Signal is | Review – When terror is within us

Who I am
Judit Llordés
Author and references

The eyes widen with difficulty, the hands tremble, the voice is broken by a stifled and frightened cry, while terror hovers everywhere, imperturbable and cruel. Signalis, on the other hand, does not present itself as The Callisto Protocol, nor does it try to emulate other productions of the genre. It is the past and the present that bind together to create something new, unique and numbing. How does terror affect weak minds? How does it manifest itself? Why is he so cruel, violent and ruthless? And why do they still existin the horror scene, productions that succeed in the complex attempt to convey anxiety and anguish to the point of leaving you speechless?

I often wonder, partly out of curiosity and partly because discovering videogames is my greatest passion, how much there is actually still to be excavated in a panorama which, until a few years ago, everyone thought he was saturated and now completely at the mercy of himself, devastated by too many video games similar to each other. What happens, however, when it is precisely the past that offers new interpretations and provides new stimuli for creating something original?

When I approached Signalis, I didn't know exactly what I was going to find. Once started, an agonizing music greeted me, and then I slipped into a vortex of terror from which I didn't intend to escape at all, because there was something that attracted me inside that deserved to be investigated properly. As I moved through those dark areas, exploring a sinister and frightening context, I was sure that I wouldn't be leaving those places anytime soon. I didn't do it with Scorn, I didn't do it with Resident Evil and it didn't happen on other occasions either, when Amnesia and Outlast terrorized me, infiltrating my psyche, ruining my sleep, but it wasn't their fault. With horror films, and I admit it without hesitation, I've always been quite impressionable, accomplice that kind of overwhelming fear that knew how to creep.

Signalis is a video game that, without beating about the bush, gets under your skin. It is part of that great and immense world of productions capable of leaving an indelible mark, never resulting in too much. And that's not something everyone can do. Rose-engine, remaining faithful to his ideas, is a team that has managed to find the most suitable interpretation, inevitably transmitting that sense of bewilderment typical of productions of this caliber. It is an independent video game, but this is not news: it is actually wiser to reflect on how certain productions manage to be talked about, how they are known and shared by other players. Signalis, and it's not a mystery, is that video game that winks persuasively to the golden age of the genre, but looking at what's next, uncovering inevitable suggestions and references that are always so pleasing.

This already, after all, should make it clear about the goodness of the work that you may find yourself in front of, if you decide to download it. Better to know first, though: it's dangerous out there. Silence can be broken at any moment, and that sense of loss I was talking about before, clearly inevitable, is precisely the key on which rose-engine has built its video game. It is fear, panic and death; it is madness, dismay and anguish. And there's blood everywhere, but a lot of blood. In profusion.

Signalis' tale is steeped in death

It could be complex to talk about the story, considering the narrative nature of the work of the duo that composes rose-engine and the risk of making clumsy spoilers. However, I can assure you that Signalis offers an excellent, intelligent and multifaceted narrative, strong in enveloping and unique branches, some of which are intelligent and characteristic. In the adventure you play Elster, a Replika, an expert in cutting-edge technologies in search of the campaign for her life, lost on a cold and dark planet where something irreparable and brutal has happened. The protagonist, awakening from her cryogenic sleep, finds herself lost, lost and with a promise to keep. Something has happened around her that she doesn't initially understand. However, having read the documents and discovered what is really behind the events on the planet where she happened to be, in an alternative but still lethal Galaxy, she understands that the events are far more frightening than she expected. She begins her journey breathing the tasteless air of a world that no longer has anything beautiful about it: there is a snow cover that covers layers of steel and hides a turbulent past.

The prologue is quite eloquent and wastes no time in presenting the work, giving it a right and at the same time unexpected measure, configuring itself in a peculiar way, introducing a fascinating context. As I continued inside it, discovering facets of an incredible and exhilarating story, I understood that in Signalis nothing happens by chance. And whatever happened before the awakening of Elster, a protagonist with an irresistible charm, is tremendous in any case. Continuing the experience and understanding the branches of a fascinating story, I had the feeling that everything had happened by chance, that everything was configured precisely to lead me to experience a situation of this kind and that of the past, at this point, there is nothing left.

Thanks to a strong and exciting writing, capable of both carefully describing the nuances of the production and presenting it in the right way, Signalis represents a work that takes its time before being discovered, while throwing the player right in the middle of the action without too many compliments. In fact, this is precisely its natural strong point, which convinces thanks to a unique and simply original approach to the context, digging into the past of the genre to propose a story that unfolds from different angles, with different endings that could leave the player dumbfounded and surprised. On the other hand, it's all a question of quality: if a work of this kind reaches its goal and surprises, it means that it is going in the right direction, inevitably presenting a detailed way of presenting itself to the public. And there was really a need for this at a time like this, or a horror story that knew how to convey the right themes in the right way, with passion and, above all, through an already tested game system.

What takes place in the story is extreme, chilling and brutal, violent and perverse, and it's all thanks to an atmosphere that, while looking to the past, reaches the goal with simplicity and awareness of one's means. The merit is above all of a careful work by the development studio towards some video games of the past such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil, two of the works from which Signalis takes its game structure in detail. But that's not all, because the work extends and amalgamates in a unique and original way, succeeding in the complex attempt to envelop the player with its plot and its themes in a careful and exciting way.

A well packaged play structure

While taking inspiration from the names I mentioned above, Signalis is nonetheless a work that puts suggestions and features detailed and intelligently constructed on the plate. In fact, it is complex to be able to maintain such a style. The isometric view, which allows you to move the protagonist through the various areas of the game, represents a correct and spot-on implementation, in line with the nostalgic style of the production.

In this regard, the work meets more souls, binding them to each other in a careful and intelligent way. The latter is a term that, advancing in experience, I have often used, especially during puzzle solving and exploration. Never complex or intricate, I often found myself having to look for clues for the various areas of the school, sometimes accessing rooms full of secrets to reveal. There were documents scattered everywhere, about solving a puzzle, and sometimes I had to use the radio to synchronize the waves in order to capture the numbers I needed to unlock a safe containing a magnetic card, useful for continuing on to the next area. Initially, I admit that it was not immediate to get used to the pace of the game, however held up by an excellent game design. Thanks to the variety of puzzles, which are really many, the resolution becomes pleasant and fun, and on some occasions I had to spend several minutes before figuring out how to move. To give you an example, during the experience I had to replicate a magnetic card, referencing a video on a screen where I could change the various sequences.

When I speak of variety, I mean precisely this: proposing puzzles that are not immediately accessible but pleasant to solve, and it is by no means a foregone conclusion, considering the commendable quality of the production and its characteristic and always punctual strengths. The experience, never losing its bite, entertains especially thanks to the exploration, which does not weigh down the pace of the game but refines it, giving the constant feeling that something could happen at any moment. Another strong point of the production is then the level design, treated with maniacal attention, and a separate discussion could be made, because it is essential and well implementedentered with awareness. On various occasions, getting lost in the corridors and rooms I have visited, aI had a constant feeling that something bad was going to happen at any moment.

Initially armed with a pistol, I killed anyone who came across me. And no, they are not men, but sentient creatures similar to human beings, but obviously different in everything. I understood this as I continued within the experience, living the proverbial encounter of the fourth kind that I don't wish on anyone with the local creatures. And despite a somewhat approximate shooting system, I still managed to make my way through this place, using violence as the only real alternative to running away (which can be done, but better to clean up first). As you progress, you will unlock other weapons, some of which are very useful for sorting out the beasts once and for all. Some, however, will not die instantly and it will be necessary to stomp them hard, preventing them from getting up. The best choice, especially in the first hours of the game, is to keep ammunition under control and use it intelligently, thus avoiding running out. It is unfortunately inevitable, given the very nature of production, and here exploration comes into play, always punctual and superfine.

However, returning to the shooting system, which I have sometimes found inaccurate, there is the possibility of dealing a lethal blow to the enemy based on the selected body part. Aiming for the head, of course, is the best way to get rid of it without too many complications, even if it takes longer and it is necessary to put yourself in the conditions to deliver the fatal blow. It takes intelligence, preparation and a lot of precision, even if moving the analog stick could be uncomfortable. In this sense, the possibility of changing its sensitivity during movements in excited moments is missing in the options menu.

A work of unmistakable character

Signalis, arriving on the market and on Xbox GamePass, it is a strong and intelligent production, as well as capable of enhancing an absolutely well-implemented and characteristic game design. The pixel art used for the occasion, in fact, is among the best I've ever seen. If notable results were achieved with Prodeus, in the same way the work of rose-engine proposes it with modernity, putting a considerable emphasis on the already excellent characteristics of a production that tells and entertains in a unique way. I have nothing to complain about on the technical side, which is only to be commended, because it is well cared for and has well condensed and never long loading times, throwing the player right in the middle of the action.

  • There is fear, in Signalis. So much fear and dismay. There is death, unfolding everywhere and imperceptibly. There is a silence broken by Elster's steps, who finds himself in a bedlam in which she must survive to find her beloved, and there is an intriguing, unique and multifaceted context. It is said that the past cannot be escaped, and it is the truth. Fear is a primary emotion that is not content to just annihilate. He also wants to destroy hope. And the only way to make it survive is to try not to forget it.

  • add a comment of Signal is | Review – When terror is within us
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.