Saturnalia review: a truly unique, beautiful, and exquisite horror game

Saturnalia is not a terribly long game, nonetheless it has invested a lot longer occupying my ideas. Any moment before little while that my buddies and peers thought these were speaking with me personally, these were in reality speaking with an ideal Italian neon-folk horror game using my epidermis and seeking out from the eye-holes within my skull. On one or more event we lay during intercourse at 3am, sweaty and frozen in half-asleep fear, because i decided to heard a strange rattling sound…

In reality it absolutely was maybe not stillness, nevertheless the panic-sprint into darkness that became my primary and oft-unsuccessful strategy whenever we heard the creature of Gravoi. Gravoi it self is really a tiny but inconveniently maze-like fictional Sardinian city, host up to a annual people event that, from time to time, involves the unwary being carried down and killed by a… one thing. Unfortuitously, four really unwary outsiders – rendered outsiders for the selection of reasons, whether or not they’re locals or perhaps not – end up needing to endure the evening with this event, armed with such things as matches, firecrackers plus polaroid digital camera.

You control all the four in a collaborative work to obtain the hell from dodge, and will decide to travel alone or in a little team – but more individuals make more sound to alert these rattling creature. We mostly elected to get solo, because i’m a ratfuck coward. Your small Scooby Gang have actually various abilities: Anita includes a map of mines, and will memorise the path to any location in Gravoi that you have discovered; Paul includes a flash digital camera; Claudia can fit through tiny gaps; Sergio includes a satellite phone to necessitate assistance very nearly anywhere (a genuine coup in 1989).

Some hanging masks, each designed with a cloth over their eyes, suspended from an overpass in Saturnalia


As soon as start you need to ahead Saturnalia to 15 buddies, since it is COMPLIMENTARY regarding the Epic Game shop for the very first week. Unless you a little and incredibly SWEARY English woman follows you around SHOVING YOU once you YOU WILL NEED TO BRUSH YOUR SMILE, yelling RANDOM NUMBERS when you’re counting, and over and over calling you an IDIOT for MISSING THIS GAME.

Each, too, has their individual objective so it could be good to quickly attain before they leave. Anita is having an event by having a neighborhood, and want horrible revenge? to square that triangle. Paul ended up being used from city being a kid and desires to check out their delivery moms and dads. Ticking from the things on everybody’s to accomplish list and escaping Gravoi could just take you, ooh, perhaps six hours, based on your propensity towards ratfuck cowardice, while could elect to go out of several things unresolved.

That’s six hours really in game, needless to say, and will not consider time invested e.g. noping back once again to desktop to hear unfortunate acoustic tracks about girls maybe not planning to kiss you and covers of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls to relax. Each time you leave a safe area to move into Gravoi, you are at risk of the strange masked, creeping creature, heralded by way of a terrible shivering rattle – approximately bells plus Rainstick – which comes closer and closer unless you see its silhouette. This is how i’d lose the run of myself and, as opposed to distracting the creature by shoving some firecrackers in a container, or finding someplace to full cover up, would careen down in a random way and acquire lost.

Every foray into Gravoi became a workout in psyching myself up, plus weighing of expense vs. advantage. I actually do quite desire to check out the infirmary into the my own, and i must say i never desire to return to the my own. We became extremely paranoid, convinced that i ought to light as couple of small bonfires around city as you are able to whenever the one thing could see me personally better, and crept around into the darkness at a walking rate. The songs and noise design is great, and each time we heard a home slam or something like that crackle into the undergrowth or a strange hum kicked in regarding the sound recording i acquired a tad bit more on side. You will find also means, without spoiling any such thing, your creature becomes in some way a lot more upsetting the longer you perform. As well as the worst component is the fact that often you are here, all keyed up adrenalinised, as well as the bastard wont arrive! The neurological!

