Saturnalia’s small number of colors and jittery animations aren’t like most horror games.
The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was held on the day of the winter solstice, is a symbol of the birth of a new sun. The end of what was. It became the spiritual center of Christmas in the end. When I played the same-named game, I didn’t see any happy elves, bright candles, or gifts that were wrapped in a happy way. Instead, I crawled through a dreamlike maze in a made-up Italian town called Gravois, trying to avoid a scary monster and solve a mystery.
In this way, the upcoming horror adventure game has a bit of a homegrown feel to it since it was made by an independent developer from Italy named Santa Ragione. Saturnalia(opens in a new tab) puts you in the shoes of four survivors, each with their own story. You spend a lot of time walking around Gravoi’s narrow, confusing streets, looking for tools, clues, and other people who can help you figure out what’s going on. All the while, a shadowy creature is after you, and if it catches all of your characters, the town automatically resets, wiping out everything you’ve learned about where things are.
Survival horror game
This destruction of what you think you know is everywhere in the game. The control flashes back and forth to the past, and when you go back, things you thought you knew are different. On more than one occasion, I ran screaming from a monster only to find myself in a place I knew but which had changed.
Even though it seems strange at first, you get used to it. Saturnalia is a carefully made game that draws you in and makes you want to keep going. It was inspired by things like Sardinian architecture, Impressionist art, and old Italian horror movies. Keep digging. And keep looking for a screwdriver.
It’s not perfect. My first big scare in the game didn’t work because the camera angle made it so I couldn’t see the monster. It can be hard to figure out what’s going on with your inventory, and the system for playing as more than one character could use some work. I didn’t understand what it meant to bring more than one character at once, what the phones were for, or how to use Paul’s camera.
Hopefully, by the time it comes out later this year (exclusively on the Epic Store), that stuff will be polished. I’m going to go look for a way to get this monorail to work in the meantime. In this frightening mine, Couldn’t anything go wrong, right? right?
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