Created by indie developer We Create Stuff (aptly named), In Sound Mind is, from the outset, an underrated gem. The experience produced is well worth the current price point, but there are some issues that need to be addressed; well, one perhaps. The game provides a symphony of cohesive ideas, the story is intriguing and fed through to the player in bite-sized pieces; the puzzles are well thought out and often force the player to think outside the box. There is so much good to be had here, and I like the pun-y title.
Let’s address the title, shall we? It didn’t quite land with me, not until I was about halfway through the game. You see, the game’s plot revolves around Desmond, a psychologist who delves into the tape recordings of four of his patients—eventually entering their psyche. These patients are suffering mental anguish and, in some cases, are dying. These taped session recordings manifest into different levels to explore, each with its own unique weapon and corresponding unique mechanic. For example (and I don’t want to give too much away), Desmond deals with the fear of darkness or shade faced by one of his patients. Within the tape, he uses a flare gun and a torch to combat this fear by using the light of the flare gun to dissipate the darkness. These mechanics, all different and picked up in each level, help the player to progress through the plot mechanically by clearing pathways towards progression, but also communicate the fears battled by each patient—using, in this example, juxtaposition between light and dark.
Okay, so once I understood that the levels were based off each tape recording—and the tape recording held the contents of each patient’s psyche—the title clicked, and I appreciated how clever it was. Going into the game blind made it more so a pleasure to play. There were no times where the puzzles became so frustrating to figure out that it dissuaded me to play the game. Some puzzles took a little more cognition, but I was always able to get there in the end.
The music—the music was awesome. During boss fights or tense moments (notably, while versing “The Bull”), the music picked up and in came the metal guitar riffs and electric music. It was very reminiscent of some of the music in the Doom franchise. There are also records to collect within the game, full of original music. All music is original and comes from band The Living Tombstone—it lends itself to the games atmosphere and is an appreciated addition.
The only issue that I had with the game was the lack of optimisation. I was playing on the PS5, using a PS4 copy. I had checked online, and it seems that most people experienced the same framerate issues as I did. In some levels it was worse than others, but it first became noticeable while I was playing through Tape 2. The particle effects of the smoke, haze, barrels exploding—it was all too much for the game to handle. I found the game would frequently drop below 30fps. It was, by no means, a deterrent to play completely. The experience would be more enjoyable if this was not an issue.
Folks who are a fan of horror or thriller-style puzzle games (think Resident Evil, Amnesia: The Dark Descent) would surely enjoy In Sound Mind. My playthrough took about twenty hours at a relaxed pace, giving me enough time to get the platinum trophy on PlayStation. I highly recommend In Sound Mind, but even more so when the developers’ patch in more optimisations. The game has solid gameplay, an intriguing narrative, environmental storytelling, and a cat named Tonia—what more could you want?