Anita stands in the entrance of the Gravoi mine in Saturnalia

The entry on my own (i did not get yourself a good display of creature, since it moves quite quick and quite often it crawls on all fours, that we discovered profoundly upsetting, therefore I often went away without any respect for illustrating this review, sorry).

Quite usually, because i’d panic, i acquired supported right into a dead end and ended up being caught. Whenever that takes place you are taking control of 1 of other figures, and have now an opportunity to free your pal. However, if all of group get got then, you keep your progress using the tale, the design of Gravoi is shuffled. Saturnalia includes a literal monster, nevertheless the metaphorical one could be the city.

Saturnalia is completely breathtaking to consider. Gravoi is really a number of blocky, Brutalist-ish (many terrifying yet sexiest of most architectural designs) homes in deep shadow, punctuated by bright neons that flare up into the evening, often clashing using the red mist that blooms and recedes just like a tide, or perhaps a heartbeat. Every person and part of Gravoi appears like it absolutely was used pencil, so you would not be astonished in the event that creature went past with Morten Harket over its neck, and it is an ideal base to get unexpected washes of color. The style takes motivation from theater sets and giallo horror films, it isn’t wanting to really be either of these – which means that Saturnalia ultimately ends up experiencing more cinematic and theatrical than games that take to a great deal harder to take action.

The map of Gravoi in Saturnalia

The web of clues and objectives in Saturnalia

Left: a map for a road part; Appropriate: Gravoi’s exceptionally complex muscle of lies

Thereisn’ menu or HUD map, so that you need to use in-game map panels spread through city discover things. Before long you can understand in which your cardinal areas are – the church, the bright blue lights of pharmacy, the terrible altar, the yellowish windows of city hallway. It really is truly disorientating if the city modifications, while no more have feeling of that is the incorrect method to run. Yet often we contemplated intentionally compromising my staying figures, because Anita was indeed taken and she possessed a map of mines…

Gravoi is really a tiny city, but complex. Some areas are not shown regarding the map panels, but are nonetheless vital that you keep in mind, as they are cleverly marked with, state, a particular little bit of graffiti or recogniseable noise. You will need to find tools to start up some areas, mini-puzzles in by themselves. You are able to gather coins to make use of in vending devices, or perhaps you could put them in a wishing well, or place your submit the Mouth Of Truth carving there is for a wall surface – a particularly unsettling part of a casino game filled with unsettling things. The courageous, the substantial my own community operating underneath the entire city can be utilized being a shortcut to a couple various areas. It utilizes the mines too I happened to be not so courageous.

Tecla, an old woman from Gravoi in Saturnalia, lit in pinkish-purple. She is lamenting that she helped bury the town's secrets

Like many tiny towns, Gravoi includes a complex type of social hierarchy, so when you perform in addition discover the way you’re likely to act if you reside in Gravoi. You build-up a complex internet of interlocking clues and occasions by finding letters, old photographs, or diaries kicked under beds, and will pick nexus points in a menu to see which things link together. Fundamentally the thing is how a city is indeed aggressive to outside impact, to improve, to deviation from what’s considered normal, they’ve actually taken ‘better the devil you understand’ to an extreme. The writing succeeds for making all of it strangely poignant; you obtain the feeling that numerous locals are caught. It is not a great spot to check out, while would not desire to live here either.

Saturnalia however? That is an event you intend to have. More we find myself skulking round the sides of bell bend, shopping for uncommon items that provoke uncommon emotions. Saturnalia is certainly one. It is a pulse-raising, shiver-making, dark small whisper; a lovely game. Often small things get only a little incorrect in Saturnalia – discussion triggering at somewhat the incorrect minute – however you will scarcely notice. It is a uncommon game that unsettles you sufficient to prevent playing, but draws you sufficient which you change it back once again on very nearly straight away. A uncommon game that is therefore unapologetically certain, it doesn’t appear to have diluted any section of it self. Rarest of most is really a game that is really unique, and allows you to think “i’ven’t played any such thing similar to this prior to.”

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