“Remember our promise” - Indie dev duo rose-engine introduce their atmospheric and unsettling first game.
Signalis is not only a classic survival horror game, but also a psychological horror story with elements of cosmic horror, so what I write here will only scratch the surface. To find out what this game is really about, you will have to play it for yourself.
Signalis is an atmospheric, melancholic horror story set in a retrotech sci-fi world.
You are Elster, a technician Replika, who wakes up from stasis to find that her spaceship has crash-landed, and that the pilot Ariane Yeong, the only other person on board, is missing. Elster soon finds something hidden below the planet’s icy surface that should not be there, and receives a mysterious radio signal that changes everything.
Driven by a promise to her lost partner, Elster makes her way through a seemingly abandoned re-education and mining facility where she has to face horribly distorted figures trudging through the hallways and attacking on sight.
As she descends deeper into the facility and the mines, she encounters another Replika with a dark agenda, a young woman who has her own burdens to bear, and strange visions of memories from another life.
The world of Signalis is a stark and desolate place of concrete walls and humming CRT screens – a world in which the totalitarian regime of Eusan is ever present through surveillance, bureaucracy, and propaganda.
As Elster journeys into the mysterious government facility, she must find creative ways to get through its many bureaucratic safeguards. She must use her radio to decrypt messages, unlock doors through codes and keycards, and solve puzzles based on logic.
When developing these puzzles, it was important to us that the solutions are not absurd or far-fetched, but make sense both in the game’s world and to the player. For example, at one point several parts of a tool must be combined to make it usable, or a chemical must be used to dissolve something in accordance with its real-world properties.
Underlining its Cold War–inspired setting, Signalis features real number station recordings.
Number stations have been used since World War I and transmit encoded messages through shortwave radio signals, often in the form of morse code or synthesized speech. The contents and senders of these number stations are unknown to this day. Most likely, many of these transmissions were sent by secret services to their undercover agents.
Fans of cassette futurism can look forward to handling floppy disks, self-developing photos, and old-fashioned operating systems displayed on clunky CRT screens. The latter is also reflected in the game’s inventory.
You’ll be spending some time in this inventory, since Signalis is a love letter to the classics of PS1-era survival horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Resources like ammunition and health items are scarce, and what you can carry is limited, though a storage box allows you to swap items as needed. To preserve resources you will have to decide when it’s best to fight or run.
The game’s stark, stylized visuals are an homage to Brutalism and 80s technology, and are subtly contrasted by occult themes. Our slow-paced but intense direction style is inspired by the works of Stanley Kubrick, Hideaki Anno, and David Lynch, which is reflected in the game’s almost experimental cutscenes and bold typography. We were also influenced by the art of mangaka Tsutomu Nihei, which is especially noticeable in the Replikas’ mostly black designs and carefully placed contrasting elements.
We have put great care into creating unsettling atmospheres, droning soundscapes, and a multilayered story that will hopefully stay with you even after finishing the game.
Signalis will be available worldwide on PS4 on October 27, 2022.