Date: Wednesday, June 13 @ 20:23:27 EDT
Topic: Adventure Game Reviews
Penumbra Collection is a collection of the Penumbra games, you guessed it! Since Suislide only reviews one game per quarter nowadays, and no one has bothered to put up a review of any of the Penumbra games, AND THESE ARE PC ONLY GAMES (yes, they still exist) here's a review.
The Penumbra games were originally released as episodes, namely Penumbra Overture (2007), Penumbra Black Plague (2008) and Requiem (2008), the latter being an expansion. Episodic content was all the rage those days. It meant that games were released in parts, so that the publisher could charge 3 x $30 rather than 1 x $40. Only fools would buy such game, you'd say, I bought it so that proves it beyond dispute. Anyway, in the meantime episodic content became extinct because it was replaced with DLC, always online requirements and online passes and whatnot to make games unfit for reselling, which screw legit buyers even more!
Like I said before, this is a PC only game, that's good! No "press start to continue" in this game, and no console-based restrictions on graphics, controls and memory use, it's first person too. Still, however, graphics are not that great (part 2 offering a substantial improvement over part 1 though) and the controls are complete and utter ass. This game has save points too, no save anywhere. So basically while this game is a PC only game, it has all the drawbacks of a console port, GAME DESIGN AT ITS FINEST!
This is an adventure game, so it revolves around puzzles. The puzzles in this game are mostly interesting enough not to toss the disc out of the window right away, that's good. This is not your standard point and click adventure too, and there's no pixel-hunting in this game, that's great too. However, instead of point and click it is point, click and drag. For example you open drawers by pointing at the drawer and dragging it open. This probably was supposed to add immersion, but it only adds frustration, this may wel be the WORST IDEA IN GAMING HISTORY. Adventures are rare nowadays, after playing this game I understand why.
It's also a horror game, and it gave me horror alright, but not in the way the developers wanted it. It has excellent sound and a very spooky atmosphere, kudos for that. Voice-acting is pretty atrocious though, particularly the voice of this guy who gives you instructions / threats is annoying. What is this guy thinking anyway, it makes no sense having him around at all. The story is pretty silly too, this is some mining facility that has been expanded throughout the years, but if you would need to dig a mining facility in solid rock in freezing cold, would you really make corridors that lead to nowhere and are vast enough to contain complete aircraft carriers? I do not think I would.
There are enemies in this game. In part 1 this is mainly mutated dogs and spiders. Theoretically you could fight and kill them with a pick-axe, but the combat fighting controls are so awkward as to rule this out completely. That was probably the whole idea of the developers: you are supposed to avoid enemies or run from them, not fight them. And while it is not difficult to sneak past the dogs, and it ads to the tension, it becomes really tedious after a while, particularly when you have to explore a place and have to sneak past the same dog over and over again. The spiders are even worse, you cannot sneak past them, but have to run past them, and prey that they don't follow you all the way (if they do, you have to reload once again).
In part 2 you have zombies as enemies, I cannot begin to imagine the creativity of the developers, it requires a truly creative genius to come up with the idea to have zombies as enemies! The zombies are less in number than the mutated dogs of part 1, but to compensate for that they are even more annoying, because you cannot sneak past them, you have to run from them.
The most annoying part of this game is the timed sequences. You get a vague hint, and then are supposed to do particular things in a fixed order within a limited time, and if you fail to do it right very quickly you die and need to reload. You learn the path to follow by trial and error, trial, dying and reloading actually. This is not a good design for any game, but particularly not for adventures. THIS IS NOT HOW AN ADVENTURE SHOULD WORK FFS! And in those timed sequence you are supposed to hit stuff and turn valves etc, i.e. struggle with the awful controls. YEAH STRUGGLING WITH ATROCIOUS CONTROLS IN TIMED SEQUENCES IS WHAT MAKES GAMES FUN. And the further you go, the more often you run into these sequences, I uninstalled this crap halfway part 2.
The main problem with this game just is that it is just pretty awful and not fun in the slightest. I had more fun going to the dentist for a root canal treatment without anesthetic than I had with this game. Because it is not all bad I still give this a 5 out of 10 though.