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Arctic horror Signalis is like The Thing reimagined as a 90s cyberpunk anime

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I've been keeping my eye on Signalis for some time, with developer rose-engine first broadcasting a teaser for the anime horror back in 2018. Tonight, it returned with another brief trailer to kick off the Tribeca Games Spotlight at E3.

Signalis is, pointedly, a throwback to the early Resident Evils and Silent Hills—a fixed-camera thriller staggering through a monster-infested installation. It's even rendered in the kind of low-poly PS1 (opens in new tab) style that's all the rage these days. 

But rose-engine's style is all its own, even as it lifts from the greats. A deeply horrific, unsettling thriller set in a barren arctic compound immediately evoking The Thing. The use of analogue tech also recalls Alien Isolation (opens in new tab) and old mecha shows. Broken UI and scenes that flick between broad pixel-art and cinematic angles lend everything a real sense of instability—all soundtracked by the gentle piano melodies of Chopin's Raindrop prelude.

Of course, it's also got the good old tension of trying to shunt a character around a room with clunky controls while a flailing terror with a leg for a face writhes and lashes towards you. Screens flash red with minimalist UIs that scream "compartmentalising trauma". Snow lashes against the windows of a downed ship, and blood stains a tunnel you simply cannot avoid descending.

It is a vibe, and I am entirely here for it.

Rose-engine developers Alexander Zwerger & Barbara Wittmann have been working on Signalis since at least 2014, and the pair still aren't quite ready to set this horror loose quite yet. But when they do, you'll be able to catch it over on Steam (opens in new tab).

Natalie Clayton
Natalie Clayton

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.