Theatre of Sorrows from Cat-astrophe Games and Ultimate Games is a game with a cosmic horror narrative focus and a dash of a choose your own adventure vibe. Check our Theatre of Sorrows review!
Theatre of Sorrows from Cat-astrophe Games and Ultimate Games is a game with a cosmic horror narrative focus with a choose your own adventure vibe. It’s the story of twins Killian and Eileen. They were born on February 2nd, and from an early age, they were inseparable. Unfortunately, they caused the death of their mother when born, and their father disappeared. Growing up as orphans, Eileen and Killian learned to understand that in life, they could only really rely on each other.
All was well, until one autumn day… when Eileen went missing after turning 21 years of age. A week later, a letter arrived. Upon opening it, Killian learned that Gof’nn, a group of occult-loving heretics and madmen, had kidnapped Eileen! If he wanted her to live, he had to do as they said. With no other choice, he takes a ferry to the island of Esha to try and find Eileen before it’s too late. After checking in at a hotel in a small town, his journey beings.
Theatre of Sorrows offers a procedurally generated adventure, so every time you start your adventure in Esha, only one constant will remain: the people of the island really, really dislike you. Other than that, the map you’ll explore will be different, the order in which you take on events will be different, and you will need to adjust accordingly. To survive, you’ll have to take on some resource management so that you can make every bit count. You’ll have your sanity, your health, and your stamina to apply as needed to each situation you run into.
You’ll have to explore the locations you uncover on the island of Esha so that you can complete quests and locate the required items. These will be added to your inventory and will be split into consumables, crafting materials, and talismans. Consumables can be used to replenish your sanity, health, and stamina as needed. Crafting materials can be used to craft talismans. As for talismans, they’re special objects that can be activated for a variety of additional effects, so be sure to experiment with them!
You can access your inventory with the X button. From there, you can press the – button to review any status effects on your character, review the ritual map – more on this in a bit -, check the talismans you can craft by sacrificing resources and your health to complete the recipes you find as you progress through the game, and check any outfits in your bag. You can find several outfits hidden around Esha. They will not only change your character’s appearance, but they will also influence the gameplay, so search everywhere! Killian starts with a plain shirt that has one talisman slot and ten items slots, as well as no passive effects.
Each location you visit might have an indoors and an outdoors, and you can go in by pressing the A button and return outside with the B button. Once you’re outside, pressing the B button once again will allow you to open up the map, from which you can travel to new locations. To get a better view of things, you can zoom in and out of the map with the L and R buttons. As a heads-up, locations marked with an exclamation point are the main story locations you need to visit in order to move the story forward. Searching within a location will cost some of your sanity, but you could end up finding a useful item to complete a recipe or have bad luck and find a monster lurking in the shadows.
The game dives into horror territory with a variety of monsters inspired by Lovecraftian horrors, and you must choose your actions wisely in order to survive each battle. You’ll need to pay attention to what each monster can do so that you can work on making the most of their weaknesses as you craft and equip talismans that can help you. Sure, you could use your stamina to try and outrun the monster, but this won’t defeat the fiend. You can use some of the spells you’ve learned to fend off a foe while also spending some valuable sanity, or you could sacrifice a random talisman if you have some on you. Depending on your performance during battles, the objectives you collect, and what random elements you’ve been presented with for your run, there will be different endings to reach, some of which are not as pleasant as the others. Can you each all five endings?
Theatre of Sorrows from Cat-astrophe Games and Ultimate Games is certainly a dark game, with an art style and story to match. It has some roguelite elements in randomly generated adventures where your actions – which will deplete your sanity, health, and stamina as you go – will have consequences, leading you to one of the endings it has to offer. It’s not going to be for everyone since it’s a bit slow to play, feeling closer to a visual novel adventure with roguelite elements. Theatre of Sorrows is out on Nintendo Switch with a $9.99 asking price.
This Theatre of Sorrows review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy with a Cat-astrophe Games.