Coming to Epic Games Store later this year, Saturnalia might be one of the most interesting games we’ve previewed in a long while.
Best described as a single-player horror roguelike, Saturnalia can’t really be boiled down to the genre it fits into. Unique in both its gameplay and its art direction, it’s well rooted in traditional horror yet still doing something very different. We’ve only scratched the surface of what Saturnalia has to offer – we didn’t want to let ourselves get too engrossed until the final, full release is upon us – but it’s safe to say that this creepy, atmospheric adventure already has its claws in us.
The setting of the game, the Italian town of Gravoi, feels as alive as any one of Saturnalia‘s four main characters. And it should, really. Its maze-like streets are designed to confuse and obfuscate the player – hindered even more so by the fact that, should you die (or else get caught by the mysterious yet terrifying entity that stalks Gravoi at night), those streets are shuffled, creating a brand new layout every time. Just when you think you’ve got to grips where its key locations are – the villa, the church, the mine – bam: it all gets mixed up.
Not all is lost, though. Paying attention to maps is important and gives you the opportunity to memorise routes if needs be. Memorise the route you need to take, and pressing the ‘B’ button on you controller will orientate you in the right direction. It’s still up to you to find your way though. And lit only by matchlight in the dark of night, navigating Gavoi’s labyrinth is easier said than done.
There’s much more to Saturnalia than getting from A to B, of course. There’s a narrative to follow, interesting characters to get to know, and plenty of objectives to complete. The story, rooted in Italian folklore and heavily inspired by Giallo horror films, revolves around an annual winter solstice ritual. Each character has their own objectives to complete, with their own personal demons to battle along the way. You’ll get the opportunity to play as all of them, with their journeys overlapping and helping each other out along the way.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Saturnalia, though, is its art style. A hybrid of traditional pencil sketches infused with rotoscope animation, every scene of the game is a piece of art in itself. It goes a long way into adding to the game’s tension – of which it has in droves – particularly thanks to the strong use of monochrome and shadow.
We can’t wait to see what else Saturnalia has to offer as it certainly has us intrigued after just a very short time with it. The characters, the story, the maze-like exploration, and the creature that stalks us in the darkness – it all adds up to paint a complete picture that could well be something truly special. If you’re a fan of horror games, Saturnalia is one to watch.
Saturnalia is set to launch on PC via Epic Games Store ‘soon’.