In Saturnalia, you can control up to four characters, each of whom exist outside the traditional societal mores of Gravoi. Geologist Anita came to the town on behalf of corporate interests, but soon found herself wrapped up in an illicit affair with the town sacristan. Paul was born in Gravoi, but departed as a child after the mysterious deaths of his birth parents; now, he returns to try and discover their fates. Sergio was exiled from Gravoi as a young man when his benefactor, the lord of the village, was revealed to be his lover, coming back now to care for his ailing father. And Claudia, the precocious punk-rocking teen, lives in defiance of everything her hometown stands for—but her family history holds a terrible truth.
Each of them must confront the secrets of the past and the horrors of the present if they have any hope of escaping Gravoi alive. You must alternate between your protagonists, utilizing their unique skills or even teaming them up to pool their resources. The phone booths scattered throughout Gravoi allow for “fast travel”, creating quick connections between playable characters, but there are no markers or compasses in Saturnalia. You must learn the layout from signs and local landmarks, discovering shortcuts and secret passages that connect different parts of the village and its surrounding area.
The mind-map menu collects and organizes these discoveries, grouping together important clues and detailing objectives for the player. Additionally, Gravoi has many collectable resources that can aid you in your searches: matches, for instance, are essential for lighting the way, marking locations, and unveiling otherwise hidden objects. Coins can be exchanged for matchboxes, drinks that replenish lost stamina, and instant photo cartridges for you to record your discoveries. There are also a multitude of less-obvious uses for these resources for you to learn as you explore more and more of Gravoi.
But all the while…the creature prowls, watching, laying in wait. Making too much noise attracts its foul attention, forcing you to evade its clutches, by any means necessary. Should you fail, all is not lost: you can switch to another protagonist to find their captured companion and free them. But, should all four protagonists fall into captivity, the town regenerates—completely changing its layout. All story progression and solved puzzles remain, but you will have to reorient yourself and relearn the winding streets and passageways of Gravoi.