Welcome to my first ever PC review, kids! Today we’re looking at Pyxton Studios’s debut, the brand-new first-person horror title Deluded Mind. Since there are more PC configurations than stars in the known universe, here are my specs.
Chassis: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Series (7567) w/ 15.6″ 1920×1080 LED display
Processor: 7th Generation Intel Quad Core i7-7700HQ
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti w/ 4gb GDDR5
RAM: 16gb, DDR4, 2400MHz
Hard Drive: 1TB 5400 rpm + 128gb SSD
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
So, Deluded Mind is a bit harder to describe than a lot of the other horror titles I’ve played. There are clear influences from P.T. in here, but you’ll also find some Layers of Fear and even a little Eternal Darkness. You play as Dean Catrall, an FBI agent who awakens in Hillstone Asylum, a run-down psychiatric hospital full of clues to gather, documents to read and puzzles to solve. A criminal organization Dean was investigating has murdered his daughter as revenge, kidnapped Dean and stuck him in Hillstone under the influence of a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Because of this, reality and nightmare blend together and Dean spends much of the game trapped in rooms whose walls and doors change behind him, corridors that loop endlessly and imagined perversions of his own home.
First, the game looks great – mostly. The textures are high-resolution and the world is populated with furniture and debris and other things that help it feel lived-in and alive. Creepy things scuttle around corners and out of view the moment you see them, computer monitors display (or lose) spooky images in a heartbeat, etc. Now, I had two problems with the visuals. One problem (or both?) was with the lighting. When I started the game, I could clearly see everything I was meant to see, so I assumed my gamma was set correctly (and I haven’t had any problems with it in other dark/horror games), but some small sections of hallways or alcoves were absolutely pitch black. It was probably intentional (look at the pictures I’m using from their press kit) but even doubling the gamma in the options menu didn’t fix it. The second problem is probably related: In my first hour of play, I encountered two scenarios in which Dean just had to wait or walk in the pitch blackness for several minutes on end with no clues to guide him. After five minutes of walking, running, turning around in circles and looking up and down, at one point I turned around again and suddenly a well-lit hallway awaited me. I don’t know if there was a path to follow hidden by the gamma or if this was an intentional trick by the developer to mess with my head, but I wasn’t crazy about it.
Darkness aside, the title looks awesome. Another high point of the game is the audio. Deluded Mind sounds spectacular on my Beats Solo HD headphones. Footsteps approach you in the dark from who knows where, spectral children laugh at you and environmental stabs will make your heart leap into your throat. I regularly felt immersed in the game while playing thanks to the sound effects and music. The voice acting was uh, not up my alley, but that could be a personal preference.
Another bit of praise I need to lavish on this title is its puzzles. In puzzle games I admit that I get stuck occasionally and need to Google a hint or, many years ago, buy the strategy guide (I’m looking at you, Riven marble map!), but I’m relatively patient and can usually get by. The balance of brain teasing and catharsis in Deluded Mind is definitely on point. Some things I figured out immediately; others I solved with the last idea I could come up with. You know that feeling you get when the engine turns over in your brain? Something dynamic happens mid-puzzle and suddenly you say “Ohhhhhhhhh, ok ok ok ok ok, I got it, I got it…” I was pleased to have several of those moments while playing.
And despite that I didn’t notice one of the game’s elements myself, I’d regret not mentioning it. According to Pyxton Studios, the game tricks Dean for getting stuck. From their website: The longer you need to solve a puzzle or solve it incorrectly, the harder the hallucinogen will punish you. This mechanic definitely reminds me of the Sanity Meter in Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for GameCube – although you’d require multiple playthroughs in order to compare experiences (and Deluded Mind is procedurally generated), I liked knowing that Hillstone Asylum was tinkering with me and Dean as we made our way through its Hellish twists and turns.
Pyxton Studios is definitely on my watchlist now. I’ll play more titles from them and I really enjoyed the majority of my time with Deluded Mind. The most frustrating part of it is that what it gets right, it really gets right…but what it gets wrong, it really gets wrong. The “rummaging around in the dark” sequences (seriously – this game is dark) and the occasionally awkward voice acting or writing (“If you’re hearing this message, we have succeeded in relaying this message”) stand out all the more when standing in contrast against the game’s triumphant elements. Priced right at $12.99 USD, Deluded Mind is definitely worth checking out but its hard-to-ignore flaws make it fall short of greatness. I’m giving this title a 7 out of 10.
AIR Entertainment was provided a free review copy of Deluded Mind by developer/publisher Pyxton Studios.