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Parents' Guide to


By Joey Thurmond, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Mystery horror game has solid ideas, inconsistent execution.

The cover art for Saturnalia, which shows the monster's horned mask hovering in the air with an eerie pink light cast over it.

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

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This game is equally about survival and horror as it is detective work, even if it doesn't fully come together in the end. In Saturnalia, you assume control of four separate characters who have their respective reasons for being in an isolated, creepy village, but all of them are roped into unraveling an ancient mystery that touches on all of their lives. You switch between these characters and explore your surroundings for clues and tools, which slowly spins a web of previously unconnected stories. This "mind map" (similar to a crime board) of helpful icons, connecting lines, and color coding shows how much the history of places, people, and practices influence each other. But this particular game is held back by its presentation. Characters have no expressions or voice acting, and while the art style is bold and plot points heavy, emotive performances and distinct personalities aren't conveyed through the writing alone.

Even the gameplay leaves more to be desired. The monster that chases you will get your heart racing with stellar sound design and scary moments. The title makes a huge ordeal out of switching characters, even over long distance with phones spread across town. Another issue is how you don't lose your story progress upon dying, but the town's level design changes, so you have to relearn the layout of landmarks. Bonfires to mark your path, firecrackers to distract the monster, places to hide in - - all of these sound like they come together to induce exciting strategic play, but it's unnecessary mechanical fluff that hides the actual lack of survival and horror in this experience with a monster that can be circumvented and outrun too easily. That's not to speak for the solid design and flow of its quest progression, but as a whole, Saturnalia doesn't fully follow through with its gameplay and narrative ambitions. Nonetheless, the story and scares it offers are worth a shot for horror fans.

Game Details

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