Review: Saint Maker

Posted 23 February 2023 by Zoey Handley
Saint Maker Header

Sacrilege, you say?

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When it was released in 2021, Perfect Gold was something of a surprise to me. It was a yuri visual novel that I connected with, even though I’ve never exactly had any relatable experiences. Perfect Gold was earnest, honest, and sweet. It was a story of people who shared a romance, not about a romance between two people.

So, I kept the developer, Yangyang Mobile, earmarked to watch out for. I believe they were, at the time, already working on Saint Maker, and I didn’t know what to respect. As it turns out, we have a different genre, different themes, and a different writer, but the same earnestness tucked away inside.

I’ll take it.

Saint Maker Meaty Mary
Screenshot by Destructoid

Saint Maker (PC, Switch)
Developer: Yangyang Mobile
Publisher: Yangyang Mobile
Released: February 22nd, 2023
MSRP: $13.99

If you’re an awful person like me, you’re probably asking how much lesbian we’re in for this time around. The answer is some, but it’s not a central theme to Saint Maker. This isn’t romance, it’s horror.

In particular, it’s horror based around the Christian faith. Saint Maker follows Holly Beltran as she goes to spend her summer at a recollection for girls. When she gets there, she finds an unbalanced and hostile nun, and a rebellious teen who makes her disdain for the whole deal rather clear. What starts off as uncomfortable turns horrifying as the two girls start seeing supernatural visions and begin to learn of Saint Idelora’s convent.

Saint Maker is a relatively linear visual novel. There are some choices to make, but sometimes the game will make it obvious that you didn’t actually have a choice. It seems that some of the selections will result in additional or different scenes. The developer advertises a “secret” ending scene depending on your choices, and I’m not sure I got that. Maybe? It’s a complete story without it, anyway.

Oh no, she’s hot

If there’s one thing to be thankful for, it’s that Saint Maker doesn’t waste a lot of time. The game takes 4-6 hours to get through and is advertised at 60,000 words. Outside of some flashbacks, it takes place entirely within the convent. It introduces the characters, hints at their deeper issues, then starts them off on their development.

While Saint Maker is focused on themes of religious trauma, it has more to say about the people involved than it does on Christianity as a whole. People are hell. They may use religion to seek answers, give themselves directions, and bury their insecurities, but it’s not necessarily faith that’s provided as the problem. At least not explicitly. There’s a supernatural element to it that relates more to the challenges the characters face than it does to Christianity itself. It feels more like the story is focused on the seemingly endless cycle of abuse, and while religion plays into it in this case, it’s the people that are the problem.

But is it scary? That’s going to depend on your sensitivities, but I’d say no. Of course, I’m fortunate enough to feel that religious trauma is not one of the emotional weights I carry with me, so your own experiences may change things. There is certainly one scene that I found shocking, there is some grotesque imagery, and it definitely made me feel reasonably uncomfortable at times, but I never found it particularly scary.

Not any more than people normally do in actuality, I mean. Other humans keep me in a perpetual state of horror.

Saint Maker Bloody Hands
Screenshot by Destructoid

Hell is other people

Part of the problem is that I found the story beats to be a bit too predictable. This is primarily a problem with the all-encompassing narrative. The character arcs themselves are more compelling and handled better, which seems to be the primary focus, but the plot itself just unravels in some rather expected ways.

I’m also not a tremendous fan of the art. It’s not necessarily the characters or backgrounds that are a problem; it’s the fact that so much is left up to the sound design and animation. Any physical violence is done just by shaking the screen, and this can leave things unclear as to what is happening. It’s not so ambiguous that I wasn’t able to put things together in my mind, but the visuals don’t do their share of the storytelling.

The voice-acting is fine. I wouldn’t go much further than that. I was afraid that it would be filled with a lot of horrified screaming, but the actresses managed to convey the terror without it being agitating. Likewise, the main character’s voice is filled with the right amount of uncertainty, sorrow, and quavering nervousness. My only issue is that it sometimes doesn’t sound quite natural, but it gets the job done.

Saint Maker Last Supper
Screenshot by Destructoid

Golden idol

Saint Maker isn’t a new Perfect Gold for me. The two visual novels are different enough that they’re only barely comparable, but I just found it doesn’t demonstrate the same level of skill. Regardless of how the two titles stack up, I still very much enjoyed Saint Maker. Most of that admiration comes from how intricately stacked its themes and characters are. It has a lot to say, and it says it well.

I’ll be continuing to keep my eye on Yangyang Mobile. I don’t have any specific expectations for what I want to see from them. I’m mostly just interested in where they go next.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

7

Good

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.

About The Author
Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.
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