Signalis Reviews

Signalis Reviews


need to know

what is it? : A psychological sci-fi survival horror film inspired by Silent Hill.
expecting payment $20/£16
developer rose engine
publisher Games
audit date Windows 11, Nvidia 2080 Ti, Intel i9-9900k @ 4.9ghz, 32GB RAM
multiplayer game? Do not
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Horror is hard to do well, especially when you don’t rely on cheap, reliable scares. That’s why the original Silent Hill trilogy is considered canon, while their many sequels and imitators are largely forgotten. Despite being the debut from small two-person indie studio Rose-Engine, sci-fi horror adventure game Signalis joins the coveted pantheon as one of the best games in the genre and a personal favorite of a crowded year game.

At first glance, Signalis is familiar and accessible to anyone who’s played classic-style survival horror games (down to the PS1-inspired lo-fi graphics). Played from an overhead perspective, there’s a maze of interconnected rooms to explore, lots of locked doors, a mix of logical and more abstract puzzles, and a wide variety of monsters to shoot. Inventory space is at a premium, healing is limited, games can only be saved in safe rooms, and you can store unused items in storage boxes.

(Image credit: Humble Games)

Aesthetically, it also feels like a refinement of those PlayStation gems. The backgrounds are sharp, crisp pixel art, while the characters are smoothly animated 3D models that are always legible despite their relatively small size. The user interface is equally crisp, and despite its retro-tech aesthetic, the map screen is particularly nice, automatically marking any door near you as locked, barred, or open. Audio-wise, it channels some of the best sound in the business, with some very Akira Yamaoka industrial drones accompanied by quieter moments, chaos in combat, panic noises, and all sorts of nostalgic tones, beeps, and trills Accompanied by menu operations.

It’s an old school survival horror game right. Combat is tense and resources are limited, encouraging evasion and ammo hoarding. The puzzles are cleverly designed, and the delay is just long enough to bring about the eureka moment. The only really foreign mechanical component is the radio tuner. Discovered early, it allows you to listen to and decode radio signals. Sometimes it’s just a creepy number station, sometimes it’s a key clue to an item, and sometimes it’s even used in battle. While not redefining the game, it’s there enough to refresh Signalis’ more familiar systems.

Other elements are borrowed more directly from the Resident Evil 1 remake, including an “emergency item” slot for evading melee combat, and a limited supply of incendiaries for burning corpses and permanently clearing frequented halls. While most mechanically similar to Resident Evil, its overall vibe is closer to Silent Hill, about a lone technician droid named Elster who gets caught up in a metaphorical ( Could also be literally) a story from hell.

(Image credit: Humble Games)

While Signalis uses familiar sci-fi horror tropes (including a variety of twisted biomechanical creatures to shoot), this is psychological horror at heart. It’s a character driven and emotional story. After a potentially unreliable narrator, the intentionally fragmented, dreamlike downward spiral – wherever Elster goes, the player is forcibly dragged along, whether they want to or not.

This is the inner psychological fear. It’s a character driven and emotional story.

Too much detail can spoil some surprises, but Signalis avoids sudden, loud scares and instead makes players feel a constant sense of insecurity, from constant resource scarcity to tough narrative curveballs. Enemies can reappear in places that were once cleared, the game’s perspective can suddenly shift from locked overhead to first-person, and plot twists can be serious enough to overturn any previous understanding of what’s going on .

A machine woman with a machine mind

Much of Signalis’ success rests on its world-building.Although most settings are Unbelievable Dozens of diaries, journals, and documents at a cursed mining facility on a distant planet paint a wider, more harrowing picture. Signalis’ universes are alternate dark timelines in which most technology is stagnant at early 90s levels, but strange new science allows for the creation of sentient robots (called Replikas) and interstellar expansion, as well as a largely invisible War between empires, and the dreaded fascist Usan nation.

(Image credit: Humble Games)

The cast struggles under the Eusan banner, and despite the sci-fi setting and the artificiality of many of the characters, their story is haunting. They are ordinary people trying to live normal lives while the cogs of a cruel society threaten to grind them to dust. It would be scary enough without dark secrets lurking in the depths of a distant planet and pseudo-undead robots prowling the halls. With them, it’s a rich, layered dessert of desperation that keeps even the most desperate character’s actions motivated.

If it weren’t for this extra depth, I don’t think Signalis would have stuck to the landing narratively. Instant storytelling is intentionally fragmented. The timeline was uncertain, and while Elster’s goal was always to continue the search deep into the facility, some elements were always ambiguous and required interpretation. It’s in these narrative gaps that the earthy, solid worldbuilding fits in, and replays to find secrets and alternate endings only become more satisfying when revisiting old scenes with additional context.

you are not here

It’s hard to talk about Signalis without mentioning its many inspirations, which it cites openly and eagerly. Familiar touchstones are everywhere, from homages to horror classics like The King in Yellow to parodies of anime heavyweights like Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion. Both famous paintings and haunting classical music place the game’s setting in a familiar setting, while further emphasizing its more surreal elements in the way they’re used. There is enough of the real world here, and the composition is so bizarre that it feels like a dream.

(Image credit: Humble Games)

Even after finishing it twice, my only real gripe with Signalis is that inventory management is a bit too cumbersome. While you can store an endless amount of items in your pantry stash, Elster can only carry six items. 5. Some puzzles require more than one space once you have your frequently used flashlight with you. Leaving healing items and carrying only a gun eases the frustration, but sometimes you’ll be forced to arbitrarily return through hostile corridors to stockpile your gear.

Despite this issue, Signalis is one of the best horror games I’ve played in years. Tense, disturbing and thought-provoking. It takes a hundred familiar elements, inspirations and references and weaves them into something new and immensely valuable.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.