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Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel, Byte Size Review

I have to be honest, I don’t tend to sit alone in the dark with a horror/survival games any more. Sure, Resident Evil and Silent Hill are memorable experiances from my “gamer history”, but as I have got older they not experiances I need to revisit. Honestly, just too scary. Fobia – St Dinfna Hotel is drawing inspiration from these giants of the genre, but with slightly less… intensity. The end result is actually nice balance of timid scares and puzzles, that I actually quite enjoyed.

Fobia is from an “Indie” studio based in Brazil and amazingly, this is their first game. I have done no digging into this fact, so have no undertsanding of the makeup of Pulsatrix Studios and what experience their developers have had in the past. But if this is infact their debut game. I expect to see big things from them later on, as this is a very impressive first go round. Granted, there are some techincal hiccups and rough edges, but its quality and design is better than I expected it to be.

Who doesn’t love a Spooky Hotel?

The gameplay design and graphical quality is on par with a entry level double AA type title. Which is great. Unfortunately the cliche setting and narrative leaves a bit to be desired. Set in a spooky hotel, your character is a Journalist, investigating weird going ons. So, swap the ‘Hotel’ for a ‘Mental Asylum’ pretty much the set-up of every other creepy horror game of the last 20 years. If I was to do a “think of this and that” comparison, what jumped to mind as I played was Outlast with a touch of The Medium. Both good games….but with issues.

Fobia is a slow, methodical thriller. Finding clues, solving puzzles, finding keys and codes to open doors is a big part of the game. There is shooting, but the general feel of the gunplay is pretty poor. Monsters and enemies have limited animations and don’t always register clear ‘hits’, so my fear was often replaced with frustration. The camera control tuning is a tad wonky. Its too slow for general navigation of rooms, to open drawers and reading documents. But when I turned up the sensitivity. Gunplay was unweildy and very tricky to aim with not enough ‘sicky’ and was the main reason I never actually finished the game.

Re-treading tropes.

A large part of the game early on reminded me of The Medium, as the Hotel has two different realties. A path may appear blocked, but in the other reality the way is clear or the clue is visible. This alternative reality is viewed only by looking through the journalists camera viewfinder. Quite WHY the camera could see these hidden paths though…I’m not sure. Its a means to an end I guess. The swapping of realities makes the game seem smarter than it really in though.

Fobia does nothing new for the genre, in fact it heavily relies on those that have come before for inspiration. Granted, it has done a pretty good job to combine ideas from the greats, into a game that surival horror fans will find familar and probably enjoy. I certainly enjoyed my time and it was a fun distraction for a few hours. It’s not a AAA title, but its not pretending to be. At just $55 NZD, it’s not a bad option to tide horror fans over until Coltisto Protocol comes out later this year.