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Penumbra: Requiem - Where you'll probably meet your fears!

by: Finn Orfano ; edited by: Bill Fulks ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

About year and a half have passed since Frictional Games released the first part of the pseudo trilogy - Penumbra: Overture. This release however, is more like an expansion of the second part called Black Plague which sales were obviously good enough for this continuation to exist.

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    Wait, what? Story?

    That's what this game doesn't really have! And I really hope that's the last of the releases under this name because I'm afraid we will only see a character walking over an empty space in the next version. This is just another example how a game studio is trying to get the maximum from a very good primary project. However, with every next release this game gets more and more boring despite the good things in it.

    The game is divided in 10 levels and has not more than 4-5 hours of game play. The worst thing is that the levels are not connected in any way. They are completely different from one another and aren't really built around any story or plot. You only know that your name is Philip and that there is some contiguous doctor which only communicates with you through video recordings and other strange methods.

    The only cool thing that at least somehow connected this game to the others is that it starts where the last ended. Anyway that doesn't really help to the overall feel, doesn't it?

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    If you have ever tried any of the other versions, you'd know that the only word which will correctly describe the gameplay is "logic". That's what the game is build around, not like the older versions were as bad as this one in terms of plot and story, but at least the authors managed to keep the logical part still here. I would however not use the same word for what the designers and the authors are doing with this game. In this expansion many core features contributing to the atmosphere were removed.

    This scary, dark atmosphere and the logical puzzles were the elements that made Penumbra: Overture so popular. You could also fight disgusting spiders, hell hounds and other monsters that wanted to reach your bowels at all cost. Fighting was never a good idea though. Our hero is everything else but not a tough guy.

    In Requiem, this main feature was, as I already said, removed. The enemies are completely missing and you cannot really die unless you make some mistake in your journey. The moment where a dark hound jumps from the dark and goes for your throat is now completely gone, and that disappointed me. You can die by being smashed, poisoned, drowned, or fall from above. It's like you are on a picnic.

    At least the puzzles are still in the core. There are no enemies, so there is no time required to complete a particular task either. You could spend as much time as you want and make experiments until you find out how to move ahead. Normally, the solutions are very logical and the atmosphere itself is more than a joker in many situations. If you however reach a place where you'll be completely blocked, you should think of the possibilites of the physical engine. It's also good that the game is very short, this way it won't bore you to death at least.

    In the end, we should all decide if this game is worth spending the $19.99, an expansion that is more like a demo version of the original games with new levels. In my opinion, it's an obvious no-no.

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    Graphics and Sounds

    Sounds! Well, that's actually the only positive thing about Penumbra. Frictional Games did great again with the musical atmosphere. From the wind that you hear in your ears, through the sounds of Philip himself up to the strange noises you hear in the near or far space. Everything is made very influent.

    The graphcis are nothing special, judging that we are in a computer games era where the technical parameters are most important. That's normal, judging the fact that the designers didn't really invested anything about creating a new engine, and only used the old things under a new skin, if I may say it that way.