Scared and needing a dictionary.

Okay. This post was going to be on another stupid topic, but I started playing something awesome around 4 am a couple days ago. The Penumbra series is absolutely amazing.

Penumbra (look up the word and the game!) is a first person adventure game with horror elements. I’m not very far into the story yet, but it’s a little bit Lovecrafty and very mysterious. Most of the game is puzzle solving in a dark mine. Seriously, I should change this blog to “Greenland Mineshaft”.

I’m not terribly far in Penumbra yet. Let me tell you though, this game HAS me. I was playing in the dark… really early the morning. Nothing scary had happened yet. A little harmless spider crawled from left to right across the screen and I almost threw my laptop across the room.

My sexy yet inquisitive girlfriend asked me a while back how a video game can be a scary experience. I now have an answer. It’s atmosphere. This game draws you in by having no cutscenes and immediately launching you into the story. It has some of the best atmospheric sounds and music I’ve heard.

It’s also dark. I’m a defender of Doom 3, but don’t worry, it’s not nearly as dark as that. You have a flashlight, which lets you see way down a hallway… but it runs out of battery if you use it too much. You also have a glowstick, which never runs out, but only lights up a small area all around you. Still, there is a good amount of lights naturally in the mine itself. Using light is sometimes a bad thing, since the monsters can find you much more easily if you are lit up.

Oh yes. Monsters. They hunt with sight and sound. You need to be very aware of exactly how much light and sound you are making at any given time. It’s possible to fight them, although you only have improvised weapons to work with. The game is built so that you’re more likely to spend your time running and hiding than fighting.

It has great physics too. Since you don’t have very good weapons (I’ve found a hammer and a pick axe so far), you need to do most of your fighting by throwing rocks or barrels at things. You’ll also be solving puzzles by using the game’s physics engine, such as tipping over a cabinet to find something hidden behind it. Most of the doors open in real time as well, forcing the player to graaaadually push open the door and see what’s behind it instead of pressing a magical “door open” button. Nice touch.

For people who like a good horror game and don’t mind a few puzzles… or for people who like puzzles and don’t mind fearfully barricading every door you go through… Play Penumbra. Take the game’s advice too. Turn down the lights… put on headphones.

I’m off to do so now.


1 Response to “Scared and needing a dictionary.”

  1. January 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    You have a girlfriend? Dammit I bet she’s one of those mythical “girls” on the “internet”.

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January 2009
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