hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Destructoid review: Penumbra: Overture Episode One

12:17 PM on 04.09.2007 // Robert Summa
  @summaaftershow

Now usually, with our reviews, we like to have at least three of our writers contribute their thoughts. But, with the PC game Penumbra: Overture Episode One, we were a little short, but still wanted to let you know about this title. Because, let's be honest, the chances you've actually heard of it are slim at best.

So, hit the jump for the review of Penumbra: Overture Episode One and see what you think. 

Mike -Savant- Ferry

Penumbra: Overture is the first episode in an upcoming series of first-person horror games created by Frictional Games. The setting for this game is a seemingly deserted mining facility located somewhere in Greenland. It may sound a bit stereotypical, but Penumbra pulls off this setting very well by using some great lighting effects and immersive sound design. Unfortunately, the layout of the various rooms and corridors seems very uninspired due to a lot of rehashing of objects and textures.

One of the most enjoyable and refreshing elements of the experience is the physical interaction system. Opening a door is not just a simple click or button press, it actually involves a physical movement of the mouse in the proper direction to swing a door open, or slam it closed. There are many great uses for this system which mesh perfectly with the game's many puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, that is what Penumbra is built around from the ground up. If you are looking for a balls-out, shoot-anything-that-moves type game, then this is certainly not for you. The combat system in Penumbra is bittersweet. You are a simple man, not a soldier, so your combat expertise is very limited. You must click and drag the mouse from side-to-side to perform a striking motion with the melee weapons you acquire.

Your weakness is evident the moment you try to fight an enemy with your brawn alone. As with everything else, combat is a thought-provoking situation. Picking up a large object and hurling it at your enemy to knock them to the ground is a great option, or perhaps you can sneak past using stealth to avoid a confrontation completely. Sadly, the clunky combat control system lacks any sort of accuracy when you try to actually hit an enemy and comes off being more frustrating and sloppy than enjoyable. Another big personal turn off is a lack of rendered hand models --- the items just kind of float in front of you when you swing.

All-in-all, Penumbra: Overture is a very promising game with a lot of untapped potential. There are a lot of positives here, but also some undeniable glaring negatives that really take you out of the whole experience at times. Looking past the problems with combat and such, Penumbra should definitely scratch the itch of anyone looking for a horror game with a few unique twists.

Final score: 6.5

 

Reverend Anthony

First things first: If you played Call of Cthulhu and loved it up to the point where you got a gun, then Overture is for you. It's been specifically designed for those gamers who love the horror genre, but are tired of all the overblown action and combat that comes with it.

The two keywords in Overture are "atmosphere" and "physics." The game is essentially a horror title mixed with an adventure/exploration titlem -- think Myst meets Resident Evil.

You play a regular guy with no special abilities, and so the focus is on puzzles, mood, and avoiding combat rather than hiding. If you ever do need to kill an enemy, then you can almost always use your environment to do so (trapping a baddie next to a steam valve and then turning it on full blast, for example). The bulk of the game's puzzles are physics based. The puzzles make sense and fit well into the overall flow of the game, because you aren't constantly feeling that the developers are just throwing random ideas at you and forcing you to cope with them.

While some of the puzzles don't really pan out, most of them do, and they do so without ever feeling forced. The atmosphere is awesome, too -- the lighting is fantastic, and everything you grab has a tactile feel as the game forces you to move your mouse around in circles to spin a wheel, or pull it back to open a door, and so on.

That being said, however, the game does have some flaws. For one thing -- Savant and I agree on this -- the combat, at times, seems to be the worst of both worlds. It's simultaneously too easy and too frustrating once you get the hang of it -- despite the fact that the game wants you to hide and cower from every undead wolf you meet, it turns out to be pretty easy to just throw a barrel at them to stun them before whacking them to death with a hammer. Conversely, the action weapon swinging system is really inaccurate and wonky; while this was an obvious choice on the part of the developers, it creates a considerable problem when you combine the too-ineffective melee weapons with the too-effective object throwing. The combat should be much, much tougher than it is.

Additionally, one of the puzzles in particular had me stumped, and not in a good way. The information the game provided me was contradictory to what I actually had to do, and so I eventually had to email the developers myself. The solution they gave me was more or less the exact opposite of what the puzzle clues said to do, and it really took me out of the game.

All around, though, I have to say that it's relatively easy to look past these flaws and appreciate what, at its heart, is a clever, original, unorthodox take on the horror and adventure genres. If you're in the mood for something new, Overture will not disappoint. Personally, I'm looking forward to episode two already.

Final score: 7



Robert Summa, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure summaaftershow Tips
I used to be World Famous ...  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Agent9 avatarAgent9
gonna help my mom move and pack some things. what it means is I'm gonna sit and get yelled at whether I do or do not do something. I can't be the only one with a picky parent that expects nothing less than clairvoyance (-_-)
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
If some weren't aware, Phil/Mike Martin needs some help right now but can't access traditional donation avenues like Paypal on his own. I'm offering to be a middle man. I'm also offering to match 50% moving forward right now. [email protected]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
At first I thought it would be fun. Then more ideas came, so I kept adding. More! More! But soon it just became stubbornness. Now, as I stare at 10000 words of meandering loon about a subject I'd almost rather be porn, I must question all my life choices.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Someone on Gamefaqs asking the real questions. How mad would you be if halfway through the Mad Max game he stumbles upon a tribe of kids and the rest of the game is a lighthearted romp?
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
I think, for my first try, I drew a pretty damn good Ryu, if I do say so myself [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/edB8UKLdSZep8ZSOYF8u[/img]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Really sad that Wes Craven has passed away. He made really fun films.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
R.I.P. Wes Craven. I'll always remember you for A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream and Red Eye. I'll try not to remember you for Music of the Heart.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
So apparently Nintendo is taking down Mario Maker Let's Plays as fast as they can. Good job!
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Phantom Pain is fucking glorious.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
Anyone remember the cartoon "Freakazoid"? I'm doing artwork for a box for work to hold my supplies, but I cant remember some of the better characters. Freakazoid, Steph, Cosgrove, Candlejack, the Lobe, Caveguy... but who else?
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Gotta love all those Dtoid community members that magically appear whenever there's a giveaway.
DSBrad avatarDSBrad
Newest Madden may be one of my favorites. Been taking all my time up.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
TWITCHTOID! I'll be playing some more PS4 Zombi and then some Until Dawn if'n I want to change things up. Link: [url=http://www.twitch.tv/thedefenestrator]Twitch.tv: TheDefenestrator[/url]
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Bless Wasteland 2's custom portraits [img]http://i.imgur.com/JuWaB1W.png?1[/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Sorting out a bunch of university stuff and going through a bit of writers block. I'm also holding some of my best stuff back for freelancing purposes (uni ain't cheap!), so sorry if my blogs have been a bit lackluster lately. And will be for 4-ish weeks.
gajknight avatargajknight
Been looking for a car to buy today. I swear, I am so sick of my mums voice. "It's too expensive!" "Don't you think it's a little big..." "INSURANCE!" Goddamn woman, chill your beans.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Hey look! I bought some toys and stuff and junk and what-not. [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/Mobile%20Uploads/2015-08/IMAG0656.jpg~original[/IMG]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Yes, it's essentially a trace job, but this is my first piece of pixel art: [img]http://i.imgur.com/N0zmHiL.png[/img]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Oh for fuck's sake, why is there no Netflix app for my PSTV?
Ben Davis avatarBen Davis
Apologies for the lack of Experience Points lately! I'm taking a short break from writing them, but don't worry. They'll be back soon enough!
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -