As I have discussed on this site many, many times, I do not like horror games, and so struggle to enjoy even the genre’s finest examples. There is absolutely no way in hell, then, I should be enjoying Signalis as much as I am.
Released last week on the PC, Signalis is a sci-fi horror game that sees you playing as an android, marooned on an alien planet that’s full of mysterious, empty buildings, weird monsters, and blood.
I’m going to do that annoying indie games coverage thing now where I get reductive and compare it to other games, not to dismiss everything cool and unique Signalis is going for, but just to make it easier for someone who hasn’t played it to get a feel for it.
Imagine the original Resident Evil games, with their set perspective, inventory management and light puzzle-solving. Now throw in some of Alien Isolation or System Shock’s “rummaging through a cursed sci-fi space” appeal. Then present the whole thing in this absolutely filthy (and I mean this in the best way possible) PS1 aesthetic, with a heavy dose of Tsutomu Nihei in the character design. That’s Signalis.
It’s plodding, it’s brutal, it’s unnerving without venturing too far into outright horror, and I’m absolutely loving everything about it. I love the animation, as your android paces cautiously through the hallways, or smoothly loads another clip into her firearm. I love the way the world design somehow presents Japanese sci-fi with an East German twist. I love the writing, which sees the story unfold in the traditional “fragments of notes left throughout the world” kind of way, only done to perfection. And I love the sound design, some of the starkest you’ll come across this year, making it an absolute must to play with headphones.
Here’s the launch trailer:
Signalis launched last week on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, and if you have Game Pass it’s currently on that too.