A review of SIGNALIS, by rose-engine

When it comes to the polygonal PlayStation aesthetic, my rose-colored glasses are my favourite accessory, ones I’ve carried with me since my childhood JRPG experiences. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, carrying my credit card information all the way through a call to action by YouTube essayist Jacob Geller, into an assault by a PlayStation purchase screen. It won. Sold, on Signalis‘ polygonal, top-down gameplay and generous helpings of classic survival horror references.

A leisurely 15 hours in, rose-engine’s debut has sunk its fingers into my flesh. Being that the game is slow-paced and introspective take on a German/Eurasian Cold War setting, each revealed story layers feels dense and relevant in our current wartime zeitgeist. The clutch of Signalis feels like last winter’s playthrough of Parasite Eve. Ominous, confident and its lore calling for smart achtung (attention!), this is easily my most riveting videogame of 2022. Item management, claustrophobic corridors, and lo-fi horror science fiction storytelling – Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil all come to mind. Signalis, a light prism of references, commands its own attention.

Major applause to Barbara Wittmann and Yuri Stern, the two-person team at rose-engine, may Signalis be inducted in the pantheon of classic survival horror gaming. The screeching doors, the scarcity of usable (and sometimes combinable) items, save rooms to store your salvaged gear – all reverentially executed survival horror mechanics. It’s a sharp reminder that videogames don’t have to be open-world luxuries or graphical exegesis. A puzzle to tickle the mind is enough reason to pick up and play.

The breadth of references in Signalis is widespread, a highbrow selection of music, anime, film, videogame, art, and literature are all available for perusal. Art direction inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Bladerunner, horror writers Richard Chambers (“The King in Yellow”) and H.P. Lovecraft (“The Festival”), European mid-century paintings; somehow, these all breathe within the walls of flesh and metal and wiring of the Signalis lore. And lo, does the lore beg to be taken apart with symbolic and analytical scalpels. I pride myself on my healthy diet of tasteful media and literature. Whatever weird fantasy rose-engine has churning in their witch’s brew, either for this current project or future releases, is welcome on my tasting menu.

I’m hoping rose-engine is able to continue making these chic indie games. Their debut Signalis has impregnable confidence in its eerie tone and shadowy gore, I was pushed to an instant purchase, an accidental, cosmic Christmas gift, I guess. I’m compelled to multiple playthroughs, each one like a dream. I highly recommend this for those looking for a Lovecraftian sci-fi, and I’m looking forward to shelling out cash for my Signalis merch.

Additional reading:

“A commentary on Aya Brea in Victoria Beckham FW2021” for Windhill Journal

“Exploring the resurgence of the low-fi 3D visual style of the PS1 era” by Paul-Walker Emig, for Retro Gamer Magazine

Signalis‘ gorgeous design helped me overcome my fear of horror games” by Noelle Warner, for Destructoid

2 responses to “A review of SIGNALIS, by rose-engine”



  2. […] Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (best cinematography: the setting wins best actor) and my last-reviewed, Signalis, by rose-engine. The kicker here is the point-and-click visual novel game style, and a larger focus on a smaller […]


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