I Really Wished I Liked This
Before diving into the review, I want to be upfront and say that the publisher sent me a review copy of their game, Saint Maker, so I didn’t pay for this one. You’ll also see that this had no bearing on the actual outcome of the review because I… well, I don’t recommend it sadly. If for some reason you do want to get the game, you can do so over on Steam for $13.99 USD. With that said, let’s jump right into our look at Saint Maker, a horror visual novel by Yangyang mobile.
What’s it About?
As one might expect from a horror visual novel, the premise of the game sees our main character, Holly taking part in a “recollection” at a far away convent after some sort of incident at home. Religious settings are often excellent set pieces for horror stories, which is why I decided to check the game out. It was an added bonus that the game was fully voiced with a unique style (that is admitably somewhat ugly at times, but works well enough).
The actual story itself revolves around a deepening mystery as Holly uncovers the convents unscrupulous history. There aren’t a ton of characters, the main ones being a girl named Gabriella (Gabby) and the head Sister, Adira. You spend your time jumping between Holly and Adira, fleshing out two sides of what are essentially the same story but with different perspectives.
It’s what comes of this where things get complicated…
Before I dive into that though, let’s talk about what the game does right. The first is the production, it is nicely produced with a level of professional polish I wasn’t expecting from what I had assumed to be an indie developer. Once I looked into them a bit more, I saw they’ve actually made a few titles which even included a prior horror game called The Letter which was met with positive reception.
When you couple that with the setting, as I mentioned, it was easy for the game to make a solid first impression. As I played for the first two hours, it delivered on those expectations as well with only a few minor grumbles we’ll get to in a moment. Generally speaking though, the voice acting is well done along with the visuals.
In terms of story, it too is quite excellent when you look at what it’s ultimately saying. Notice that I didn’t say that the narrative as executed is great because it isn’t. That said, I would be wrong to not look past that and try to see what they were going for here because it does check all the boxes. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “horror” story, but it is a great exploration of faith, grief, and other themes that a lot of people are sure to identify with.
Sadly, this is where my praise ends. The first sign of trouble was when Saint Maker started asking me to make choices for Holly. I was playing with K at the Movies (check out their playthrough of a different horror game here), and we decided to roleplay the character a certain way only to discover that our choices didn’t matter. This trend would continue to be a (mostly) constant theme throughout the entire 9 hour playthrough. I mention K because without him I would not have finished this game, a sentiment we both ultimately walked away with.
As we went deeper into the story, we broke up our playthrough across three sessions. Our first two hour session was decently positive aside from the choices clearly not mattering, but we decided to treat this more like a movie from there on out. No big deal. Session two clocked in at a little over three hours and started to sour the experience. Why? To put it plainly, it kept repeating itself. Repeating itself over and over. It just kept repeating itself. Like that, repeating, over and over. You get my point.
During this time we were also disappointed that nothing really “scary” happened outside of one moment. That one moment was something I learned we could miss entirely and only kind of cool as opposed to scary. Kind of a bummer as this is billed as horror. Even then, we were invested in the story and wanted to see how it played out.
The main driver for this is Holly’s dream segments where we learn about her home life, which later turns into some revelations about what is happening at the convent. At least, that’s what I’d like to say except, remember that whole repeating thing? These are where the story is at its absolute worst when it comes to that. We see the same scene so much with no meaningful alterations, or when it does deviate, the story has committed a different sin in already having told the player the information in a different scene.
So what? For the folks in back not paying attention, this might not be a big deal. However, if you put the game on auto and play as intended, this results in a story that is severely bloated. If it had been a nice 3-4 hour game, I would have been fairly satisfied, but remember we played as recommended, and it took 9 hours… That’s just too long for a story that is, at its core, pretty straightforward and simple.
It doesn’t help that we play several scenes again as Adira, who is probably the game’s best character. I liked these segments except for, and you guessed it, all the repeated information. Don’t show me a scene with no real changes from another POV if what Adira brings to the table is maybe a singular line of inner monologue. Again, bloated.
While we are on complaints, I do have to mention that the voice actors absolutely kill it but the editing butchers any performance they give. Gabby’s VA sounds like she’s recording from across the room on a tin can randomly throughout the game while both Adira and Holly have extended screaming/crying segments where they just let that go on for unbroken MINUTES at a time. No joke, we timed one segment and it lasted nearly two and a half minutes. That’s absurd, no matter how good the actual performance is.
Speaking of, a tip about screaming and crying. Don’t over do it. Yes, those are obviously too long as singular moments in the story, but if you have your characters experiencing extreme emotions like this (and often)… The impact gets lost–fast. It happens here in Saint Maker quite a bit and it hurts the overall quality quite a bit. Otherwise, we experienced a few minor bugs, like the game getting stuck while in auto a few times, but they weren’t a big deal.
Saint Maker has a lot of good ideas presented in a nice package but the experience is bloated. I quickly grew bored of the constant repetition and lack of meaningful choice in my visual novel game here too. That’s a deadly combination that murders any real recommendation I’d give to an otherwise great story. I can only hope that the creators learn their lesson here and edit their next work more carefully, because they clearly have talent. Maybe if the game was $13.99 USD I could see myself saying you could give it a go if you were curious, but it just costs too much for what you get at the end of the day.
Even so, if you do check it out, there are some highlights to the game. Atmospherically speaking, it does a lot of things right and Adira is a stellar character both in writing and vocal performance. Can’t stress enough that Saint Maker has merit, I simply can’t recommend it personally given that I was bored and found the story to be overtold when it could have easily been trimmed down by several hours. I am curious about their other games though, so I might come back for an older title or for whatever they do next.
That’ll do it for this quick review folks. Have you played Saint Maker? Have a horror game recommendation you’d like to see K and I play over on YouTube perhaps? Let me know in the comments below. If you like the work I’m doing, consider a donation via the buttons below as well. Until next time, take it easy and don’t forget to look behind you 😉
2 thoughts on “Saint Maker – About 6 Hours too Long…”
Maybe the real saints were the unedited audio clips we made along the way.
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Lol, for sure XD