Signalis is an excellent horror survival game, inspired by Resident Evil and Silet Hill, plus movies like Moon. It’s a game that will extract emotion from you in the best way, and today I’m going to run through all the reasons you should play it.
In Signalis you play as an android called Elster. You wake up in a run-down facility and quickly find out all the other androids have been killed, plus some of their corpes are reaminating and trying to attack you. It’s a game about isloation, with a pinch of Alice through the looking glass, occasionally crawling through holes into the ground to reveal new playspaces. This is survival horror with a pixel art look and feel from a semi top-down view.
It’s your job to search for clues, meaning you have to open drawers, read posters, and gather scraps of paper and photographs to piece together the puzzles. You can also pick up weapons, which are going to be useful in taking on the reanimated killer androids. Signalis has a Sega Saturn or PlayStation vibe going on with it’s graphics. While it’s not going to compete with the likes of Calistro Protocol in the graphics department, it certainly will compete when it comes to horror. This isn’t in your face jump scare horror (although there are a few moments), this is a slow build, constant tension kind of horor.
The environment design is expertly done here evn behind the minimal pixel artwork. The use of lighting and shadows reinforce the horror, keeping you on your toes as you slowly walk from room to room. Survelance cameras follow you as you walk into a room, making you wonder if they are automated, or if someone is watching. The evironment is as much a character as the one you control, and it doesn’t like you, and doesn’t want you there.
There is a real retro theme to the game, first acheived through the graphics, but also the equipment in the game. There are video tapes lying around the place, plus the weapons look like old school revolvers. Early on your get a radio, which can be tuned to various frequencies to receive messages. It feels like a sci-fi movie that was crafted in the 70s or 80s, similar to the future that Ridley Scott created in the original Alien movie.
The audio is equally good at reinforcing the sense of tension as the graphics. The clicking and whirring of a broken down facility. There’s a score done by 1000 Eyes & Cicada Sirens by there’s also classical music in here too, including Tchaikovsky and a particularly terrifying version of Swan Lake. It fits the moment beautifully, as does all of the music and sound work in the game.
Signalis is all about the slow build. The feeling of dread and impending doom, quick cuts and flashes of memory. There are large parts of the game where you’ll be wandering around, gathering resources and clues, trying to find the solution to puzzles. You’ll be trying to find a key for locked doors, or a passcode for a keypad. That sense of fear never really leaves you, always being reinforced by the environment or the music. As with other survival horror games you’ll need to keep a close eye on ammunition, don’t be wasteful when it comes to enemies, because it’s a rare currency you won’t want to waste and it could mean the difference between life and death. Enemies seem to come back to life randomly, one minute you’ll be walking by with a seemingly dead robot at your feet, next minute they’ll be up and coming at you. Be careful, and be afraid.
Signalis does a good job of keeping you on your toes at all times, not only through the gameplay, but with the cutscenes too. You’ll be walking along, and all of a sudden a flashback will occur. These dream-like sequences tend to blend into real-life and it’s hard to tell the difference between what is real and what is a dream. There’s another layer to Signalis which keeps you searching for the truth, and keeps you coming back for more time and time again. It’s almost like your on an acid trip, trying to keep a grip on reality, but things are no longer in your control and you’re slipping away.
Overall, Signalis is an excellent survival horror game. At first it may seem simple, puzzles to solve and leads to follow, but I’d recommend sticking with it until the end. This is about facing your fears and standing up for yourself in the face of terror. There’s a decent buzz about this game, and for good reason. I definitely recommend you give it a try.
Developer: Rose-engine games
Publisher: Humble Bundle, Humble Games, Playism
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PC
Release Date: 27 October