7 Reviews liked by wavebeem
Like Gothic fiction, the best classic survival horror games thrive on a sense of place - not just a setting itself but the game's aesthetic, the environment design and layout, the unfolding layer of puzzles by which you progress through that place. More than any other genre, a strong sense of place is essential to tying a survival horror game's various elements together into a cohesive and memorable experience.
Signalis absolutely understands this, going all-in on a creepy, industrial sci-fi facility with low light, killer androids, and pulsating, fleshy masses that slowly encroach on everything. Each individual section of the facility is its own self-contained puzzle box full of intricate shortcuts and backtracking that build an intimate map in your head that helps them stick in your mind. It's all helped along by the game's gorgeous, anime and PS1-inspired aesthetic that looks like very little else out there.
Best of all though is the game's storytelling, which explores themes of memory and identity in a thoroughly disorienting manner, utilizing unexpected fragmentary flashbacks, dream-like first-person segments, still images, and snippets of text to keep you confused and uncomfortable while remaining grounded in emotional truth. I've never seen a game attempt storytelling like this and it's brilliant (and also wonderfully sapphic).
If I had any real complaints about this game, it's the frustrating boss fights (the final boss especially is a pain, even with a boatload of healing items and a shitload of ammo) and the extremely small six-slot inventory, which forces a little too much running back and forth, as well as a frustrating area that disables the mapping feature (intended to keep you disoriented, but I found I just kept running into frustrating enemy encounters). It can definitely be a little frustrating sometimes, but it's absolutely worth pushing through for a game that truly understands what made the survival horror classics effective and builds on that in unique ways.
Might re-review after playing more on Infinite Climax but am disappointed with what I've played thus far.
The action is better than what I remember from Bayo 2 but some flaws of that game compared to Bayo 1 (variable witch time, piss-weak combos, too many giant enemies, etc) haven't been addressed. I don't think the new Demon Slave mechanics are as good as Astral Chain's take on the idea either.
About the story, Bayonetta games aren't exactly Shakespeare, but Bayo 3 is unfortunately the most bloated, least interesting and least entertaining out of the three. They did our girl dirty too.
Did Bayonetta 1 and 2 have so many railshooting sequences and giant kaiju fights? I can't remember as much of this filler in the first two games. Sure, this stuff mixes the game up, but they are pretty shallow especially when you compare it to the game's core combat. It feels like whenever I'm starting to get into a rhythm with the combat it pulls me out into a dumb rail shooter sequence or a big kaiju fight with dumbed down controls.
Combines great combat, excellent dungeon design, and Metroid-like exploration with a constant ticking timer on both your own and every NPC’s mortality to become the best, most original and queerest indie Zelda-like in a while.
I played with death timers on, but I’d love to play again with them off so I can comb over every one of the world’s secrets