampant with hate-speech and trauma directed towards women; I can deal with that outside, every day, in the real world. Every single bad thing that happens in Remothered: Tormented Fathers happens to a woman, from Rosemary’s experiences to Mr. Felton’s backstory, and even that of his daughter, Celeste, and her mother. Literally, every single horrific thing is enacted on a female character, and the anti-woman dialog used by the NPCs is a bit over the line in my book. Misogyny, hate-speech, and using mental illness as plot devices is weak storytelling at best, and at worst, it promotes misunderstandings and negative stigma around individuals who are the targets of these topics.
It’s the exact opposite of the conversations that Pop Culture and the media need to be having, and awareness, correct representation, and tolerance are not buzzwords without any necessity. Quite the opposite, in fact – and Remothered is an immersive experience in a medium that reaches countless gamers, so selling this dialog quickly becomes destructive if not downright irresponsible. As a lover of the genre, I am very tired of legitimate mental health situations being used as a weak plot device to explain violent, aggressive, or psychotic behavior, especially when said condition has no actual link to an increase in those dangerous outcomes. I understand that the Horror genre, across the board, is going to be linked to these sorts of extreme situations and prejudices, but Remothered tosses a handful of them into a blender, and produces something that fails to deliver a cohesive, complete, believable story, while layering on so many elements that it just reeks of poor plot development. I defeated the game, having accessed a lot of “secret” content, and it took me awhile to piece together exactly what story Remothered was trying to sell me. Any title that promises to be a trilogy runs the risk of cliffhangers and confusing content, but Remothered takes that to a whole new level of infuriating lack of cohesion.
Beyond these complaints regarding the content of Remothered, this title suffers from a few extremely disappointing oversights. First of all, the nature of the game – from the Survival Horror aspect to the sneaking around as enemies wander through the mansion – relies heavily on the atmosphere, and specifically, the sound. Remothered feels like it intended to have 3D positioned audio as cues so that players can listen for their opponents rather than just walking blindly into a room. Unfortunately, the sound simply doesn’t work; I would hear Mr. Felton talking as though he was just behind me, even when he was down on another level. Also, if Rosemary runs at any time, her opponents immediately rush to where she is. Ducking into hiding places is fun, especially with the “keep calm” mini-game to avoid capture, but most of the time I was creeping around corners blindly, just trying to see where the enemies had gone. It broke the immersion quickly, and is such a shame because if the sound worked better it would have made the gameplay exceptionally more fun. The ability to find a Defense item, which would free me if an enemy got me in their clutches, was fun; the Diversion items, which are really just a decoy, was less effective or enjoyable.
There are also issues with framerate drops – which was decidedly worse for me after a patch that said it fixed the issue – plus minor concerns, like the inability to remap keys or to adjust audio/graphics settings separately. My game would have run much better if I could have turned shadows down, for example, but there are only four default settings with their own slider adjustment hardwired in. There are quick-time events in Remothered that lend to the suspense, but especially towards the end, these felt far more frustrating and way less rewarding, especially since the game does not auto-save after these events. I was forced to succeed at the challenges and then go find a save point to update my log manually, meaning that Remothered kept me captive unless I wanted to quit and lose all of my progress. I crashed to desktop once and lost almost an hour’s worth of work, simply because the game hadn’t saved after a cutscene or quick-time event. Little things like this are fairly easy to “fix” with patches, but all of them together accumulate to drastically reduce the playability and enjoyment of Remothered.
I love Survival Horror as much as the next ‘90s fangirl, and Remothered: Tormented Fathers actually looks like an AAA title most of the time. It’s immersive and atmospheric and feels like a love letter to a genre that is woefully neglected in modern nights. Unfortunately, that just isn’t enough to make it the high-quality experience that it came so close to being. The plot holes and story content make the ending very unsatisfying, and the fodder used for the sake of telling this tale should come with trigger warnings including misogyny, child abuse, negative portrayal of mental illness, and more.
I’ve played enough Horror and Psychological Thriller titles to know that these themes can be done with care and to argue that they should be – Remothered’s lack of consideration and finesse is a true disappointment. Players who don’t have an issue with these themes might also find the ending lackluster, confusing, and disappointing; the polish simply isn’t here. This extends to the issues with manual saves, poor framerates, the issues with the sound direction, and so forth. I’m willing to give the next chapter a try, but with strong reservations, and I can’t recommend this title to other players without issuing these particular warnings. Remothered: Tormented Fathers is worth a playthrough, especially if purchased on sale, but only by gamers who have chosen to opt-in to these themes and design limitations.
- Strong Survival Horror themes
- Great atmosphere
- Fantastic sound/soundtrack
- Decent length (7-9 hours playtime)
- Excellent voice acting
- Clean interface
- Convoluted storyline
- Strong “trigger” warning content
- Terrible positional sound
- No auto-save after quicktime/cutscene
- Cannot remap keys
- No individual settings adjustments
Lori May gives Remothered: Tormented Fathers a Drastik Measure of 5 out of 10 (50).
Remothered: Tormented Fathers is available on Steam for $14.99 USD.