Twenty minutes. Thatâ€™s how long it took us to play through this space shuttle-based survival horror. Youâ€™d think that a game as short as this would be impossible to recommend, but thatâ€™s not the case. At 80 MSP it’s about the same price as a Cornetto, and is just as delectable.
The crew of the titular space shuttle have launched an SOS distress signal, and so armed with just a torch and some noisy breathing apparatus youâ€™re sent to investigate. Visually itâ€™s remarkably accomplished – it starts with a short CGI intro, which we think is a possible first for an Xbox Indie title, while the lighting effects help to establish a sense of atmosphere from the outset.
Tension comes from whenever you have to turn the torch off to swap tools, thus plunging the intrepid rescuer into darkness. It can be especially nerve racking upon hearing the sounds of the former crew shuffling around in the distance. Letâ€™s just say that donâ€™t provide the warmest of welcomes upon your arrival.
Computer terminals provide access to other areas of the ship, although not until you’ve cracked a code or figured out a password first. One or two passwords require some educated guesswork, forcing you to pay close attention to the crew’s personal belongings left scattered around. It’s a pleasing touch.
Itâ€™s also from the computer terminals that audio logs can be played back. These explain what occurred on-board Saturn 9 and fill in the back story. The quality of voice-acting is commendable, putting even a few recent games to shame.
As you descend further into the ship oxygen supplies come stricken – the main character chokes and staggers as you try and find another oxygen tank in a panic-ridden state. Itâ€™s during these sequences that a few psychological effects occur that are very reminiscent of those seen in the GameCube classic Eternal Darkness. We wonâ€™t spoil it for you, but thereâ€™s one that will more than likely raise either a grin or an eyebrow. Or both, we suppose.
Would we have liked Saturn 9 to be a longer lasting experience? Certainly, although that would have increased the chances of it overstaying its welcome – claustrophobic tunnels can only remain interesting for so long. Nevertheless, we were left wanting more and thatâ€™s not something you can say about every game.
Small but perfectly formed, Saturn 9 is more than worthy of twenty minutes of your time.