|The Town of Light
|June 6th, 2017
|PC, PS4, Xbox One
|M for Mature
Adventure games seem to get a bad rap nowadays, but do all of them deserve the same treatment? Today I’m looking at The Town of Light, a 3D exploration game that tells the story of insane asylums in the late 1930s-40s. So is this game worth your time and money, or is it just another cog in the machine?
The premise is very simple. You follow Renée, a former patient of an insane asylum in Tuscany, Italy called Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra. You wander around the asylum trying to painstakingly discover what actually happened. The story continues to grow darker as the game goes on, showcasing the true horrors of being labeled “insane” in the 1930s-40s.
The story of The Town of Light is really dark, but it actually takes its time and is really careful when touching on sensitive subjects. Mental disorders and the dark inner workings of the asylums are shown, but they aren’t ever inflated just for storytelling purposes. Everything is very accurate as to how things were back then, even the asylum itself which was actually based on a real asylum, and was recreated almost exactly by the team. Everything in the story melds well, and the progression feels very natural. A really nice touch that they added was the almost constant shift in cognition. One second you’ll be talking in first person, and the next you’ll be talking in third person. This is really disorienting, but accurately shows what’s going on in the head of Renée (you). It’s a great storytelling asset that is very rarely used, but is a very welcome addition. The only part of the story I didn’t like were the choices. They branched off the story a little, but they all lead you to the same destination. It would’ve been a lot better if they’d changed something more drastically, or even if they had just made more sense. It’s not a huge issue, I just wish it would’ve been expanded upon more.
The music and atmosphere in this game are very beautiful, but creepy and unsettling at the same time. Within an instant, you can go from a beautiful piano piece, to nothing but the sound of your own footsteps. This dramatic shift really throws you off kilter, but helps to remind you that nothing ever stays happy for long. Same goes for the art style. While the 3D art isn’t anything terribly impressive, the 2D art is both visually impressive, as well as deeply unsettling. From the gothic people on the walls to the childlike doodles, it all seems unsettling, yet innocent at the same time. The score and art work exceedingly well together, and made me want to continue just to see more of it.
Now we get to the biggest issue with the game – mechanically this game feels incomplete. The addition of a sensitivity slider was really nice, but everything in this game felt really slow. I understand that this game wants you to slow down and take in the scenery, but a run button or just the ability to move faster would be nice when you have to backtrack to an earlier area. This feels like unnecessary padding just to make the game longer. If the game wasn’t slow enough already, there are also random frame dips throughout the game. I’m not usually a stickler for FPS, but the random stuttering really sucked me out of the atmosphere whenever it happened. It’s really hard to take in the atmosphere when it feels like you’re looking at a slideshow for a few seconds.
Overall, The Town of Light is a very slow game, but with an excellent atmosphere and story. While it would be hard to recommend this game to just anyone, if you’re interested at all in the story this would be a good pick up. $20 may be a bit steep for a two-hour game, but if the price drops a little I’d definitely recommend it.
Review copy provided by the publisher