Launched on 27th October 2022 by small indie team rose-engine of Hamburg, Germany, this is inspired by late ’90s era horror jaunts such as the PlayStation’s Resident Evil (1996).
But Signalis has nods to Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), alongside an excellent aesthetic, and punchy survival opportunities. And it’s bloody good. Hurray!
Going Underground in Signalis
Signalis starts simple enough. The scout shuttle Penrose-512 crash lands on an icy world called Leng. You take control of a Replika unit called Elster (LSTR) and you start a search for your Gestalt partner—Ariane.
Once you leave your ship looking for her, you head into the Sierpinski-23 mining facility. And you discover there’s a totalitarian regime at hand in the vast underground complex you must explore in intricate detail.
In true survival horror fashion, you’ve got to mosey on around find out what the hell is going on. And that means you’ve got to get many, many keys, open doors, solve puzzles, and shoot baddies.
Here’s the first 20 minutes in action to behold, you heathens!
Signalis has been well received by critics, with Destructoid handing it 9.5/10! Others haven’t enthused quite so much, with general scores of 80/100.
We’re not quite agreeing with Destructoid on this one.
Signalis is a great game but, unless you’re used to Resident Evil type romps, its relentless stop-start nature will soon frustrate. The genre is survival horror, which brings with it many puzzles and key management requirements.
For example, early on there’s a section where you have to pick a lock. It took us bloody ages to work out—it just didn’t make any sense.
And there’s a lot of that. Progress is halted by some puzzle you have to work out, so you must carefully remember the pattern of corridors (which are bloody complex at times) to get from A-B-F-G-A again.
All just to open a door, or some such.
Very faithful to the retro Resident Evil genre, then, but hiked up a bit to 11 and there you go. Really, it depends if you want to experience that again. If you do, Signalis will be amazeballs for you.
The atmospherics are great. The complexity is all there with the plot, puzzles, and intricacies.
And the soundtrack is suitably spooky, too, as you’d expect! Have a listen (and more on this SOB further below). But it has its more chilled moments, too.
Plus, the game looks fantastic. It really has that original PlayStation sheen, a bit like similar horror jaunt Heilwald Loophole. But more polished.
Our verdict? Well, we enjoyed the Signalis. When it’s at its best, the thing is fantabulous—atmospheric, enigmatic, and spooky.
But the whole running around corridors to locate some random key you missed at some point, to run back to the room you’re trying to remember the location of, is a little bit of a drag at times.
Plus, you need to check every… single… document… you come across, otherwise you may miss a vital clue.
You want to be enjoying the game and what rose-engine created here. As it’s a marvel to behold for its atmospherics and looks. But we wonder how many people will abandon the thing after 30 minutes as they’re stuck at the lock picking bit. We almost gave up.
Yet our merciless perseverance dragged us on deeper into Signalis.
We recommend it! As there be horror delights within the five hours or so of gameplay. And it’s a passion project with a lot of horrific love to offer.
Signalis’ Suitably Spooky Soundtrack
Signalis’ soundtrack is by composers Cicada Sirens and 1000 Eyes.
Although it does have occasional additions of classical music by Chopin (Raindrop Prelude, Op. 28, No. 15), the majority of the work is original.
Die Toteninsel above is our favourite from the soundtrack, riffing as it does from Chopin. And it reminds us of Jeremy Soule’s brilliant piece Secunda from the outstanding Skyrim soundtrack.
Other pieces from the score are reminiscent of Vangelis’ work in Blade Runner (the go-to synth genius that he remains). Other moments are more reflective.
Overall, it’s a solid score with some real highlights. And it works a treat in ramping up the sense of isolation on the icy world of Leng.