Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel, the review of a conservative and fascinating survival horror


Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel, the review of a conservative and fascinating survival horror
Written by aquitodovale

The review of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel, a variant of the usual PT clones, inspired by Resident Evil and Outlast.

A creepy hotel, hidden monsters on the lower floors, heart-pounding exploration to understand exactly what needs to be done to continue the adventure – there are some evergreen features in horror titles. And while it is true that the small but intense PT demo has almost created a whole strand of its own within the genre – the latest representatives of which are Visage and the very recent MADiSON – no one can deny the importance of a well-rounded model. eldest: that sacred monster named Resident Evil. In a context where independent horror films all too often resemble each other (or all resemble the corridors of PT) and still show very few creative flashes, every little exception represents a breath of fresh air.

This is also the case with Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotela survival horror developed by a small Brazilian team (Pulsatrix Studios) and published by Maximum Games, which evidently immediately sensed its potential. The paradox: Phobia is not really new either, because it recycles practically every mechanic from Resident Evil 7. However, in addition to putting their own, the developers have kept in mind, for once, a different model from the one indicated by Kojima and in recent years overused, thus obtaining a sort of innovation that is actually a very effective rediscovery of a certain way of understanding the genre.

In review of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel we will try to explain if the survival horror in question is for you or not. We have omitted spoilers of any kind, so as not to spoil your possible experience with darkness.

Plot: haunted hotels and gas masks

The environments of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel are all very fascinating

There plot di Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel is divided into three different timelines: 1920, 1960 and the 2000s. This is an original and intriguing first element, as the player begins his adventure in the past (the 1960s) when a private investigator finds himself investigating a mysterious cult that has settled in a remote town, until he becomes the last one himself. victim.

It will be killed by a singular creature, a sort of mutant with a gigantic claw in place of an arm; and already here it is easy to trace an evident suggestion of Resident Evil, in the figure of the Nemesis. However, this bustle between the different historical periods will not be too invasive, apart from a couple of other sequences set in the early twentieth century, useful not only to partially change the entire style of play, but also to shed light on the events that led to the situation. current.

Some areas of Phobia - St. Dinfna Hotel are more disturbing than others
Some areas of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel are more disturbing than others

Almost all of the main adventure takes place instead in the namesake hotel, where things are definitely not going as they should. Shortly after his arrival, in fact, the journalist Roberto Leite Lopes finds himself in complete solitude, in an environment with a drastically changed appearance: everything is dilapidated or on fire, the light is only available in some rooms, and strange creatures have taken the control of the lower floors. As if that weren’t enough, every now and then a little girl wearing a gas mask peeps out, apparently harmless but still very disturbing. Lopes certainly did not expect any of this, even though he reached the hotel precisely to investigate the alleged disappearances of the local population and certain paranormal phenomena reported in the area.

Will the unfortunate protagonist be able to solve the mystery of the hotel? What is the mysterious cult known as Il Sentiero, whose headquarters would be located in the basement of the structure? Where did the monsters come from, and how are they related to the little girl? Although the narrative cues show clear parallels with the plot of Resident Evil 7 (not the house but a hotel, not the Bakers but the cultists, and then again the unknown aide on the other end of the phone, the creepy little girl, etc.) development team has come up with a coherent, interesting and not without surprises story. Precisely that “knowing how it ends” will be one of the main stimuli that will spur you to continue, when you no longer know where to turn your head to continue from one floor to the other of the hotel.

Gameplay: camera and firearms

Without using the camera, you will go a short distance into Phobia - St. Dinfna Hotel
Without using the camera, you will go a short distance into Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel

The formula proposed by the developers for Phobia is “explore, solve puzzles and survive”, and perfectly sums up the playful proposal of the survival horror in question. The player, first of all, finds himself a to explore the hotel floor by floor, gaining access slowly even to areas initially blocked, by finding magnetic cards, crowbars, keys and so on. However, the progression is not linear and involves a very intense backtracking, thanks to the absence of a real map of the individual floors and of the structure as a whole.

Occasionally some safe areas, where you can save your progress (via the grandfather clock) as well as add and delete items from your inventory (with shared content chests). Overall, the cases in which we find ourselves wandering without reference points are not uncommon, even if in any case some small clues would like to direct at least towards the plane of interest at that particular moment of exploration.

The funny creatures of Phobia - St. Dinfna Hotel (and there is no shortage of real bosses)
The funny creatures of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel (and there is no shortage of real bosses)

The gameplay, however, it does not end in the mere walk between rooms. The presence of a camera capable of interacting with the surrounding environment makes everything more interesting: for reasons that will be clarified during the narration, the instrument is able to bring back in time, thus modifying the objects present in the surrounding or opening unexpected passages. That is, it is possible that a room simply constitutes a dead end; but looking through the lens, a gap in the wall appears instead, so that you can continue. Fortunately, it is not necessary to recall the camera from the inventory every three by two completely at random, because there are specific marks (the black imprint of a hand) on the walls or on objects that require its use. Here the suggestion clearly no longer comes from Resident Evil, but from another great horror of the last decade, the Outlast series.

The puzzles of Phobia - St. Dinfna Hotel constitute the most successful aspect of the entire production
The puzzles of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel constitute the most successful aspect of the entire production

Two more elements combine to better define the offer of Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel: the firefights and the puzzles. The former are perhaps the least convincing aspect of the entire production, not so much for the banality of the weapons themselves (a pistol, a shotgun, a machine gun) and not even for their characteristics (recoil, damage, dispersion and much more. can be upgraded through upgrades) but due to enemies. The dark creatures that haunt the hotel will do nothing but go about their business, motionless in place, ready to attack you only if you come within a whisker of their face; it goes without saying that it will therefore be possible to eliminate them calmly at a safe distance.

Even when they attack, however, both they and the bosses do not show who knows what intelligence: most of the time they deliver lethal blows simply in the void or against the walls. The situation definitely improves with the puzzles, always intelligent, satisfying and also very numerous compared to any other title belonging to the genre. Especially in this aspect, the developers have literally unleashed their imagination.


Tested version PlayStation 5

Digital Delivery

Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store

€ 29.99

Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel is a valid and interesting survival horror, with a captivating plot, with successful and satisfying puzzles, with a non-linear but well-balanced progression. Even the technical sector on PlayStation 5 proved to be perfectly solid, apart from some graphic uncertainty in the short sequences that take place outside the hotel structure. In itself, the promotion is a must, as well as the purchase is recommended, because Fobia has convinced the writer much more than the recent MADiSON and Visage. The main “problems” are two, or perhaps only one, because in the end the first may not constitute an obstacle for the reader at all. First of all, Phobia is really a derivative survival horror: echoes and casts directed by Resident Evil, Outlast and who knows how many other horror are evident everywhere. Secondly, the combat system should be drastically revised, as the whole is a bit woody and meaningless; just think of creatures that attack only if you are within an inch of their nose, or whatever olfactory organ they have in its place. But for everything else, Phobia – St. Dinfna Hotel convinces, and we invite you to give it a chance.


  • Interesting and partly original plot
  • There is all the charm of the “old school”
  • Clever and rewarding puzzles


  • Artificial intelligence of enemies not received
  • Bite-free boss battles
  • Sometimes really too derivative

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