Αναρτήθηκε: 1 Μαΐου
This review contains minor spoilers, mostly of the beginning of the game.
Penumbra: Overture is a first person horror adventure game and the first part of the Penumbra series. You play as Philip, a physicist who teaches at university. After his mother's death he receives a letter from his supposedly dead father whom he barely remembers at all. The letter contains a key to a safety deposit box as well as the instruction to destroy everything that's in the deposit box. When Philip opens the box he finds several document and maps, some of which he cannot even decipher. The findings point to a location in Greenland though. So, instead of destroying everything Philip packs his things and leaves to follow the traces his father has left behind. After arriving at the location he manages to find an abandoned-looking mine.
Penumbra: Overture plays in first person perspective. The player can manipulate objects by clicking on them and then dragging the mouse accordingly. Doors and drawers are used in the same fashion. This system was later refined and used again in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, so if you have played that one you have a pretty good idea how it works. Many of the puzzles are solved by manipulating objects in the enviroment. It is also possible to pick up various objects and pile them up to briefly block a door or throwing them as a distraction. Philip can also crouch and hide in the darkness - a skill that is very much required. While combat is possible I'd highly advice against it. There are only melee weapons available and those work in the same way as manipulating objects works. You have to actually swing them around using the mouse which is very awkward, difficult and therefore risky. The combat is the one thing I really dislike about the game. Luckily it is avoidable in most cases.
While exploring the mines Philip has to mainly rely on stealth and wits. As already said combat is very dangerous and in most cases not worth the risk. Also, there are certain enemies which are so massive that you cannot possibly hurt them in any meaningful way. So for the majority of the time Philip has to lay low, hide if possible and run if necessary. While staying hidden works most of the time there are some parts of the game where you have to get away as fast as possible. This really helps with spicing things up and making the player feel unsafe. Many of the puzzles revolve around manipulating physics objects but there are also some which revolve around finding information and acting accordingly. So you have to example figure out how to assemble an explosive charge, find all necessary ingredients (or substitutes), assemble the device and use it to clear a cave-in, so you can move on. There are several other puzzles which can only be solved by exploring the environment and gathering the appropriate information. Those are very engaging and reward the player with a true sense of accomplishment after figuring out the solution.
Penumbra: Overture features a really creepy atmosphere. You are all alone in the abandoned mines with no human being around but still it is obvious that people have been there until very recently. Whenever you apparently get really close to meeting another human being that chance is taken away from you, so for a majority of the time you can only rely on yourself and on the voice of a crazy sounding man who contacts you over the radio from time to time. While he sometimes sounds really nice he seems very unstable and probably not the person you want to rely on when it gets serious. Overall Penumbra: Overture does a very good job in emphasizing Philip being isolated in a hostile environment.
Penumbra: Overture is the first half of a two-part game (Penumbra: Requiem is rather a spinoff which does not directly continue the main story). The story continues and reaches its conclusion with Penumbra: Black Plague. Because of that you will not be able to figure out the whole backstory after having played only Penumbra: Overture. There are find several hints to find, though. While I think that Penumbra: Black Plague is even better than Overture, Overture is still a really good game.
If you like horror games and/or engaging puzzles this lesser known gem is something you should really try out.