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

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 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 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.

Natalie Clayton

A one-time dog sledder, pancake flipper, alien wrangler and indie darling, Nat now scours the internet looking for the hottest PC gaming news. Destined to become Scotland's first Battlemech pilot.