Saturnalia | Step into the Dark | PS5 Review

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Publisher: Santa Ragione
Developer: Santa Ragione
PS5 Review

*Disclaimer: I was sent the code for this game in return for a review, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

I'm a little late with this review, life just got a bit hectic but here we are! Halloween has been and gone but who is to say the spookiness needs to stop? No one that's for sure! Some of you may recognise the name of this game Saturnalia due to it being an ancient Roman holiday/festival in honor of the god Saturn which takes place in December, I had never heard of it until now but the history and folklore behind it is very interesting so i recommend reading up on it! Saturnalia was developed and published by Santa Ragione who have developed a vast array of different genre games, this being the first one I have experienced. So what is it about? 

Saturnalia is a horror, puzzle and exploration game set in the late 80's rather than your usual gaming experience it's sketched out and drawn in a picturess way pulling us into a spooky story from different points of view. The first character you get to play as is a young woman named Anita (my favourite to play as), she is pregnant, for the year she has had the task of assessing the mines below the town for a feature buyer. She has found herself pregnant by a well respected married man. Sergio is a drug addict, so please if this is a trigger don't play this game. He has returned to the village after a split from a lover who he clearly cared for deeply. The third character is Paul, he also left years ago and has come back to the village after many years, he was an orphan but has turned his life around becoming a photojournalist. Claudia is the last, she resides in the village and is aware of what's been going on around her but chose to ignore it all until now. Players are thrown right into the action, guide Anita to her first destination before darkness falls upon the village. 

The music cast very eerie setting the tone for what was going to happen, I constantly had a uneasy feeling throughout my gameplay, not because of the dark but because I knew something was watching and waiting for me to make a mistake, each mistake cost the life of not one but 4 lives and that kind of responsibility weighs heavy on players. Even with this pressure I felt as if I needed to push on and find out where the story was going to take me. An interesting part of the game is the ability to swap between characters as well as team up with them, once one of them dies you can switch to another the whole map changes which forces you to try and workout the new layout, it's very thought provoking and cleverly done, it feels almost like the game wants to outwit you but persevere and you will might be able to find the answers you're looking for.

It took me a little while to get my head around how the mission map was laid out as collecting new evidence would open up another branch to a different quest making me get in a tizz, having 4 different characters to play as and working out where to go next was a task and a half, I would often follow one line of clues and find out I needed to bring a certain character with me making me run back to where they were wasting precious time. The main aspects which I forced myself to remember were hiding places, they are important to your survival especially if you don't want the layout to change and you feel like you're getting somewhere,  when you have someone following you and you hide and reappear they usually have disappeared and finding them is an easy way to get yourself killed. My first experience hiding was in the Church, an odd mist started to fill the air and something was coming after me. I started to panic and found the perfect hiding place then got out of there as fast as I could. The townhouse where my characters were situated weren't too far away so I went back there to gather my thoughts and work out my next move.

Collecting items, information whilst using your memory is vital for you to find your way through the labyrinth village. Night time is the worst time, you're left vulnerable and at risk so it's important to have matches on you to light fires in order to stay in the light. Tools are a valuable resource, breaking into buildings and using them to your advantage is a big help in avoiding wasting time, look at everything in areas you find yourself in, not once not times but check 3 times. I always end up missing something because I get careless in horror games and panic. Don't forget to take advantage of being able to team up with another character they can help you out of a sticky situation if you're not sure where to go, they could be the key to life and death in that situation, you may also find out that they have a special ability which could come in handy.

One huge thumbs up from me are the accessibility settings within the game, I'm not on about the use of infinite matches, sure that's a big help I'm talking about settings such as dyslexia friendly font, QTE settings changing controller buttons to best suit the players needs and even 3 different play modes that help players experience the game differently whilst also aiding their needs. It's not hard to implement these settings and they're there for when a player needs them. This game is more than just a horror it's a glimpse into different scenarios along with cause and effect, your actions can take you down a road of discovery or the worst possible road to death. I started to favour certain characters but the game is about teamwork making my liking for one irrelevant. Developers have managed to pull together a game that is not only caters to more gamers but also has a vast variety of tasks to keep us busy, trophy hunters, horror lovers and puzzle gamers will find Saturalia an enjoyable/challenging experience.


Any hate will not be published.