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Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel Review

Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel Review

FOBIA - St. Dinfna Hotel is a first-person shooter set in Brazil, where we play as a newbie journalist who is trying to get the story behind a string of paranormal activity and strange disappearances. What sets it apart is the mechanic of being able to see and interact with the past through the camera, which is used mostly to open up new areas or scavenge items. This works well, as the game emphasises exploration, and the camera adds a layer to it. I do want to warn you that it's easy to get lost in Fobia because the areas are large and a bit confusing. 

From the very beginning, I could tell that Fobia had a lot of love poured into it, as upon opening a drawer, a few pencils came rolling to the front just for ambience effect. Additionally, I noticed I was able to open every single drawer and locker I could find, which made it feel very realistic as I searched for the first quest's notebook. Although I personally find it charming to be able to snoop everything (despite most things being empty), I can see how others might find it irritating and a waste of time. Regardless, that type of commitment immediately caught my attention. 

Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel Screenshot 2

Another aspect of the game that had much thought behind it was the graphics and scenery. Not only is Fobia gorgeous to look at (one of my growing favourite aspects of horror games), but they made sure to put hints and realism to the items and setting. My wife (who watched me play) and I spent a lot of time walking around trying to piece together the story the developer was telling through the layout of each area. Although I rarely notice the audio design, I quite enjoyed this one, as the soft tapping of the rain sounded amazing, and the enemies' eery groaning created an immersive atmosphere.

This all came together with the jump scares, which I feel like the developer excelled at. Unlike other games where they rely on just flashing things at you suddenly or discombobulating you through loud noises, Fobia goes about it more like a movie. As an example, sometimes you’ll see a passive silhouette or shadow pass through the screen, as they do in cinema, adding a lot of tension but not in a way that feels in-your-face. This was one of my favourite aspects of the experience, as it felt cinematic and reminiscent of old psychological horror movies I love. In fact, a lot of the game felt cinematic from the beginning, thanks to all the panning and movie-esque shots; the game did an excellent job at setting the atmosphere.

Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel 3

Unfortunately, I wasn't very pleased with the story itself. Although it seems many horror games tend to rely on vague stories, strange twists, and confusing plots, I think that detracts from the experience overall. I noticed upon checking Steam that I wasn't the only one who hadn't understood or liked the ending of the game, either. However, that being said, I think Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel is more than just the unravelling of the story, as it offers a ton of interesting puzzles that had my wife and I hooked. Although it's not uncommon to have this in horror games, we were particularly fond of the creativity behind the ones in the game. They start off slow and a bit too straightforward, but the deeper we got into it, the more complex and enticing they got. It made the bad voice acting and slow story become secondary to the gameplay itself.

This was a great debut game for the developer because they excelled at setting an atmosphere and offering intricate puzzles. Unfortunately, I do feel like they made some mistakes in the aspect of combat and movement. Although they added a few accessibility settings to fix the awkward head bobbing, the character still moves weird when you turn to look at the sides. I believe it's to mimic the feeling of him changing his weight onto the other leg, but this made for an awkward mechanic that made it a bit annoying and clunky to point at things. Additionally, the combat felt a tad underwhelming, as the enemies were slow and easy, taking away the horror game feeling. I hope they find the confidence to overwhelm us in their next game.

Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel 4

As I mentioned, there are quite a few options to mess with, which helped me because I have De Quervain's, so mapping out the keys in a comfortable layout prevented me from getting hurt too much. Additionally, although it's customary to have a warning for photosensitivity, they added many languages and red labels. 

Regardless, I still enjoyed the game quite a bit. I have hope for the developers' future projects, and I look forward to seeing more of their cinematic games in less vague scenarios.

7.50/10 7½

FOBIA - St. Dinfna Hotel (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel is a gorgeous game with awesome puzzles and a cinematic experience. It just won't be the game for you if combat is essential to you.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Violet Plata

Violet Plata

Staff Writer

Liable to jump at her own shadow.

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