Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Holstin
Holstin is set in a Polish town in 1992, overrun by a mysterious fungal outbreak. Not only are massive undulating tendrils emerging from the ground, but the townspeople are being driven mad at best, and mutated into zombies at worst. You play as Tomasz, a man searching for his missing friend who must search through this hellscape of a city, finding the supplies to fend off the creatures, and interacting with the locals who are neither helpful nor sane.
It’s not too uncommon for a game to blend genres. Whether it’s a walking-sim with some light melee combat or a shooter that has survival horror elements, lots of games fall somewhere in between. So what is it about Holstin that makes it unique?
The gameplay of Holstin is half isometric Silent Hill style exploration and half Resident Evil style combat. But the interesting thing about the combat sections is that the game remains isometric until you aim when it snaps to an over-the-shoulder third-person shooter. The transition is so fast and smooth, the combat so intense and requires quick thinking and correct positioning, it’s a remarkable achievement in creating something that feels novel. And more importantly, feels scary.
The Holstin demo, as I said, has two distinct parts. The first half is exploring a house, which can only be safely navigated by turning on the lights to scare away the tendrils, which requires a bit of exploration and problem-solving. The latter half is exploring a long corridor, fighting your way through zombies (some of which have The Thing style abilities), and trying to find as many nails and gunpowder as you can to survive.
Just about everything in Holstin is executed with perfection. From the visually upsetting nature of the tendrils to the seamless and terrifying combat in narrow corridors against tough enemies, to the sound design and overall atmosphere of terror, this demo is a masterpiece. This Polish studio’s game is, for lack of a better term, very well polished.
This is a demo and states at the beginning that this gameplay area may not make it into the final product. As such, any complaints I have should be taken with a grain of salt. In my opinion, the combat area shown in the Holstin demo seemed pretty lackluster. For the most part it was a straight corridor, with only a few side rooms for scrounging up supplies. I figure this is just to show off the gameplay a bit. Since the house area was incredibly detailed, I have no reason to doubt that the rest of the game will have far more interesting area design.
It seems strange that innovations in basic aspects are still being discovered. To simply go from an isometric to a third-person shooter almost seems so basic it’s almost obvious, but unless I am mistaken, Holstin is the only game I can think of that so seamlessly executes this concept. To execute everything else with masterful skill too will make this a fantastic game.
You can try out the demo for Holstin on Steam by clicking here.