As I’ve probably mentioned before, when it comes to video games, horror is probably my favourite genre. I love the interesting ways in which a game can conjure up your negative emotions—fear, dread, panic—in a controlled environment, and somehow make them fun.
I’m always intrigued when a new horror game is sent my way, so I was initially excited to try Remothered: Tormented Fathers; I had heard good things about it when it was released in 2018, and CGM’s Joel Couture was optimistic when he previewed the game. However, while I cannot speak to the objective quality of the Remothered: Tormented Fathers on other consoles, the Nintendo Switch version is an absolute mess and the real horror is how anyone thought this was okay to release.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers tells the story of Rosemary Reed, who is investigating the strange and mysterious Richard Felton and the disappearance of his daughter Celeste. However, when Mr. Felton is unwilling to discuss his daughter, things escalate and Rosemary is asked to leave his estate. Unsatisfied, Rosemary sneaks back under the cover of night, and things take a turn for the worse as a deranged, sickle wielding Mr. Fulton is not receptive of late-night guests. From there, Rosemary must fight to stay unseen and alive to uncover the mystery of Celeste’s disappearance.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers takes the form of a “stalker” horror game, much like Clock Tower or Resident Evil 3; where the player must explore and solve puzzles while constantly being pursued by a deadly enemy. Ineffectual in combat, the player must hide or use distraction items or defensive items to break from their pursuer’s grasp. In theory, the design is solid, creating a tense atmosphere where you’re constantly on edge and trying to stay one step ahead of danger.
In practice however, at least with the Switch version, none of that is present. The biggest problem is that it’s a visual nightmare. You may be fooled initially into believing the game is more graphically competent than it is, as the cutscenes are actually rendered quite nicely—then the actual game begins and you see what a complete mess it is. The reduced resolution that comes with the Switch version makes everything appear as a pixelated mess, and in many cases, objects lack any sort of definition or object-lines separating them from everything else. Pictures, paintings, or anything that has lettering on it is just a mangle of incoherent shape and is made even worse when playing in handheld, where the resolution drops even further and the screen size is drastically reduced.
This makes Remothered: Tormented Fathers less of a horror experience and more of a gauntlet of frustration when trying to sneak around the dark mess of grey/dark blue corridors, desperately squinting to see if the thing in the distance is your enemy or just a statue that became a pixelated blob. I don’t understand how Panic Button can make Doom look great—or even pretty good—on Switch given its limitations, and yet even simplistic games like this struggle to look decent.
Furthermore, the audio is a complete joke in the Switch version. There’s no sense of balance or adaptive audio, so when things are close they’re incredibly loud, and when they’re far away they are quiet. This makes trying to understand the location of your pursuer difficult, as they can be a whole floor above or below you and sound like they’re right beside you.
Both of these problems hamper the game’s experience significantly, as you’ll spend more time hiding or waiting around a corner hoping for an enemy to appear than you will progressing through the game. Or, in some cases, you’ll enter a room you had no idea an enemy was in because you have no idea where to place an enemy relative to you because of the game’s terrible audio balance.
In a game where the player is forced to move at a snail’s pace lest the enemy hone in on their location, and solve a thousand puzzles—each where the solution is always more puzzles— removing the one thing that it was doing right, the horror, makes it an abysmal experience. Once again, Remothered: Torment Fathers is an example of a game that was more interested in simply existing on the Switch than actually being well built for the system.
I have no doubt that Remothered: Tormented Fathers is probably a good game on other consoles. However, that is not the reality I got to experience. Unless the game launches with a massive graphic and audio patch, there’s no reason to play this on Switch, not when there’s already a host of optimized horror experiences already on the platform.