Saint Kotar Review: A Slow Burn (PS5)

Saint Kotar is a slow-moving, psychological horror game with point-and-click controls. The air of mystery creates the most suspense, yet despite it's problems, there is an interesting story hidden behind the awkward game-play and complicated puzzles.

Saint Kotar Review A Slow Burn

Saint Kotar is a slow-moving psychological horror game with point-and-click controls. Although there is an interesting story to be told, it is lost with the frustration which can come with awkward gameplay and seemingly unsolvable puzzles. The game is by no means unplayable, yet the constant gloomy environments and dully delivered lines can make even the most invested player switch off. 

Saint Kotar arrived on consoles on the 22nd November, and is available to purchase from $34.99 (£30.99) on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Saint Kotar - Launch Trailer

Story – Dark Mysteries

The events of Saint Kotar take place in the fictional village of Sveti Kotar. Straightaway we join two religious men, one of which is married to the other’s sister. Immediately this creates an interesting tension between the two, especially when they wake up to find Viktoria missing. There is obviously a dark mystery hiding in Sveti Kotar, with characters holding back information due to an unknown fear. 

The story is delivered through long exchanges of dialogue in between characters, being delivered in dulcet tones. The story isn’t bad, however there is no form of ‘logbook’ to keep track of the numerous names and locations mentioned. This made it difficult for me to keep up, allowing the narrative to get lost in its own complexity. 

Gameplay – Awkward

Controls

Aside from the occasional use of haptic feedback, Saint Kotar seems to play the same on console as it would on PC. You control the characters with the analogue stick and press R2 to run, which isn’t much quicker. But this is not the most irksome part of gameplay. Instead of simply walking over to an object and pressing a button to interact, you use the D-Pad to cycle through and then select options. In itself this isn’t a problem, however when added to the already slow paced narrative, it makes playing feel more like a chore as opposed to fun.

Puzzles

The puzzles are the core of the game-play. There are vague hints to the solutions hidden in the dialogue. So if you are unaware of which bits of text are important, these hints may go unheeded. It is a rewarding feeling when having put the pieces together successfully. Yet if anything, it creates more frustration when immediately becoming stuck again. 

Combine items in your inventory to further explore areas.

Combine items in your inventory to further explore areas.

Graphics and Audio – Gloomy 

Graphics

The graphics are consistent throughout- dark and gloomy, with little contrast between locations. While this is fitting for the general atmosphere, I found this lack of differentiation added to the overall slowness of the game. There are some nice effects and ideas throughout, but I would like to have seen a bigger emphasis on details on certain gore aspects. Considering the focus on dialogue in Saint Kotar, it would be nice to see more options available for subtitles. Things such as text boxes and changing size or colour would be a nice addition.

Audio

Lastly, there is nothing striking about the audio choices in Saint Kotar, mainly a foreboding melody occasionally in the background. I understand the difficulty of acting a psychological horror, yet there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm, making a hard to follow story less enjoyable. On the positive side, a strong audio choice was a jump scare moment involving the use of crows and haptic feedback, effectively providing the feeling of overwhelm.  

Saint Kotar was reviewed on PS5, with a key provided by SOEDESCO.

Summary
Despite having a solid story plan, it is hidden behind awkward gameplay and slow paced speech. The game is not unplayable, but it is obvious that this was initially a PC game, with little effort given in creating more fluid controls for console. There is no way of keeping track of the story either. Therefore once you've solved the difficult puzzles, it is easy to have forgotten the relevant names and locations needed to proceed.
Good
  • Detailed, thought out story.
  • Some environments stand out from the rest.
Bad
  • Awkward gameplay.
  • Consistently dull- no contrast in tones.
  • Difficult puzzles.
  • No way to keep up with the lore.
4.5
Poor

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