The scariest thing is… how bad it looks.
Hey all, Xander here. I took on the challenge of playing Remothered: Tormented Fathers, a 2018 title recently ported to the Nintendo Switch. This was an interesting experience, because it has a unique set-up. On a dark and stormy night, you assume the role of a young woman by the name of Dr. Rosemary Reeds. You are exploring the Felton Estate, looking for clues about the mystery of a missing child and what dark deeds could be taking place there. When you find what you’re looking for, the mission changes to escaping the mansion that you have seemingly become a prisoner in. Dr. Reeds will have to equip herself with various items that are dispersed all over the mansion to distract any stalking predators, or defend herself when facing the menacing arms of certain doom.
Ironically, what really holds the player hostage are the graphics. I looked up what Remothered: Tormented Fathers looked like on other platforms, and it’s night and day. The paintings in Princess Peach’s Castle from Super Mario 64 are wildly better looking than the textures you will find in the Felton estate. It’s a muddy mess that is trying to just get by, banking on the player only seeing the mansion through their flash light and dim lighting. The developers from Storming Games have indicated that the graphics will be improving with a patch come October, but it’s worth mentioning the sorry state of the visuals as they are today. Aside from actual gameplay, the menus, pre-rendered cutscenes, solid voice acting, and stellar sound design all hold their own The only other major visual issue I have is that there is a fair amount of exposition found in diary entries, notes, written out thoughts, and letters where the text boxes are incredibly small. I had to get up off of the couch, squat in front of the TV, and squint to make out the words. Obviously, this was not very fun, and you can forget about trying to read much of anything in handheld mode, full stop.
To put a fine point on it, playing in handheld mode is borderline impossible. Every action is slowed to a crawl. It’s already a bit of a slog to get around, but this feels more intentional because movement is based around sneaking and being stealthy, so a slow pace makes sense. But during intense sequences where quick decisions need to be made, performance chugs to what appears to be the console’s breaking point. No item or mechanic in the game can help you when the game is running this poorly. It’s a real shame because this experience, like any game on the Switch, could be really fun to take on the go. Sadly, it’s better to remain tethered to the dock, which again hits on that theme of imprisonment, just not in the way that Switch players are looking for. What’s worse is that I frequently got stuck on different objects in the mansion, clipped into doors, or just glitched, leaving me immobile and a sitting duck.
The gameplay here can be summed up as follows: go here, get key item, go back, rinse, repeat. You’ll often come across a door of some kind and have to go find the key or whatever Mcguffin is needed to progress. To call this a “puzzle” is not really accurate in my eyes. It’s more of the experience where you need to constantly backtrack or find an obvious item that will fix a problem blocking the path forward. You do all of this while trying to not get caught by different characters that lurk in the dark dwelling you are ensnared in. If you are caught, you have precious few moments to make decisions that will determine whether you live or die. You could bolt, and try to get into a hiding spot, throw out a distraction to give yourself more time, or defend yourself. This isn’t a combat-driven experience, so defense comes down to making sure you have an item, and then following the on-screen button prompts to trigger the cutscene of you stabbing someone and then fleeing. You will have to face danger; it’s designed that way. Items needed to progress are located in different sections of the house you are trapped in, and you will have to constantly go back and forth to find them, which inevitably increases your chances of a run-in with danger. That’s pretty much the entirety of what you do here. Remothered doesn’t reinvent anything in the survival horror genre, and it isn’t trying to. It’s nice to have a house filled with disposable items that can assist in a tense situation, but by and large the loose threads in the story are what kept my interest the most.
I think that at the end of the day, there is a good game here, but it’s running poorly and could be better experienced somewhere else. This is a huge disappointment because as a player with the Switch as my primary console, I would have liked to experience Remothered: Tormented Fathers as it was on other platforms. But the huge graphical downgrade (which may or may not be remedied), the total failure of handheld mode, the hurdles of trying to read supplemental material, and the presence of glitches all added up to an extremely frustrating experience. Hopefully someday Remothered: Tormented Fathers on the Nintendo Switch is improved through one or more patches, because I do think that fans of the genre will enjoy the game, just on a different console.