Penumbra Overture
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Penumbra: Overture is an admirable attempt at something new and makes for a nice break from all the running and gunning in first person perspective games. There’s plenty of logical puzzles to work your way through and a hair raising story that will have you hooked right to the end. The graphics are not exactly cutting edge and it’s not as scary as it tries to be but overall it’s a good game.

Gameplay: Best experienced late at night with the sound up and the lights off.

Graphics: Brown, lots and lots of brown.

Sound: Pretty standard as far as creepiness is concerned

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Penumbra Overture

Developer: Frictional Games | Publisher: Frictional Games | Release Date: 2007 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Ever wonder what S.T.A.L.K.E.R would be like if it was an adventure game instead of shooter? Me neither really but if anyone did then Penumbra: Overture would be the closest thing to an answer. The game stars a character named Phillip who doesn’t seem to be quite right in the head. After receiving a letter from his presumably dead father Phillip makes the sensible choice of disregarding the contents and instead making a trip to an uninhabited part of Greenland. Upon arrival he wastes no time in getting to the first part of his holiday plan which is getting lost inside an eerie abandoned mine. With all his newfound free time down in the mine Phillip sets out to find some answers but what he uncovers is way more sinister than he ever expected.

Penumbra: Overture is an indie game that clearly didn’t have much resources bit it can definitely put a few big budget titles to shame. The game itself is an interesting mix of adventure and survival horror with some parts working better than others. The highlight is definitely the real world puzzles that are all fairly clever and features none of the bizarre obscurity the genre has evolved into lately. This is enhanced by the realistic physics which turns your mouse into a crude Nintendo Wiimode. Want to open a door? Click on the handy and slowly pull it open to peek inside or yank your mouse to open it with a jerk (in case you have to make a quick exit.) This added sense of interaction extends to all objects in the game world and makes some of the puzzles even more satisfying. Unfortunately it does have its limitations.

The combat in the game is a slow and clunky affair where you swing your mouse wildly at whatever it is trying to eat your face hoping to kill it before it succeeds. It’s not a lot of fun and I’m sure The Elder Scrolls: Arena which came out in 1994 did a better job than Penumbra manages. The games solution to this dilemma is to discourage you from even attempting any form of melee against foes. Cowering in a dark corner is a valid survival strategy and even looking at any beasties can make Phillip panic and give away his position. This is actually quite clever since you don’t want to see any of the games foes up close in any case. The angular polygons and low resolution textures is enough to scare anyone. What they lack in looks they make up for in intelligence and while you are busy doing the clunky melee dance they’ll bring in reinforcements and tear you a new one.

Even barricading yourself in a room is no guarantee of safety as they’ll simply smash it open. Unless you are playing the game on “Easy” mode where you can simply walk up to an enemy and whack it over the head with little fear of retribution. Do yourself a favour and stick to the normal and hard modes.

Since Penumbra is set mostly in an abandoned mining facility there’s not much variation in the surroundings. The decor are all a lovely shade of rust brown and the darkness really brings out the lonely ambience of the place. The various tunnels are all quite foreboding and ambling about while the batteries in your flashlight slowly drains is atmospheric to say the least. It never reaches the levels of tension and menace that the Silent Hill series achieves but it’s an impressive effort none the less. Some more diversity in both creatures and surroundings will stand the next chapter in this game in good stead. The constant first person perspective is moody but would have been even better if your characters limbs were visible.

India games aren’t known for stellar voice acting but Penumbra actually does a good job. The lead character mumbles a few lines every now and then but the star of the show is definitely the enigmatic “Red.” I won’t spoil anything but suffice to say he puts up a memorable performance. The music didn’t particularly grab me but the sound effects and ambient noises were spot on. Like I said there’s a real sense of isolation the deeper you go.

Penumbra: Overture is a shining example of the potential that Indie titles have. It’s got some rough edges but overall manages to impress. The Lovecraft influences lend it  eerie atmosphere and I look forward to seeing what the next chapter will offer. If you want guns, lots of targets to take your aggression out on and different characters to interact with then you can safely move on and give Penumbra a miss. This game is for players that want to experience something different for a change.

*Review originally published 2007.

