Saint Maker: a short religious horror visual novel

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Saint Maker is a horror visual novel that released on February 22, 2023 for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. Developed by Yangyang Mobile, best known for 2017’s The Letter, Saint Maker is the developer’s second horror title, taking the form of a short religious-themed story set in a Christian Church. Just how good is it compared to its exceptional predecessor?

Thank you to Yangyang Mobile for the review code.

Fantastic potential but limited longevity?

Saint Maker

Saint Maker follows the story of Holly Beltran, who attends a religious recollection. Upon setting foot in the convent grounds, she experiences nightmarish ordeals that consist of whispers in the night, waking up paralysed, and statues that seemingly move on their own — all of which point to either paranormal or psychological happenings. Or perhaps even both!

You’ll explore both past and present to piece together the true secrets and the reasons behind Holly’s current misfortune as she discovers what it means to be her best self while overcoming her trauma.

That’s effectively the general gist of Saint Maker without giving too much away. It is a short game, clocking in at barely 5 hours long in my own playtime. This is the complete opposite to The Letter’s rather tricky completion requirements that demanded near on 50 hours to meticulously hunt down and experience.

With Saint Maker, it will likely take just one single replay to unlock all its achievements – though there’s a near-certain guarantee that the majority of players will not make the correct choices to unlock the secret ending on their initial playthrough.

This is therefore quite a small and contained story, with the limited cast featuring only three central characters and the setting mostly confined to the convent — though other locations and backgrounds appear in flashbacks. It is also worth noting just how linear the entire experience is – you will end up with a well rounded story even if you have not experienced the secret ending, making the supposed “choices matter” aspect have very little gravity to it.

Characters trapped in a horror you actually care about!

Saint Maker

Saint Maker is, as one can expect for the genre, a dark game. While it most certainly has a few jump scares, Saint Maker is on the more melancholic side of horror. Being both tragic and depressing, the characters’ struggles take precedence over the scares, and the greatest merits of the title come from these characters’ arcs.

These consist of extremely heavy, personal burdens the core cast carry, explore and grow from. How guilt is dealt with here is remarkably refreshing and poignant. The very best of this can be seen through Holly herself who, depending on how players influence her, can become a strong and commendable person by the end of the game.

It is highly satisfying to see this character’s journey being as emotional as it is. This is topped off with a fulfilling ending where the core theme of abusive cycles is ultimately broken. Alongside an interesting plotline that comes with revelations that are genuinely surprising, and villains who are not all as they appear to be, Saint Maker hits the nail on the head with its messaging: people are the true horrors, rather than the nightmares our own minds can conjure up.

Taking all of this into account, Saint Maker tells a more refined and masterfully focused story compared to The Letter. While The Letter was much stronger in the scares department, it felt bloated in every other way. Saint Maker instead makes a beeline for its finale, dropping seeds along the way that blossom into greater revelations and extremely enjoyable callbacks that, if you don’t catch them first time around, you’ll appreciate on a rerun.

A frightfully ideal design

Saint Maker

The design of Saint Maker deserves high praise for elevating the unnerving atmosphere of it all. Its production values are something to marvel at for the captivating character designs, gorgeously detailed backgrounds and splendid OST. The sound design is especially brilliant, and as the game clearly aims to be as atmospheric as possible, it truly delivers on that front. This is a game well worth playing with your headphones on in the dead of night for the most immersive experience.

The jump scares in the game are few and far between, but are extremely effective. They are not excessive but rather impactful, especially when players will easily feel for the main characters. This makes each of these scenes feel more alarming, because we’re genuinely fearing for the characters’ safety rather than simply jumping due to a loud noise.

The polish of the title is also aided by the attention to detail with its highly animated spritework. CGs even have motion in them. The title is fully voiced in English, and its characters’ lines are all well delivered, especially in the most tense scenes, when the actors’ voices break to really elevate the emotional impact of the dialogue.

Before we wrap up, it is worth noting that there is a yuri subtext to be found in the game, but it is not the focus here and is only briefly suggested — particularly in the secret ending scene, depending on your choices.

I caught very few typos and no bugs or errors in my two playthroughs, making this one of the most polished original English language visual novels I have had the pleasure of playing.


The short runtime may make the game’s asking price of £11.79 seem steep, but everything else about Saint Maker is well and truly worth it. It’s truly a gift to see more indie experiences like this out in the wild, so both visual novel and horror fans alike should give it our full support, attention and praise.

Saint Maker’s design, themes and especially characters make it well worth a shot. It will certainly surprise you one way or another!

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Lilia Hellal
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