If there’s ever been a game to make you long for the heyday of point and click games like Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, this is it.
Describing itself as a “psychological horror detective game”, Saint Kotar puts you in the shoes of Benedek and Nikolay. They’ve been dragged to the strange village of Sveti Kotar by Viktoria – Benedek’s sister and Nikolay’s wife. Falling asleep quickly after arriving at their rented cottage late into the evening, Viktoria is nowhere to be seen when the two men wake the next morning. What is to be seen, though, is some uncomfortable imagery dotted around the house. And for us, the player, ugly visuals and a whole lot of jank.
Saint Kotar wastes no time in throwing you into the thick of it. Before we’re even properly introduced to the characters, we’re privy to a long-winded rant about bizarre dreams and cursed portraits. You’ll soon learn that the two men are men of god, but Benedek believes that his sister Viktoria has been struck down by a family curse that has turned her away from god’s light and, presumably, forced her to dabble in some dark stuff.
All that is to say that Saint Kotar‘s story revolves around religious and occultist themes. You’ll be bombarded with names of gods and heathens that you’ll never remember, and a convoluted story about devil worship that, for the most part, will make your eyes glaze over. There’s some neat, grizzly imagery here for fans of the macabre – bloody murders and the like – but it’s hard to ever really settle into the dark atmosphere that Saint Kotar tries to create because nothing else is really likely to grab you.
This is a very ugly-looking game to begin with. Walking around environments isn’t fun when everything is so dull. Poor textures also mean it’s hard to work out what anything is, even when you’re playing on a huge 65-inch TV screen. And unlike modern point and click games, you can’t simply walk up to an object to interact with it: you’ll need to use your d-pad to cycle through all interactible points then select the one you want.
The animations are also very poor, with your characters often floating around their environment rather than walking. Their default movement speed is painfully slow, and you’ll quickly get tired of waiting for them to cross from one side of the screen to the other to interact with a new object. While the game’s dialogue is fully-voiced, you’ll often wish it wasn’t: it’s simply awful, with accents all over the place and some characters in particular making you wonder if they’re real voices or AI-generated.
Had Saint Kotar‘s developer, Red Martyr Entertainment, spent a bit more time on the game’s presentation, we might be more likely to recommend it. After all, the story may be convoluted and hard to follow, but there are snippets of something interesting, and you may find it worth sticking around for. But everything, from the menus to the controls, screams low budget, and it makes Saint Kotar a very difficult game to enjoy.
It’s clear that Saint Kotar has tried to draw inspiration from the likes of Broken Sword. From the way its exploration works to its dark themes and eerie environments, it really wants to be a point and click game worthy of cult status. That’s highly unlikely to ever happen, though. While interesting at times, its story is too poorly told to ever be truly enjoyable. And the ugly visuals, awful voice acting and budget interface mean most players are not likely to stick around.