Developer: Pulsatrix Studios
Publisher: Maximum Games
Reviewed For: PlayStation 5
Few genres benefit from the indie scene in the that horror does. A horror game doesn’t necessarily need top tier visuals or engines to be effective. All horror needs is atmosphere, a method of holding the player’s attention, and of course, some scares. Most of this can be achieved through a creative setting and excellent sound design. Fobia – St Dinfna Hotel is the latest horror game that utilizes an effective atmosphere to deliver solid scares. Still, it falls short of some of the other independent horror greats.
In Fobia, players take on the role of a journalist checking into the St Dinfna hotel. Some weird stuff is going on there. There is the supernatural, a strange woman in a mask, some scary monsters, and even cultists. Yes, Fobia has a little of everything. There are excellent sequences of just roaming the halls. There are Resident Evil style puzzles, and combat with gunplay.
The scares are fairly frequent, with a nice blend of jump scares and long term psychological damage. The hotel itself is full of decay, and the ability to switch from a normal camera to one with night vision adds to the tension.
The game’s puzzles are likely inspired by the ones you’d see in the Resident Evil series. The camera mentioned before allows for more than just seeing in the dark. This camera bends reality a bit and lets players see the hotel in a new perspective. Here, it’s spookier, and areas that look like walls without the camera are actually passageways. Hidden messages become available to the play, and sometimes even items that help with progression are hidden behind it. Most of the puzzles involve finding items and knowing where to put them. There isn’t much variety, but it works and players will use their brains a little to progress. Just don’t expect an actual puzzle game.
While Fobia is competent or better in just about every way, its greatest weakness is the combat. Players will dispatch enemies and bosses with guns. Unfortunately, shooting with those guns simply isn’t fun. The guns don’t feel particularly weighty, and the gunplay isn’t engaging. The monsters don’t really flinch when hit with bullets either, making it possible to even wonder if the players is hitting the target. Bosses are simply bullet sponges. It’s all uninspired, making combat a chore rather than a thrill.
While Fobia – St Dinfna Hotel certainly has its moments, it is severely held back by the lackluster combat. The vibes are spooky and the designs are creepy, but needing to waste time on bullet sponges simply isn’t fun and makes the game much less scary.
Fobia - St Dinfna Hotel
Fobia - St Dinfna Hotel is an adequate horror game with good scares but disappointing combat.