Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel
Yet Another Who Forgot To Read The Yelp Reviews
It's very rare that I cover games with similar premises back to back but with such a common niche genre, lightning striking twice is an expectation. Our previous first impression coverage, Oxide Room 104, took place at a haunted hotel with the intention of escaping from it alive. Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel, as the name would suggest, is another horror game where the goal is to escape from a haunted hotel. There are some differences between the two and having played both for the same time frame, I can see which of the two is better.
Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel was developed by Brazilian-based Pulsatrix Studios, which is shown via the game itself. The location is in Brazil, with documents found in the game written in Portugese. The attention to detail in correlation to the location of the game is a strong suit for Fobia. Even down to the title, there is a form of commitment as Fobia, translated from Portuguese, is indeed Phobia. As the name suggests, the game capitalizes on the fear of the unknown via both the player and the protagonists.
Uncover The Truth But Be Prepared To Die For It
The first protagonist the player controls is an investigator named Juao, who was successful in infiltrating a religious cult but was ultimately captured. Upon reading some documents, it turns out that this man was on a mission to expose the cult while documenting it in his journal. The game is played in a first-person perspective much like the current Resident Evil games. Upon waking up in his cell, there is a note with a key attached to it. All the note says is "Corra!!" or "Run," which gives a bit of foresight as to what to expect. There isn't much in the way of controls although I can discuss some settings that Fobia adds I wished all FPS titles did.
For starters, there are accessibility options that include a way to track objective progress via inventory and boss battles with replenishable ammo. There are even FOV settings, making for a wider viewing angle that's much appreciated. There is mandatory combat but much like other survival horror games under default settings, managing your resources is paramount to survival. Fortunately, the entire prologue and first part of the first scene bear little to do with combat, simply finding keys and hiding Juao's diary. Unfortunately, a mutated being that looks like Nemesis's cousin appears. It hunts Juao down and effectively pieces its hand through his stomach. While the first protagonist's death is part of the story, the second one is introduced.
It's Always The Hotels That Appear Normal...
Fast forward to 2009 and the player shifts the protagonist to Roberto, a journalist hired for a scoop on a mystery involving the cult the previous protagonist was investigating. Reading through Roberto's emails for context, it seems he was to meet a woman who invited him to the St. Dinfna Hotel. As to be expected, the woman never shows up, leaving Roberto in his stay at the hotel for over a week. As no progress was made in the development of the story, he decides to prepare to leave the following day and of course, that's when everything decides to break loose.
A portal appears, locking Roberto in what seems to be an alternate parallel universe. Shortly he discovers a glowing pocket watch that, when paired with a wall clock, allows players to save the game. Interesting. But not as interesting to know that the player is once again stuck in a hotel room with no way of exiting. Much like Oxide Room 104, the player must investigate the room to find a way out. Fortunately, there are no cheap deaths where the player hits their head on the bathtub or interacts with a killer centipede. This game actually encourages inspection of the player's surroundings.
Puzzles And Locked Escape Rooms Seem To Be A Common Occurrence
After solving several simple puzzles including referring to a metal apparatus and documented notes for the number to a safe, the player will have access to a camera. First-person gameplay involving cameras can only mean one thing. There's a supernatural entity abound, maybe even a ghost. Suddenly the game shifts from Resident Evil to Fatal Frame, although the latter's combat is not really present in Fobia. Utilizing the camera here means that Roberto uncovers details that are otherwise hidden in plain sight.
Using the camera in the bathroom will cause the game's vision to become distorted. Suddenly another wormhole appears featuring the spirit of a young girl, who is revealed to be possessing the bathtub. After this scene, the door finally opens and the player can see a figure off in the distance. It's clear at this point that there's more at work than a simple "cult" and that the hotel is haunted. Big surprise here, but the presentation is pretty spot on for Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel. It doesn't have the most stellar voice acting, but the attempt to make the game accessible for as many as possible is a nice touch. Those who are fans of horror games would find enjoyment in this. Any horror game utilizing a camera as a gimmick is an interesting one to me although I feel I will touch upon this gimmick more in future titles.
Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel is available on Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.