There are genres in the gaming industry that, for one reason or another, are starting to lose relevance to the general public. One of them is graphic adventure, a style that was very popular for players of the 80s and 90s, but which in recent years has begun to leave room for more “cinematic” adventures. Although companies have started to invest less and less in this kind of projects, we have seen some throwbacks, such as the acclaimed Return to Monkey Island. In this situation the boys of Red Martyr Entertainment have decided, through a Kickstarter campaign, to create a work that pays homage to this genre of games, Saint Kotarwhich we cover today in review.
A cursed place
The work tells the story of two men guests in the town of Sveti Kotar, in Croatia. The initial idea is to participate in an annual ritual and get to know the local environment, but soon, as expected, something will happen, and the mysteries of the dark village come to light.
The description of the plot is deliberately generic, given that the developers have created a product strongly focused on his narration. The intent is to allow the user to discover all the twists and turns, as well as the vast cast of characters, in a continuous story that does not want to slow down until the end credits. The strength of the product is therefore linked to yours writing and the world building, through continuous references to religion and to some of the dark moments of humanity. In this sense the content of the product is strongly indicated for a adult audienceboth for the topics covered and for the visual violence of certain sequences.
Alas, the proposed script does not reach the impact desired by the development team. The orchestrated plot certainly manages to keep the curiosity at a good level from start to finish, but the different characters are quite trivial, predictable in actions and in some cases even stereotyped. The general writing has falls, where in certain moments there are repetitions or some pieces not explained properly. The dubbing is even of bad quality, not so much for the skill of the cast as for the quality of the microphones. Not infrequently there are moments where the audio mix is badly calibrated, with the music alternating between being too loud and too quiet. On the localization side, we’re glad the title is also translated into Italian (text only).
The gameplay of Saint Kotar pays homage all the time i point and click. The title comes with the typical camera of the genre, in order to show the surrounding environment, where the user must select a point of interest to activate a dialogue or some kind of event. In this sense it is evident how the console port needed easier commands, given that the points of interest to press are immediately shown. A choice that is certainly understandable for use with console commands, but which undermines that sense of try and error exploration of graphic adventures. In this reissue there is even the free command of playable characters, a choice that is probably ignored by the end user given its practical uselessness and inconvenience.
The major flaw of the production, however, is linked to his own not knowing how to evolve the gameplayas well as a very minimal presence of environmental puzzles to solve.
It seems that Red Martyr Entertainment has put the gameplay aside to focus on the narrative, a choice that certainly makes the work accessible to a large audience, but at the same time a wasted opportunity. The ingenuity of the person is never put to the test, in a story where interactivity seems to be practically placed in the background and a way to lengthen longevity.
Practically, the player is almost never in control of misadventures of Benedek and Nikolay. The time it tries to be more interactive leads to a wasted opportunity, as moral choices often hide some kind of game over and not branches of the main plot.
In all of this we can still say that the exploratory element of Saint Kotar is well done, at least according to our opinion in the review. The curiosity to discover all the buildings, streets and cemeteries of Sveti Kotar is always present, created with a stylistic research of a certain depth. This last element thus allows us to address the side missions, or interactions that allow you to discover the dark secrets of the inhabitants. In this part the title manages to shine, since it is here that the script manages to bring very interesting dynamics.
The Saint Kotar version analyzed in this review is the one for Nintendo Switchreleased after the previous one for PC of 2021. Unfortunately, we must immediately inform that the work done is absolutely insufficient. The title not only presents long uploads but also a series of bugs like the one that makes the dialogues heard at the same time, the screen that remains black, or the dialogues that magically transform from Italian into English.
The real problems, however, are the last few hours of the game, where characters move at less than ten FPS, so much so that it all looks like a collection of photos. In this sense we do not recommend using the previously mentioned free movement, as apparently this is one of the causes of this particular bug. However, the same defect occurs in the sporadic ones CGI cutscenesfor a poorly optimized experience for Nintendo gamers.
These negative performances on Switch, both in portable and at home mode, cannot be explained, seen using Unity it’s a very simple graphics for current technical capabilities. Indeed, in some ways it seems like a “missed title from the past” with low resolution textures, robotic animations, missing scenes and inserted only with a black background, and other such solutions.
The edition in question even features to play the entire product in touch screen. Unfortunately, it must be specified that the commands are not very intuitive, so much so that they do not always work properly. A further shortcoming is that of the Free DLC The Ritual, a prequel story released in October 2022 for the PC edition of Saint Kotar.
Saint Kotar (Tested on Switch)
The Switch edition of Saint Kotar is not currently ready for publication: bugs, frame rate drops, glitches, long loading and other problems slaughter the entire product. The plot is certainly interesting as well as the excellent characterization of the game world but, unfortunately, everything is overshadowed by the poor playability of the console version and by the horrendous optimization. The current hope is to see improvement for the future, but we currently strongly advise against picking up Saint Kotar on Nintendo’s hybrid platform.