This Polish pixel horror game is breaking the laws of camera physics in an awesome way

Holstin screenshot
(Image credit: Sonka)

Holstin is an upcoming indie horror-adventure game set in eastern Poland in the early 1990s. A small town has been beset by a "calamity" that's engulfing all it touches—people and property alike—and for some reason it's fallen to you to discover what happened to your missing friend Bartek, why he travelled to this strange place, and what sort of wretched horror has overcome it.

It sounds like a fairly straightforward setup as these things go: Scavenge supplies, solve puzzles, deal with the locals (at least some of whom aren't quite right in the head), and when things get out of hand, apply violence as required. The mostly third-person perspective (more on that later) and the pixellated visual style gives Holstin a distinctly retro look, but dynamic lighting and a fully 3D environment makes the overall presentation much more modern and immersive.

(Image credit: Sonka)

From the Steam page:

Something is very wrong in the town of Jeziorne-Kolonia. Explore an eerie, isolated 90’s Polish town that has been consumed by something wretched. The streets are overrun by some kind of filthy slime. The people, the buildings, and the wildlife all seem to be slowly deteriorating from the inside. You need to find your lost friend and get out before this town sinks its claws into you too.

What really caught our eyes, though, is the way Holstin transitions from the god's-eye view to an over-the-shoulder view for combat. It's weird, and I feel like it shouldn't work, yet somehow it seems like it does. It's quick and smooth, and not at all visually jarring—if anything, it reminds me a little bit of the famous Max Payne reload spin, in the way that it's not disorienting even though it so obviously should be.

Check it out:

(Image credit: Sonka)

Developer Sonka shared an even better look at the point-and-click to point-and-shoot transition on Twitter earlier this week. That is one extremely effective AK:

I don't know how much of a role combat is going to play in Holstin. There's a playtest build available on Steam but it's focused primarily on showcasing the environmental puzzles and "oozing atmosphere." A combat demo was supposed to be available sometime in Q2 of 2023 but that's obviously not going to happen (we're in Q3 now) and a more expansive, non-linear demo is expected to follow later this year. 

I've reached out to the developers to ask if a new launch target for those demos has been set. In the meantime, speaking of launches, a release date for Holstin hasn't been set but it's available for wishlisting now on Steam.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.