Need to know
What Is It?: Psychological sci-fi survival horror inspired by Silent Hill.
Expect To Pay $20/£16
Developer Rose Engine
Publisher Humble Games
Reviewed On Windows 11, Nvidia 2080 Ti, Intel i9-9900k @ 4.9ghz, 32gb RAM
Link Official site (opens in new tab)
Horror is hard to do right, especially when not relying on cheap, reliable jump-scares. It’s why the original Silent Hill trilogy are regarded as classics, while their many sequels and imitators are largely forgotten. Despite being the debut release from tiny two-person indie studio Rose-Engine, sci-fi horror adventure Signalis joins that coveted pantheon as one of the best in the genre, and a personal favorite from a jam-packed year.
At a glance, Signalis is familiar and accessible (right down to the low-fi PS1-inspired graphics) to anyone who has played a classic-style survival horror game. Played from an overhead perspective, there’s a labyrinth of interconnected rooms to explore, many locked doors, a mixture of logical and more abstract puzzles and an assortment of monsters to shoot. Inventory space is at a premium, healing is finite, and the game can only be saved at safe-rooms where you can stash unused items in a storage chest.
(Image credit: Humble Games)
Even after completing it twice, the only real complaint I can level at Signalis is that inventory management is a little too fiddly. While you can store endless amounts in your save-room stash, Elster can only carry six items. Five, once you’re carrying around the frequently-used flashlight, and some puzzles require multiple spaces free. Leaving healing items behind and only carrying one gun can mitigate frustrations, but there will be times where you’re arbitrarily forced to backtrack through hostile hallways to store gear.
Despite this one persistent wrinkle, Signalis is one of the best horror games I’ve played in years. Tense, upsetting and thought-provoking. It takes a hundred familiar elements, inspirations and references and weaves them into something entirely new, and thoroughly worthwhile.