Signalis is a love letter to classic survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, that uses an isometric camera angle while also having some modern tweaks such as walking while shooting. Although it is a relic from the past, it wears its influences like a badge of honor and is a game that shouldn’t be ignored.
Its premise takes place in an unknown year, but it is quite obvious that it takes place in the future. It is a planetary system that is governed by the totalitarian Eusan Empire that uses androids called replikas (German pronunciation) that were made from human neural imprints as military and labor force. The player is a replika named Elster who awakens inside a ship on the planet Penrose-512 and must find her partner, Ariane Yeong.
The existential part of the story revolves around a sense of identity that is told through the flashbacks of Yeong during her younger years, as well as the replikas that also have human-like behavior. LGBTQIA+ representation is also seen in this story, since it plays a huge role with the main player Elster who is lesbian.
In my opinion, this character is probably the best girlfriend in video games, next to Liara T’Soni from Mass Effect, despite her not saying anything much until the finale and the flashbacks. It’s a story that must be dissected and studied for the player to draw their own conclusions.
There are a handful of weapons like the shotgun, pistol, magnum, burst fire SMG, and some kind of heavy shotgun alongside close quarter weapons like the stun baton. Nevertheless, one must keep in mind that ammo and resources are scarce with every enemy encounter.
It is a puzzle of choices between fight or flight, or in better terms waste ammo, but the threat is down to run from or fight the enemy while the player must master the inventory system which is just four slots. Lastly, it is important to know that the enemies are based replikas and don’t mess around at all.
Eules are the typical knife wielding grunts, but will inflict moderate damage and use strength in numbers. STARs are rioters using enemies that require skill to either flank or keep their guard down. ARARs are fast moving who crawl outside floor panels and will inflict high damage, but are easy to kill. Kolibris might be weak but will send signals that interfere with the main character’s screen and make it difficult to fight unless the player shoots it, which is just as difficult. Lastly, the Mynahs have both heavy armor and high damage at the same time.
The setting and aesthetic of the game hearkens to animes like Ergo Proxy, as the game adopts a more anime-like visual in the cutscenes themselves, while the industrial and cassette futurism is a highlight of the game to give it this atmosphere that pulls something straight out of 90’s anime.
Though the last act goes into a semi-generic horror setting, it’s still consistent by giving disturbing imagery.
As a person who was disappointed in Krafton’s attempt at making a Dead Space spiritual successor and pre-ordered the Dead Space remake, I bought Signalis rose-engine from the store to pass the time until it was 2023… and boy was I in for a treat the moment the game started.
I entered a world of mystery, terror, dread, and tragedy… I finally entered a legitimate world of survival horror once more. I found myself saving heavy ammunition from time to time alongside stun batons and lighters as enemies don’t stay dead which requires either the player stomping, tasing them when they were still alive, or setting their bodies on fire when they’re down.
There is a clear inspiration from anime alongside Stanley Kubrick when it comes to those themes. A biggest clue to said influence is the appearance of a book called The King In Yellow which was a book that had a hand in the rise of H.P. Lovecraft. It delves deep into existentialism, Lovecraftian horror, identity, and shockingly-love itself. Along with this and the mentioned above, I would give it a 10/10.