Back in around 2014 I was really into horror games. I really don't know why, but somehow 15 year old me was just really into scaring the living shit out of himself.
During a probably 3 year period I spent my time going through a lot of good horror games, but one of them just kept captivating me for some reason.
I can hear you thinking, why is the dude building up? Just tell us already, it's not like anybody is going to fully read this blog post. Well fine, it's the Penumbra series.
Frictional Games, the developers of games such as Amnesia and SOMA started out their carreers in the surreptitious advertising of adult diapers by creating a game called Penumbra: Overture. This game would be the first in a triology (of which the last game is weird.)
In Penumbra: Overture you are placed in the shoes of Philip, a physics professor whoms father dies when Philip is still of early age. Years after his father's supposed death, he receives a letter from a mysterious location in Greenland. Philip decides to follow the trail and ends up in an abandoned mine, finding a lot more than he bargained for.
As it turns out, this mine for some reason is the home to spiders that are way to huge for comfort, and massive tapeworms.
But as Philip ventures through the mine, he uncovers the mysterious Shelter research station. This is also where the first game ends, and where Penumbra: Black Plague begins.
In the story, this research station is responsible for the anomaliously large creatures in the mine. This is due to the fact that the researchers staffing the research station discovered an ancient virus, which as it turns out turns everyone into a hivemind obeying puppet. Except for your companion of course, Clarence, which is just a voice that lives in your head is there to keep you: the monkey, company!
As you progress through the game, you find out your father's true demise and carry on to reveal the location of the research station after gaining the trust of the hivemind (kind of a dick move there, Philip.) Which for Philip results in people coming to his aid (haha like that will work out!)
In the final game, things take a turn and become inherintly weird(er). From gravity defying thruster mechanisms to an energy ball slip-and-slide. You solve a load of puzzles, and eventually kill yourself. Whew, what a ride.
So what about this game captivated me?
At first it was kind of hard to say why I kept coming back to this game. Something about the story and the setting just kept pulling me in.
As I know now, turns out I really like games set in plausible yet somewhat absurd settings. Take for example some of my other favorite games: Half-Life and SOMA.
Both of these games are set in some kind of secret research station, either on the bottom of the sea or hidden in a desert mesa. While I do realize that the ideas of aliens and a hivemind virus are far fetched, I do really love the fact that these games capitalize on the imagination with somewhat believeable locations.
Because be honest with me, wouldn't you explore the absolute shit out of an abandoned research station in the middle of the Arctic, given the means to do so? I know I probably would. Maybe that's the reason why I like to doze off to Urbex videos, but that's just trailing off.
So in hindsight, it wasn't really the scaring the balls of your shaft that was pulling me towards the game, but the setting of the game puts down for the player to marvel at was.
Take a look at the trailers and judge for yourself, maybe give it a playthrough. I'm a blogger, not a cop, do what you want! :-)