I recently reinstalled Steam and while updating it I went on a hunt for the Steam activation code for the 2nd Indie Humble Bundle that I had previously bought. To my surprise I also found the activation code for the 1st Indie Humble Bundle, which I took no questions asked. When I was looking through the games Penumbra: Overture caught my eye, it was in fact the only one I had heard of. I knew it was by the developers, Frictional Games, of the currently popular and supposedly horrifying Amnesia: Dark Descent but that was about all I knew. Now, I love the horror genre in general but very few games have managed to give me the scare I really wanted outside of the first Dead Space, but I went in with high expectations.
***SPOILERS*** from here on out.
Penumbra: Overture is set in modern day uninhabited northern Greenland, about as far away from civilization as you can get. The player character follows the trail of his absent and recently deceased father which leads him to a legitimately spooky vacated mine. Itís dark, yes, but you have a flashlight, which runs on batteries, and a limitless glowstick, so itís beyond me as to why you would ever use the flashlight, but anyway. The basic point of the game is to move from room to room to find clues and tools that will help you proceed to the next area of the mine. Youíll often also come upon notes that tell the story and it is a disturbing one. There is one main obstacle that prevents you from going about your business, though, and that is the rabid dogs patrolling the main central areas that connect all the rooms.
Now, the first time I heard the low growling and scratchy footsteps of one of the beasts I dashed behind a nearby crate and stared at the wall for some time. If you didnít know, these games do not give you a way to fight off your enemies and instead you must hide and are encouraged not to look at them. I sneaked past this first one without getting a good look at it but when I ran into the next one I caught a glimpse of him full on, glowing yellow eyes and all.
In the end you are led to a door to a different area of the mine or bunker, the place youíve been led to throughout the whole game. I met the requirements to open this door, a strange unfamiliar door with a bright light shining through it, and went through. On the other side was a perfectly lit stairwell, completely silent. I pranced down the steps, anxious to explore this new area, and took a moment to examine a power box at the bottom. Turning away from that I entered a long lit hallway and was about to continue prancing when I noticed something at the end of the hallway. Just as I thought I made out the figure of a man the lights turned off and I was in complete darkness. I immediately crouched and hid behind a crate just to my right, breathing as heavily as any horror game character. There were no sounds, nothing. If I took out my glowstick he, or it, would see me, right? It was a long while before I decided to move, and when I did I jumped as I was grabbed from behind and the credits rolled, leaving a ďto be continuedĒ vibe.
It seems like Iím complaining a lot about Overture, but I really did enjoy it. The puzzles worked wonderfully and I was really fond of the flow of the game. Hell, I feel like I could spend a long time just talking about the frozen lake room. If it does one thing right though it is the set up of its cliffhanger ending which has me itching to buy the second installment, Penumbra: Black Plague, in hopes that the horror I felt at the end there was a preview of things to come.
LOOK WHO CAME: