Monday, 10 November 2008 19:31 steve3582
System Requirements

Windows 2000/XP/Vista 32bit
1.0GHz CPU
1.1GB HDD space
GeForce 3, ATI 8500 or better GPU
ESRB Rating: Teen 16+

Penumbra Black Plague is the sequel to the very popular Penumbra Overture. If you’re a person who likes to be scared, confused, and has a good mind for solving puzzles and challenges, then the Penumbra games are for you. During your game play you will encounter monsters, frightening music & atmosphere. There’s plenty of suspense to keep you on your toes. When I played this game, I was misinformed, and I read things wrong, so I played Black Plague thinking it was the first in the series. So during my game play, I was confused about the back story, and why you were trying to accomplish the goals that are set for you. It wasn’t until I beat Black Plague that I found out I played the wrong game first. The series order is Penumbra Overture, Penumbra Black Plague and then Penumbra Requiem. Requiem ties up some of the loose ends, but ultimately you should play them in order to avoid confusion.

The story behind the Penumbra series is that you’re playing in first person as a protagonist named Phillip. Phillip’s main goal is to find his missing father. In Penumbra Overture, you are set off to look for his father in a green lands area. In this atmosphere, you’re generally on your own. But the game provides you with clues, and notes from previous people that have gone through the areas you have. These clues can help you solve some of your puzzles. I will be honest; I had to use Gamefaqs to get a lot of help to figure out these challenges. I found it over-complicated to solve some of the problems, especially if you are a beginner to these types of games. A good example of this would be in the beginning of Black Plague, you start off in a room with a locked door. You have to look around, use the skills you are given to find your way out. As it turns out, you have to take a coin from a locker, use it in a vice to crush it, use it to unscrew a ventilation shaft, and get out of the room. I felt that was rather tough to figure out, but I don’t play a lot of games with puzzles either, so maybe it was just me. But if you like tough challenges like this, you’ll be fine.

The game is supposed to be a very scary game. I didn’t feel that it was, but maybe that’s because I had a hard time figuring the game out. But now that I think about it, there are a few things that make the game scary. One, there are some scary sounds in the background, you see dead people from the lab laying around, blood, gore, and there are some monsters. With the monsters, the scary part about that is, you are not given any weapons or any means of fighting back, except for running away. So this makes you helpless, and makes it scary, to me at least.

The 3D graphics are decent for an adventure game. The characters are semi-detailed, but some of the objects are hard to make out. When it comes to determining what objects you can interact with, it\'s not very obvious as to what you able to use to get yourself out of some of the puzzles. You have to be really good at games with puzzles and using clues to help you with this game. Again, it might be easier for more experienced adventure gamers. It is easy to overlook some things. The graphics are a bit dated by today’s standards, but it was probably decent for when it was first released.

The voice acting is pretty was done very well. You can hear yourself talking when you are trying to use certain objects or unlock certain puzzles. You also hear your character’s voice in situations like when he notices things, An example of that would be when he walked into a room, and he noticed it was cold in a room, he said just that, “wow, its cold in this room, lets take a look at the thermostat.” Which is what you needed to do in order to unlock that certain puzzle, is to use an object against the thermostat, that is just one example of many where this comes in to play.

The controls are pretty precise and they make it easy to maneuver for gamers of all levels. The extent and detail that the makers went into with this game are very in depth, and very neat. The controls are mainly working with your mouse. Almost everything that you do in the game is working with your hands, and you use your mouse around in the right way to manipulate the object you are working with. For example, if you want to open a locker, hold down your left mouse button while having your mouse cursor on top of the locker, and keeping your mouse button held down, move the mouse up, and that will open the locker. If you place your mouse on a different area of the locker, and do the same thing, then you can actually move the locker. Pretty detailed on how they made the interaction. There still is some keyboard controls to jump, or move left to right, and use objects, but about 90% of the game is mouse driven.

One thing that is good for you when you play the game is that Black Plague auto saves your game every time you reach certain check points. This is important of course because you don’t want to get so far in a game, and have your PC lock up on you or something and you loose it all. You cannot save the game at anytime you want, you have to beat the check point area/level you are in. Once you solve the puzzle for that area, you get out of the area, and the game auto saves your session. It can be annoying running around looking for those save points, but, that’s what you have to do.

When it comes to appropriateness, there are dead bodies and monsters lurking around. You don’t have the means to kill anything but there are bodies, blood and gore too be seen. There’s no swearing or sexual reference in this game.

If you like tough puzzles, and challenges, and possibly the original game then this one may be up your ally. As for difficulty, there are three different levels of playing, easy medium and hard, but I don’t plan on going to play it again at another difficulty rating. The game play is single player adventure game, so any ideas of multi-player are out of the question. But the single player game play was overall pretty good. Many of the puzzles are relatively easy to complete but there are some real tough ones as well. The story doesn’t bridge well if you’re not familiar with the original. The character development is good and will immerse you into Phillips quest to find his father. On the Penumbra site, they offer a free demo. Give it a shot, and see how you like it before you buy it.

Game Play 13/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 5/10
Stability 5/5
Controls/Interface 4/5
Appropriateness: 46/50
-4 for blood and gore

Overall 80%


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