The summer months are usually quiet for horror content. Every so often we’ll get one blockbuster horror film, maybe a game, and then we have to wait for the fall season to get anything more. With games like The Quarry and movies such as The Black Phone now in theaters, the summer might just be the new horror norm.
Now aside from the standard film-like narratives of those QTE games out there, horror fans will agree that there is nothing like a good first-person survival horror game. Titles such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill might come to mind while playing the latest survival game to test our fear limits. Imagine combining the hotel from The Shining with creatures from The Last of Us. If this sounds at all enticing, then Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel may be the game to quench your blood lust.
Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel is the latest and first horror game created by a small group of Brazilian indie developers at Pulsatrix Studios. The story follows the first-person perspective of amateur journalist Roberto Leite Lopes as he investigates the strange disappearances somehow linked to the historic hotel of St. Dinfna. As Roberto stays at the hotel, he slowly unravels the mysteries and dangers that lie within. Along with solving puzzles, fighting off monsters, and unraveling the secrets of a sadistic cult, Roberto must find his own way to survive the time-bending horrors that want to make his stay permanent.
Very shortly after Roberto checks into the hotel, everything gets flipped and he finds himself in a badly damaged and “abandoned” version of the hotel instead. The game requires you to explore and collect in order to advance. Traveling narrow hallways, checking cabinets and corners, and being very observant always is the key to this game. The controls are pretty standard and functions more closely to most PC survival games. Approach objects to observe, collect, read, gather supplies and upgrade items. You can store these items in your inventory and sometimes combine them when needed. Not everything is super clear and you’re going to have to do your own detective work to simply escape a room or return to it, and return to it you will because this game requires a lot of back tracking.
The puzzles were my favorite part of the game and if you like these kinds of elements in horror games then you will be satisfied. The one thing I’d say is for the most part they aren’t crazy challenging but some of the puzzles provided little to no clues for context. I honestly got lucky with some and I’m sure you can look at a walkthrough online if you ever get stuck.
The combat was pretty standard with upgradeable guns to battle monsters with. Some of the monsters are easily killed while others will drain your ammo for no reason which is frustrating. If you struggle with aiming, especially while a monster is chasing you, then I suggest you put on aim assist. The combination between exploration and survival should be satisfactory and entertaining, but there are some faults with this game when it comes to graphics and the map layout.
Some creatures and apparitions you come across might appear glitchy and unimpressionable. Even the “Gas Mask Girl” isn’t much of a thriller and she feels more like a wish version of Cheryl Mason from Silent Hill. The one most unique and saving element of this game would have to be Roberto’s camera.
The camera allows Roberto to view the past at any point, even going into damaged rooms and exploring the way it used to be. This feature makes the map feel doubled and adds more to your exploration because some items or pathways may only be accessible while using the camera.
The game takes about 9 hours or more to fully complete, and while the story is pretty entertaining, you won’t find anything completely unpredictable. There are good scares, fun puzzles, and an intriguing mystery at times, but overall the game feels dated. I do find comfort in the fact that this game is the developers first attempt at horror and I think this is an amazing game that they could definitely build upon in the future.
Anybody that plays this will have fun despite the grueling exploration and repetitive combat because this is exactly what these types of games usually require. To me, Fobia: St. Dinfna is a horror homage to the nostalgic and original formula of the games we’ve come to love, and for that, I believe it to be a pretty solid horror game. If you want to take on the mysteries, puzzles, monsters, and horrors of the St. Dinfna Hotel, it is available now on Xbox, PC, and Playstation for $29.99.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel for the Xbox Series X provided by Pulsatrix Studios and Maximum Games.