Fobia: St Dinfna Hotel Review – Lost in the Dark

    Title: Fobia: St Dinfna Hotel
    Developer: Pulsatrix
    Release Date: June 28, 2022
    Reviewed On: PS5
    Publisher: Maximum Games
    Genre: Survival Horror

I’ve been a fan of horror games for years now. Ever since I played the original Resident Evil, I found myself searching for more, looking for the next game that could capture the same magic. Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel attempts to recapture that feeling, and shows much love for the classic Survival-Horror series, although it ultimately falls short.

Roberto Lopes is an investigative reporter who has received a request to write a piece on the small town of Treze Trilha and the strange sightings of a young girl in a gas mask. His journalistic instincts ignited, Roberto rushes off and checks into the St Dinfna hotel.

While waiting for the client to contact him, Roberto experiences a strange orb, and instantly the hotel deteriorates around him. With monsters now roaming the halls, he must escape the hotel’s remains with his life.

The story of Fobia is pretty standard for survival-horror titles, and nothing will surprise veterans of the genre. However, the delivery of lines and the mystery of the hotel, girl, and cult keep everything from overstaying its welcome.

Some items were disappointing but didn’t keep me from enjoying myself. The major nitpick is that all the in-game note text is in Portuguese. Telling the game to read the note brings up the translated text. I understand why the developers did this but was initially confused when reading notes brought up different text than what was written.

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Aside from this, every note adds more to the story and the mystery in the background. Another gripe is that the game is exceptionally dark, to the point that I had to fiddle with my settings to be able to see. The flashlight mitigates this issue when players find it, but I needed to keep it on for almost the entire duration of my playtime.

This darkness also affected certain puzzles, as the game was so dark that I needed to view my screen head-on to see the symbols required to solve it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time with the puzzles, as many are required to complete the story and access extra resources.

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I will admit this can get out of hand when solving a puzzle gains access to another you haven’t even found yet. This puzzle-ception happens with secondary puzzles the most, as you clear them away only to find another taunting you, just to be rewarded with extra bullets or an item upgrade.

I find that these puzzles aren’t exactly worth going for 100% completion first playthrough, as resource management isn’t a problem. For example, I could kill 90% of the monsters roaming the halls and still manage to have over 700 bullets between my four weapons.

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The number of bullets needed to kill each enemy randomly varies, requiring between three to nine shots. Only scoring a hit on their heart guarantees an instant kill, conserving your ammo. I could easily hit their core, ensuring that more ammo was redundant.

Even the item upgrades you obtain don’t feel very rewarding because you need so many before you can upgrade one of your weapons. Furthermore, at the higher end of upgrades, players will need to collect thirty of the upgrade items, making them feel like a chore rather than a reward.

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The main mechanic that makes Fobia stand out is using a camera to peer through dimensions or time. The camera will reveal hidden messages or even objects needed to proceed. Whenever I was at a loss for what to do next, I would search for a handprint that would denote that I could see into the other dimension.

This ability ties back into the story nicely through gameplay. I wish the developers pushed this mechanic further. If the developers allowed players to see in the other dimension outside the designated points or included monsters that could only be seen through the camera, it would be far better. These would have added to the tense atmosphere, as even if you couldn’t see anything, there would be a reason to fear what could be lurking just out of view.

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Fobia isn’t perfect, but it’s through those imperfections that I see a game that loves what survival horror was and tries to capture that magic. Even though enemies are quickly dispatched and the dark lighting can be detrimental to the puzzles at times, fans of the genre will enjoy their time rummaging through the halls of the St Dinfna Hotel.

Score:
7.5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Nathan Mejia

The guy who will play anything you throw at him. Will talk your ear off about anything and everything Video Game, Music, and Anime related. You have been warned.