게시 일시: 2015년 1월 25일
Penumbra: Overture is a first-person survivor horror game with problem solving puzzles implemented in the gameplay which focuses more on survival and eerie atmosphere rather than action and gore. It is also the first episode of the trilogy.
The story centers on Philip, a 30-year old physicist, who gets a strange letter from his supposedly dead father shortly after his mother dies. This gives Philip the inceptive to follow his father’s clues, leading him to an abandoned mine in Greenland where he eventually gets trapped in after the mine’s entrance collapses behind him. From then on, Philip ventures through a series of events which turn out creepier which each new discovery he makes. Soon he realises that the mine is not just any ordinary mine. More importantly, it is not actually abandoned. The mine is in fact the habitat of ferocious mutated dogs, “rock worms” and spiders. Creepy crawly spiders.
Surprisingly, the game has an intriguing story even if its premise of searching for your lost father as a plot device has been done numerous times before. Perhaps that is due to the fact that the story, or maybe its narrative, is actually pretty well-written. Generally, most of the story is being unravelled as the player discovers more lost documents and journals from various people who worked in the mine but died in the end in various circumstances. This may require quite a bit of reading to understand what and why things are happening that way (although some things are still left unanswered by the end), so it is important to not have a short attention span. Additionally, when a particular survivor by name of “Red” makes his first appearance, things seem get even more interesting from a plot point of view, in a way reminiscent of Andrew Ryan’s debut in Bioshock.
The game’s mechanics primarily focus in point and clicking with some "mouse swinging" when solving puzzles and small occasions of combat mixed in. Although some puzzles may require a lot of thinking than others, they are by and large well implemented. Unfortunately, there are times when backtracking is required which may or may not become annoying in time. Furthermore, the game does allow you to hide behind objects and block doors to prevent hostile enemies from seeing or approaching you respectively, thus creating a pretty basic but functional stealth mechanic.
Penumbra: Overture also boasts a great sound design with its spine-chilling ambient music and close attention to details such as foley sounds, as well as having a memorable soundtrack -- the title soundtrack shall always remain a favourite of mine. Sound design is crucial for horror games like Penumbra: Overture, and it is reassuring to see that the developers did a fine job here.
Graphically, while the art direction is commendable, the game did not age too well by today’s standards. The animations are rough and stiff most of times, particularly for the dogs. But in most parts, the aesthetics do achieve in creating the spooky environment the developers envisioned.
The major downside of the game is its combat mechanic. Just like the way you have to approach the doors, drawers or switches in the game, the combat here requires “swinging” the mouse which is extremely clunky and requires a lot of practice before getting the grips with it. Sadly, the experience generally ends up being always infuriating for every single hit stupidly missed by your pickaxe (arguable the main combat weapon). This is why any combat should be avoided as much as possible in this game, at all costs. On top of that, there seems to be a lack of variation in enemies too.
Conclusively, Penumbra: Overture is a game which excels in creating an authentic horror experience with genuine eerie atmosphere and plenty of mystique, along with well thought-out puzzles and an unexpected interesting story, only let down by its combat mechanic and roughness from a technical perspective. Being a relatively short game (so long as you do not “waste” time standing in one spot due to fear), it has the perfect length and pace. It may not be the most impressive horror game out there on the surface, but it is one which horror enthusiasts must try thanks to its unique approach and emphasis on atmosphere and less on combat which differentiates itself from the masses of generic and/or action-oriented horror games; in addition to paving the way to future superior, if not the best, horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent or even Overture's follow-up episode, Black Plague.