By Ben Barrett on August 29th, 2013 at 8:00 am.
If you’ve just looked at that image and thought “grim” then we’re on the same page. In Torment: The Case of the Drawing Girl is the somewhat dark tale of an investigator attempting to piece together the facts of a murder case. This is played out through a simple point and click interface of gathering evidence and moving chests of drawers. Your advantage over a standard human is “hunches” which play out by jumping into and interacting with the titular drawings. It’s completely free so I’ve played the first of three increasingly disquieting plotlines and I’ve got some thoughts, as well as a trailer, just for you.
With games like this, the usual line is good concept, poorly executed or not exploited to its fullest. It’s refreshing to see some real variety and thought has gone into every part of In Torment. The main meat of it comes from exploring the painted world created by the girl who witnessed the crime. It uses a simple style and crayon-colouring but is incredibly well drawn despite it. There’s something properly disturbing about the depictions of violence and horror played out in such a childlike way. Facts about the case must be gleaned from visual clues as well as written and then used in interrogations of the suspect and witness to uncover more truths. There’s no win state: whenever you’re ready you can submit your case to the department and you’re done. Consequences of your failure (usually caused by red herrings) or success are then played out.
It stumbles at times: there’s a lack of clarity as to what effect you’re having on those you’re talking to until they decide to open up. There’s an attempt made to convey things through changes in the tone of their dialogue, but attempting every available option is always the best route. Parts where you talk to the suspect get a little odd, the connections between what you’re doing and a real world equivalent not as clear as they could be. There’s also some amount of repetition between stories – I’ve only started the second, but parts of the puzzles are the same. It’s deliberate somewhat, meant to be three versions of the same story, but that doesn’t really excuse it.
I’m willing to forgive because it’s an experimental gem of a game. Potential floods from it and I’m interested to see what the other scenarios do different. If you are too, grab it free.