If we were reviewing the St. Dinfna Hotel for Tripadvisor, then it would be a bit of a mauling. Old fashioned décor, a serious damp problem, monsters, rubbish WiFi, and a smug receptionist that didn’t even offer to carry our bags to the room. We simply couldn’t recommend staying there.
But here at Push Square, we’re in the business of reviewing games. And when it comes to games — particularly survival horror games — a strong setting goes a long way. Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel’s titular guest house is a wonderful setting for horror.
The game is at its best when you’re wandering the halls of the old girl with no healing items in your inventory, hoping that there’s not going to be something sinister lurking around the corner to jump out and get you. Usually, there isn’t and the game is better for it. Sometimes a creepy little girl wearing a gas mask will pop her head out from behind a wall just to freak you out. It works.
There’s combat but it’s nothing special. You’ve got guns; monsters have glowy bits. As a first-person shooter, Fobia is pretty rough around the edges, but the combat is infrequent enough that it rarely frustrates. If you were feeling charitable then you might even say that the slightly awkward shooting helps to heighten the tension in the same way that old-school Resident Evil or Silent Hill games were made scarier because of their rubbish controls.
We’re giving Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel the benefit of the doubt. It’s flawed for sure. But the ten or twelve-hour playing time is mostly a good time thanks to the effectiveness of the titular guest house as a setting and the oppressive atmosphere it manages to conjure during your stay there.