Lunacy: Saint Rhodes begins the same way as so many indie horror games do these days: with its protagonist learning of the death of a relative and a property being left to them. And so begins a journey to Saint Rhodes, not only deal with the required paperwork, but also learn more about your family and investigate a horrific murder. It’s just a shame that, more than anything, what will mostly strike fear into your heart is the game’s puzzles.
Played from a first-person perspective, Lunacy: Saint Rhodes is the type of horror game that some would describe as a walking simulator. That is to say that there’s very little in the way of action here. Arriving in Saint Rhodes, you’ll explore a number of properties and the surrounding area, frequently encountering roadblocks. And while some spooky things do occur from time to time, you’re mostly free to take things at your own pace, without fear of anything bad happening to you.
It wouldn’t actually be too bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the roadblocks you encounter in Lunacy: Saint Rhodes are often maddening. Early on in the game, for example, you’ll find your progress seemingly halted by a gate held shut by some wire wrapped around it. You’ll also find a well nearby with a cover held in pace with a piece of wire. Needless to say, you’ll presume you need to find a wire cutter in the area to progress. Only after extensively searching the area – and possibly backtracking a number of times – will you come to realise that there is no wire cutter you can lay your hands on. To progress, you need to find a secret tunnel, hidden away behind a barrel in shed.
It’s moments like this that make Lunacy: Saints Rhodes a drag. It’s fun solving the game’s puzzles that actually require you to investigate and think, and there’s a great sense of atmosphere, too, but any goodwill is quickly lost when the game expects you to find a needle in a haystack. Is it fun fumbling around a house in the dark, opening every cabinet and drawer in the hopes of locating a jewelry box key? Not really. And it’s even worse when there’s the niggling feeling in the back of your mind that it might not even be what you need at that moment to progress.
If you have a great deal of patience and enjoy slow-burn horror experiences, then Lunacy: Saints Rhodes might be worth a go. Its price is certainly reasonable. It’s just a shame that much of your time spent playing it will likely involve scouring the same areas time and time again in the hopes of finding the item you need. Or don’t need, even, as it turns out. In this case, a little more hand-holding would perhaps be welcome.
Lunacy: Saint Rhodes is available now on PC.