System Requirements

  • OS: XP/Vista
  • Processor: 1.0 Ghz
  • Memory: 256MB(XP)
  • Graphics: Radeon 8500 / Geforce 3(MX4 Not supported)
  • Hard Drive: 800MB Free Space
  • Sound: Soundblaster compatible
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or newer
  • Processor: 2.0Ghz
  • Memory: 1024MB
  • Graphics: Radeon 9600/GeForce 4 (GeForce4MX not supported, Integrated graphics might not work.)
  • Hard Drive: 2.0GB
  • OS: Linux Ubuntu 12.04 or newer, 32-bit libraries must be installed
  • Processor: 2.0Ghz
  • Memory: 1024MB
  • Graphics: Radeon 9600/GeForce 4 (GeForce4MX not supported, Integrated graphics might not work.)
  • Hard Drive: 2.0GB

Related posts

Planet Diver

Planet Diver

Planet Diver is fast paced and very addictive when played in short bursts, but lack of mission variety does mean it can become repetitive. Still, you get a lot of content for a very low price which definitely makes it worth the investment in time and money. Just keep in mind that quick reflexes are required when braving the deep, obstacle filled chasms through which your wing suit diver loves to plunge. Gameplay: Fast paced, challenging and quite addictive although it can become repetitive. Graphics: It takes a while to get used to the retro style scanlines, but the overall effect is quite nice. Sound: The music is a little unusual, but very fitting.

Fly in the House

Fly in the House

Fly In The House is quite fun at first, especially after the recent patch, but anyone looking for more depth than simply hunting down a fly while destroying everything might be disappointed. The amount of destruction you can get up to is impressive, but the overall visual quality is a bit low. Since there are only three environments on offer the game can also feel a bit restrictive. It’s still fun to play in short bursts though, so grab it if you enjoy mindless arcade games. Gameplay: Once the novelty of breaking everything in sight wears off it can be a bit repetitive. Graphics: The destructible scenery is nice, but the texture quality is rather low. Sound: Limited and annoying music, but decent enough sound effects.

Heavenly Bodies

Heavenly Bodies

Heavenly Bodies is a great combination of fun and frustration featuring hapless cosmonauts trying to complete tasks in zero gravity. Even mundane actions, such as pulling switches and wielding tools, are more challenging due to the control scheme. It is certainly not a game for the easily frustrated as the physics-based gameplay and intentionally tricky controls can wreak havoc on your carefully laid plans. However, struggling through the missions with a friend is both hilarious and rewarding. Gameplay: Requires a controller to be played properly but offers a lot of fun despite the frustration. Graphics: The whole visual aesthetic of the game is excellent. Sound: Excellent soundtrack and sound effects.

Crayon Physics Deluxe

Crayon Physics Deluxe

Crayon Physics Deluxe is a charming little indie game that will suck in anybody that gives it a fair try. It's loads of fun to just mess around and draw different things to see what contraptions you can come up with. With 70 levels and different challenges you'll be playing this one far longer than you might think. Gameplay: Extremely simple, but very impressive at the same time. Graphics: Intentional crayon scribbles. Sound: Not outstanding, but not annoying either.

Arcadecraft

Arcadecraft

Arcadecraft is a nice take on the management genre, but there is a certain amount of tedium involved. Watching your arcade thrive and grow is very satisfying, but most of your time is consumed by emptying the cash from machines and tossing out troublemakers instead of making in-depth management decisions. Hopefully future updates will add some more locations and customization options. Gameplay: Running an arcade is fun, but your space to work with is very limited. Graphics: Plenty of different machines and ways to customize the look of your arcade. Sound: Manages to capture the chaotic atmosphere of an arcade.

Hitman: Codename 47

Hitman: Codename 47

While Hitman: Codename 47 was a good game in its time it requires a lot of patience to get the most out of it. The lack of checkpoints or save spots means that one mistake can take you all the way back to the start of a mission. I also encountered quite a few bugs and crashes during my time with the game which is a pity. Check it out to see where it all started, but don't expect it to blow you away. Gameplay: Entertaining but expect lots of trial-and-error as well as needless repetition. Graphics: Looking very dated at this point. Sound: Flat voice acting, but the sound effects are good.

Leave a comment

2 × 1 =