Advent Calendar RPS 2022, December 3

Welcome to the third day of the RPS Christmas Advent Calendar. Yes, I say date. It was actually night, but certainly nothing could harm us in this quaint town. Wait. Did you hear that? Is… is there something behind us? I swear it looks like something is watching us. I don’t like that creaking sound at all. Do you have any maps? Oh my God you don’t have a map?

Of course it’s sublime and beautiful horror game Saturnalia!

Alice Bee: I think it’s pretty predictable that I’ll get Saturnalia on this list by hook or crook – or indeed by the creepy masked creature. But I promise I’ll just bring you back to my underground nest and eat you as part of an ancient folk ritual as a last resort (or if you ask I’m really pretty, like).

A few years ago, posting an example of a game breaking or being stupid was a fairly common and not-so-cool joke, with the caption “video games suck, actually lololol” , but I’ll let you in on a secret: a number of times this year, I find myself in a place where my mind is like a gray fog that I think is real. It was in such a period of time, splashing in a sea boring, I played Saturnalia. It’s like an angel throwing me a life jacket and saying “video games are good“.

Map of Gravoi in Saturnalia
No no no, you are left.

I will admit that it is not for everyone, as it is a horror game and a scary game. At least – and to the extent that different genres of horror will frighten different types of people – I thought it was very scary. It is set in a fictional Sardinian mining town, almost completely isolated from the rest of the world and mired in decades-old secrets and traditions. Instead of trying to change anything, the locals of Gravoi are content to organize an annual folk festival, which regularly hosts an old monster crawling around the mining tunnels below. town and appear to grab anyone on the street behind the night.

You play as a group of four outsiders trying to a) survive the night and b) escape, the latter playing a key role in the former and requiring you to explore Gravoi to find other buildings and tools useful each other. However, exploring is easier said than done as there are no HUD maps or quest markers. There are map boards in the game to view regularly, but other than that, you just need to get to know the town. Just like real life used to be. Each character has a different (very limited) skill set, such as a polaroid flash camera or a map and compass for traversing the mines. You can also uncover a web of stories and secrets that revolve around a group of barely visible townspeople who all appear desperate and/or sad, even though you only experience them through letters, photographs or personal scraps. In the meantime, this creature may appear to chase you, with your only defense really running and hiding.

Saturnalia boasts excellent sound design – most especially for the creature itself, which rattles as it approaches and, in some cases, emits a terrifying hiss – and the visual style is absolutely beautiful. It blooms with unrealistic neon shades that add color to Gravoi’s dark black and white alleyways. Over the course of the game, I began to see the monster as just a manifestation of my true enemy, the town itself.

If all four characters are grabbed by this creature, the town will rearrange itself into a whole new configuration. It was never a hostile space to exist. You are only caught because you are lost and cannot find anywhere to hide. You are only in danger because the locals will not help. They are so resistant to change that people have died and will continue to be. In more ways than one. It’s a metaphor, is what I’m talking about. And it’s very good.


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