Sanguine Sanctum

It demands blood. It demands nourishment. Feed it. Let it consume. Feed it, feed It, feed It…

Sanguine Sanctum is a horror game by Modus Interactive. I’ve previously played a bunch of their stuff before and they left a good impression, so I was excited to delve into this one.

There isn’t exactly a clear story, but you have a clear goal: you must feed It. It sits in the hub room, initially as a pool of blood, but you must see It grow. And to do so, you must travel into the different worlds accessed through the hub to gather Offerings to bestow upon It.

It’s a low-fi PS1 aesthetic game, as to be expected from Modus Interactive’s past works. Now, I forget if it was in the past games, but Sanguine Sanctum does something neat with its aesthetic in that its textures move as you do, which gives this really cool impression of the world shifting and morphing around you, much like the amorphous blob you’re feeding. While it could be somewhat nauseating (especially a certain water surface toward the end), it’s a really nice look that contributes to the “off-ness” of the setting.

Sanguine Sanctum‘s horror is focused on atmosphere instead of flat-out scares. It takes you to such places as weird flesh tunnels and a decayed city, whilst also giving you more fantastical areas that look like Bowser in the Sky nonsense like the stuff of OK/NORMAL. And while the latter type of areas isn’t as outwardly creepy as the former, the mood is maintained by the shifting textures, the sound design and small touches (such as a little, whispering ghost tailing you during one segment).

Playing this game, it reminded me a whole lot of another game I played: Yume Nikki. That game is classified as a horror game (though personally I don’t consider it as one) and it manages to achieve that in RPG Maker through a strong sense of atmosphere, combining creepy settings like the forest area and more fantastical areas like the Pink Sea. With collecting objects in each world as an overall goal and no outright threats or jump scares, it feels like what I would have wanted out of Yume Nikki: Dream Diary, a supposedly official reimagining that failed to deliver.

Collecting the Offerings is a straightforward task, as these worlds are linear for the most part. Give them to It, watch It grow, look for more for it to consume. After getting all the ones that are initially available however, you’re presented with the new goal of finding keys to advance to a new set of worlds. Unlike the Offerings, these ones are a bit more esoteric to find, encouraging you to poke around in the worlds to see what’s up. And thankfully, the worlds aren’t too big, so you hopefully won’t be wandering forever to look for this stuff.

For what it is, Sanguine Sanctum does a good job at being a PS1-esque horror experience and is personally the 3D Yume Nikki game I would have wanted. If you’re into these kinds of games, I heartily recommend it, and if you got that itch.io Racial Justice bundle like everyone I know, you already have it, so you may as well check it out.

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