- - 8/108/10
Surreal and suitably spooky level design, inspired puzzles and good pacing make Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel a place worth checking into.
Developer – Pulsatrix Studios
Publisher – Maximum Games
Platforms – Xbox Series 1/S/X, PlayStation 4/5, PC (Reviewed)
Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel is a new horror game that revolves around a mysterious hotel where things aren’t always what they seem. You mainly play the game as Roberto Lopes, who is staying at the St. Dinfna Hotel to write a story about the strange occurrences that are happening there.
You are supposed to meet your friend Stephanie, who is going to help you with your article, but she is nowhere to be found. After a week of no progress, you decide to hop in the shower to relax but are swallowed up by some sort of time-bending black hole.
You awake 50 years into the future and the hotel is crumbling around you. You find a new lens for your camera that allows you to see a different dimensional version of your surroundings, and you must discover what has happened. While this synopsis might seem a little “out there”, things become much clearer as you play on.
The hotel is definitely a great environment, there is just something that is eerie about the whole thing. There is cultist activity, flashbacks to the distant past, time-travel, and mutant research subjects. It is filled with puzzles, limited ammo, and mysteries in every corner.
As such, the gameplay reminds me of the original Resident Evil games, but in first person. As you progress, you will gain access to a few different weapons that you can upgrade by spending points that you accrue by collecting tesseracts. For example, these upgrades can increase the gun’s damage, recoil, and magazine size. While the controls can be a bit stiff with the guns, everything works well enough.
Another great thing about the game are the puzzles and sense of exploration. You do come across items that will help you access that were previously unreachable. I would highly recommend keeping a notepad to jot down locations of things like safes and locked rooms to help yourself remember all of these additional areas. The rewards are usually worth going for since things like ammo and upgrade points are fairly limited.
The boss encounters in the game are pretty standard and the enemy variation leaves room for improvement. It reminds me of how Deadly Premonition added combat to help sell the game and make it more interesting to a wider range of people.
This is highlighted by the “chuggy” weapon controls and lack of responsiveness. It’s not terrible, but certainly not very fluid. Even with max upgrades for recoil and aiming of certain weapons, they still lack precision. I guess you could chalk this up to Roberto being just a journalist, but combined with limited ammo, it can be a chore.
Other than that minor complaint, there is a lot to enjoy with Fobia! Technically, the game runs well. Environments are nicely detailed, character models are serviceable, monster design (while limited) is well done.
I also did enjoy the story overall and the two endings. After you complete the game for the first time you unlock New Game + which allows you to try and max out your weapon upgrades and also aim for a higher ranking.
To complete my play through, it took around 10 hours and I only managed to complete 44% of the puzzles and found 82% of the documents hidden in the hotel. There is quite a bit of value and fun to be had with Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel and I hope you give it a shot!