Like a faint radio transmission, it’s been a while since we last heard from Signalis. Two years since Dominic Tarason snatched its teaser trailer, with a brief stop in Screenshot Saturday Sundays under Jay’s tenure last year. But this week, developers Rose-Engine boosted the signal, broadcasting a new trailer that plunges deeper into the beautiful, horrifying depths of their sci-fi survival-horror.
Granted, these aren’t quite the visuals I’d expect to run alongside Chopin’s Raindrop prelude. Oh, I’m not complaining.
Running off the influence of old PlayStation fixed-camera spooks like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, Signalis trades macabre blood-and-guts for altogether more cosmic horror. It’s flight over fight, combat playing second-fiddle to puzzle-solving. Ammo is scarce, so you’ll spend less time gunning down shadows than fixing up old tech, cleaning up radio transmissions before the derelict facility’s unruly residents can bring our heroine to a brutal end.
Look – plenty of devs have riffed on old-school horror (what’s up, HauntedPS1?). I’m probably even guilty of writing the occasional Signalis shot off as “one of those”, looking it over when trying not to flood Screenshot Saturday Sundays with retro horror antics. But there’s something deeply, fascinatingly alien going on in Signalis.
Characters painted in sharp anime tones move from abandoned corridors to otherworldly voids rendered in stark reds and blacks. Visuals switch seamlessly between low-fi fixed cameras, hyper-detailed environmental close-ups and hand-drawn figures that sit uncomfortably between 2D and 3D. Replicants grappling against dimensionless existential threats through the lens of a CRT screen? It’s a powerful look.
Illustrators and developers Alex Yang and Barbara Wittmann (working under the Rose-Engine moniker) have been plugging away at Signalis since at least early-2014 – taking the occasional break to release Itch platformers Ascend and Coffin Counselling. While Signalis has still to transmit a final release date, the iso-horror has since snagged a spot on Steam.