The Signifier (PC) Review

By Athanasios 27.10.2020

Review for The Signifier on PC

There have been countless video games where you play the detective, and no matter how otherworldly their setting can be, most of them are pretty traditional when it comes to the actual snooping around. Even in a story of Lovecraftian horror, or Sci-fi madness, usually you are searching around for clues in the real world, no matter how bizarre the surrounding might be. With The Signifier things take a turn for the surreal, as players essentially enter the brain to find what they need. As expected, things can get quite weird once in - fun, though?

A death of a high-ranking employee of the tech giant GO-AT sends the protagonist of this tale down the rabbit hole that is the very brain of the victim; in other words, through an AI called EVEE, he enters her scanned memories, with the purpose of finding who killed her and why. Doing so transports the player in quite the surreal world, with the simulation of what's inside the brain being pretty darn good, with something as simple as apartment turning into a dreamy (or nightmarish) place.

While using the so-called Dreamwalker, what you'll see will be fragmented, blurred, imprecise, and full of "noise." The trip gets even weirder when one chooses to travel deeper into the subconscious in order to get a different perspective on a certain scene. As an example, whereas the 'Objective' state shows things in a realistic matter, in 'Subjective' symbolism is prevalent, so a girl being in pain in Objective, turns into a bed full of spider webs in Subjective, showing the emotional state of a person's memories.

Screenshot for The Signifier on PC

The visuals are only one half of the equation, the other one being the plot that slowly unfolds as the protagonist tries to get to the bottom of things, unravelling a conspiracy that revolves around the ethics and ramifications of brain scanning technology and singularity-level AI while at it, while also paying a visit to the disturbing things one can hide within him or herself. The narrative is supplemented through some subtle world-building with the use of newspaper articles and short dialogue sequences, which are well-written, if only a bit too monotone when it comes to the voice-acting.

Sadly, strip The Signifier away of its unique atmosphere and concept, and what's left is a walking simulator that just happens to be a bit better than the rest of its ilk. The - purposely - slow pace isn't an issue. Genre fans are no strangers to that. The problem is that this is basically a non-immersive search-the-hotspot kind of experience, and one with a relatively strong lack of direction that has players searching around to find what "clue" to click on in order to trigger the next scene, or unlock an additional piece of memory. Moreover, if expecting typical point-and-click gameplay, you'll be disappointed.

At its simplest, this needs picking up a broken piece of memory and placing it on the right spot, or clicking on the right memory to open up new parts to visit, only to do so again, and again. At its "hardest" it requires a little bit of experimenting, whether that's walking backwards in a never-ending corridor, or moving a slider around to fix a scrambled image or perspective… but it's all boring, tedious work that has the main hero going back and forth between the two brain modes, clicking at things and hoping for the best. Long story short, the premise is cool, the execution is sadly not.

Screenshot for The Signifier on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Behind The Signifier's exciting façade, lies an unexciting walking sim. The story is pretty interesting despite its flaws, and the simulation of the trip to one's memories looks great despite the low budget used, but the actual gameplay just doesn't cut it, mainly because players won't really have to think much, and instead just go through the necessary motions required to move on, repeating the process for a couple of hours.

Developer

Playmestudio

Publisher

Raw Fury

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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