Penumbra: Black Plague (Demo)

Black Plague cover art

This game was picked out for review by those who voted in a poll over on NapalmRiot, a social-networking site for gamers. This game won by fifty-percent of the vote.

Penumbra: 1 ) a space of partial illumination; 4) something that covers, surrounds, or obscures.

Penumbra: Black Plague is two parts The Thing and one part BioShock. Taking place in Greenland, you play the role of Philip as he escapes his imprisonment and attempts to explore the underground facility that surrounds him.

This game is the further story of Phillip that started in Penumbra: Overture which saw him enter an underground area, that was part of an abandoned mine, in search of his father. Facing mutations of native animals, he searched deeper and deeper. Coming out of the his underground maze, Phillip comes upon a secret facility and is thrown into a room. After being locked in and passing out, Phillip awakens and starts the story of Penumbra: Black Plague. Phillip must escape his confines and attempt to find out what happened to both his father and the personnel of the facility. He is not alone however as both traps left by the personnel and a living threat that roams the halls are in his path to safety and the fate of his father.

Notes:

  • This game is surprisingly short. The demo, which took around two hours to beat, is one-fourth of the entire game. The advertisements both at the end of the demo and on other media suggest a total of eight hours of play. That short amount of play is due to the fact it is the sequel in a series that was supposed to be a trilogy but was cut down to just this game and original.
  • The graphics are not as good as other games that have come out this year. They are not bad, but do not stack up against the releases of other more well known studios. Some environments look good while other visual aspects, enemies for example, look rather poorly created.
  • The game is classified as a survivor-horror action game and lives up to its name. There are many elements that add to this theme. One of the more effective ones is the apparent “breathing” of the character. This game takes place in first-person view and will occasionally blur as the character comes across something that would scare a person in real life. For example, when confronting one of the enemies, which you do not fight but hide from, the character appears to hyperventilate and the screen constantly blurs and a fast breathing sound is heard. Sounds in the game are good as well with many moments containing noises that are just on the edge of hearing and the occasional sound of ethereal voices that give the game a horror feeling.
  • In the end though, while not a great game, it could be worth the money for fans of the genre who do not expect too much from it. The full game was released just days before this post as well, so it should be available in many stores.