Penumbra: Overture

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Penumbra: Overture on Steam

MSRP: $9.99 for the Penumbra Collection (includes 3 titles)

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 3/30/07


I have a lot of respect for Frictional Games and their take on horror – all of their games seem to focus far more on the atmosphere than anything else.   What that means for most gamers is that they either love these games, or they hate them.  You can’t go into Penumbra: Overture (or any other Frictional Games title) expecting to be a badass who is going to blow away all the monsters.   You will be sneaking and hiding and praying that nothing eats you.

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Penumbra: Overture is an old game, and it shows.  It combines a terrifying setting, stealth gameplay, and puzzle solving , playing sort of like a point-n-click adventure game with a cast of one.  I decided to go in mostly blind, and was pleasantly surprised that you actually need to manipulate some elements rather that just clicking on them.  Doors need to actually be pushed or pulled in most cases.  It’s a neat touch that improves immersion.

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If you can overlook the melodrama, which is prevalent in the early game, and aren’t too stubborn to occasionally consult a walkthrough (I had to within the first fifteen minutes), Penumbra: Overture is worth playing solely from the point of view of being a spiritual predecessor to the immensely popular Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Playing all three titles in the Penumbra Collection will take anywhere from 12 – 20 hours, and it’s currently on sale on The Humble Store for less than $2.

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