Tenebris Somnia is an 8-bit horror adventure with a flashy twist

Some would say the best way to wind down after a rough day down the Content Reactors isn’t to play a grotty occult horror game, but I caught a trailer for Tenebris Somnia earlier, and couldn’t help myself. In this foetid offering from Argentinian devs Andrés Borghi and Tobías Rusjan of Saibot Studios, you play a young woman, Julia, who is visiting her film-maker ex-boyfriend to drop off their old apartment key. Julia’s having a hard time getting over the break-up, but she’s clearly doing better than her ex: his apartment is full of broken glass, anomalous red gloop and creepy occult books.

The game’s twist is that it’s two visual styles thrust into the same frame. On the one hand, you’ll explore an 8-bit world of unpleasantly bright colours, finding and combining objects adventure-game-style (I say adventure-game-style, because this is a bit more energetic than most adventure games – you can equip and swing a wrench, and there’s a run button). On the other hand, well. Click the headline to find out, if you dare. Yes, this is me trying to do a jumpscare. Brace yourself!

Image credit: Saibot Studios

Yep, the game’s 8-bit sections are interspersed with professionally shot and acted live-action sequences. Boo! The immediate question this raises for me is: which visual approach is spookier? Frankly, I find that 8-bit shadow behind the shower curtain a lot more alarming than the movie stuff, but I’m enjoying the hybrid style nonetheless. It makes me think of the good old days of the FMV. I’m also enjoying the monsters, who wouldn’t seem out of place in Hellraiser.

You can try the Tenebris Somnia demo out for yourself on Steam. Here’s a trailer, for those who’d rather not get their wrenches dirty.

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