As heavy darkness permeates the discomforting town of Gravoi, Saturnalia dares you to survive it long enough to unveil the village’s hidden skeletons. Harkening back to the good ol’ survival horror games of the 90s, this artsy but quite disturbing indie horror manages to rattle your bones after the credits hit.
Don’t let the game’s small setting fool you as it's both the title's heart and your doom. Devoid of any guidance, Saturnalia forces you to rely on your own memory and scarce in-game map boards to navigate its maze-like passages. As a nightmarish creature hunts you down, limited items such disposable matches not only ramp up the tension but also test your resourcefulness.
When not evading the creature, you're tasked with collecting various items and clues. However, there is a particular mechanic that makes Saturnalia stand out. Once all four characters die, the entire town’s layout is restructured. This offers a fresh challenge to your survival skills.
The unique minimalist setting is claustrophobia-inducing. The sound design, such as the creature’s rattling, help make every step in this town soul-stirring. In addition, the hand-drawn art style boosts the disquieting setting. However, the sketchbook-y visuals make the framerate dip here and there, but nothing too distracting. The camera, as such, also has a few stumbles getting in your way as you run from the enemy. If you want to play around with the intensity, the game bolsters quite the arsenal in accessibility. From infinite stamina to multiple difficulty levels, the freedom to choose your playstyle is plentiful.
Ultimately, Saturnalia is one unique horror experience where the developer's own use of limited resources combine to create something compelling and unique.