This Is The Zodiac Speaking – Review
Follow Genre: Mystery thriller-horror adventure
Developer: Punch Punk Games
Publisher: Klabater
Platform: Switch, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Switch

This Is The Zodiac Speaking – Review

Site Score
Good: Superb premise, Great voice acting
Bad: Lackluster gameplay
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Since the dawn of time people have been fascinated with murders and those that commit them. Serial killers in particular have always been a scary concept and when they go uncaught that only adds to the mystery. The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer active in America in the 60s and 70s who got famous for sending multiple letters to the press and police filled with indecipherable riddles. With This Is The Zodiac Speaking, Punch Punk Games gives us their own interpretation of these horrible murders in the form of a first-person mystery thriller. As it’s based on real-life events, the concept takes plenty of creative liberties to come together into one game.


This Is The Zodiac Speaking follows Robert Hartnell, a journalist heavily involved in the Zodiac Killer’s case. With the help of the opening cutscene and a playable prologue, we learn Robert used to be personally in contact with the Zodiac and even met him once, blaming himself for not stopping the murders when he had the chance. Now Robert is haunted both by his guilt regarding these events and his disturbing childhood memories, driving him to find more clues behind the unsolved case and his own past. With the help of a psychiatrist, Robert tries ‘live dreaming’ to revisit the scenes of the crime and discover the truth.


The visuals used in This Is The Zodiac Speaking are quite interesting. The low poly graphics are covered with a grainy filter to match the 70s setting. It gives the entire game the feeling that you’re watching it on an old tv with VCR, which is a really unique touch. Sometimes the cutscenes can be a bit visual effect heavy, but overall the game looks really good. The simpler, less realistic design of both the characters and environments helps the focus remain on the story the game is trying to tell.


In terms of music, This Is The Zodiac Speaking can be a bit of a mixed bag. While some tracks are excellent at capturing the ominous atmosphere of the game, others start getting on your nerves pretty quickly. The chase music, in particular, grows stale very quickly and you’ll be hearing it a lot because being chased is not a rare occurrence. When the music wants to be emotional, it can make that work, but sometimes it just feels a bit too much. However, there is full voice acting in the game – including the option to have most letters or documents read to you out loud – which is really expertly done for an indie title and delivers solid performances from all the cast.


This Is The Zodiac Speaking is a mystery thriller-horror adventure with some stealth elements thrown in. Most of the gameplay focuses either on sneak mechanics or pretty simple puzzle solving. Playing as Robert Hartnell, it is up to you to enter your own dreams to return to the scenes of the murders and figure out exactly how the Zodiac disposed of his victims. These areas are surprisingly big, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the sense that they’re fun to explore at the start, but a curse since the clues you need to find are usually just random items connected to the murder. Finding these items can be a pain in the ass when you’re not sure where to look.

To make this task even harder, the Zodiac won’t be content leaving you alone even in your own dream. He relentlessly pursues you should he see you, so staying hidden and sneaking around the map will be the safest bet. If you’re spotted, you can try to make a run for it with your limited stamina and if you succeed in breaking the killer’s line of sight he might just give up on chasing you. Simply putting distance between yourself and him won’t always help though, as the Zodiac has an annoying tendency to teleport across the map. He also sometimes seems to spot you even when you hide, but the game is still getting patched so this issue hopefully will be fixed soon.

For those that prefer a more laidback experience, there is the option to play the game in a special story mode that removes the threat of the Zodiac and allows you to focus solely on the clue finding. Once you do find all the clues, you will be tasked with a puzzle of putting the events that happened in the right order they occurred. The game does have multiple endings, dependent on a multitude of choices you can make along the way that alter the story somewhat. It adds a small sense of replay-ability since the game itself can be completed in a few hours tops.


This Is The Zodiac Speaking has an intriguing premise, though it somewhat fails on delivery. While the story is fine, it’s nothing groundbreaking, and even the stellar voice acting and great 70s visual aesthetic can’t save the rather aggravating stealth parts and too big maps from becoming just slightly too annoying. If you enjoy True Crime however this might be right up your alley.

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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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This Is The Zodiac Speaking - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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