Published by Ultimate Games, Theatre of Sorrows is a visual novel roguelike with a focus on player choice. With many endings, a deep crafting system, and nicely drawn comic book style art panels, there is a lot to chew if you are into text heavy narratives.
The story is the emphasis in this $10 digital downloadable title and it is rather strange. You play as a twin on a quest to find your missing sibling that was taken by an island dwelling cult. For a game built around a text-based narrative, there is plenty of atmosphere. The Lovecraftian theme is dark and full of miserable things but this should not be confused with jump scares or twisted ideals like in something like Silent Hill. Presented with one unfortunate circumstance after another, it is a rather depressing outing.
The entire experience is menu driven and was originally skeptical of this gameplay decision but wound up enjoying it much more than I thought I would. From an overhead map, the player is free to venture to any adjacent tile to explore that destination or simply move on to the next. Each spot on the map can optionally be explored and sometimes items, a monster, or plot forwarding scene can be found. However, exploring the map drains the wellbeing of the protagonist so items will need to be used in order to continue. Let these meters drain and it is game over.
Exploring each icon usually rewards the player with something, like an item to help stave off hunger or materials that can be used to craft a new item. If the right materials are joined, they can create more potent items, outfits, or talismans. It might sound a little tedious on paper and is the action will you do the most but luckily can be rewarding. There is a slight annoyance by not being able to pick up all items with a single button but I guess that wouldn’t play nice with the purposely designed limited inventory system. Since this this a rogue, everything moves with each attempt and sometimes there isn’t a necessarily right or wrong answer.
The variety and visual quality of each panel gives this game its identity. If this wasn’t here with this amount of detail, the player wouldn’t feel the same dark atmosphere. Like the gameplay experience, the visual presentation is higher than expected.
Theatre of Sorrow is a different type of game that isn’t for everyone. It might lack action but compensates with a detailed narrative, as goofy as it might be. The amount of text might be off putting for some but this is a more enjoyable visual narrative-style experience thanks to the rogue mechanics and crafting system.
Also Try: Curious Expedition 2
Not As Epic As: The Banner Saga trilogy
Wait For It: Sword Breaker 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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