Excellent physics engine
Can't save whenever you want
Its time to check out a game that has been mentioned in high-profile publications like PC Gamer for not only being a high quality freeware title (that is still in development), but also managing to create a very creepy atmosphere, even including other unexpected elements that transforms an ordinary 3D explorer into a fascinating adventure. In Penumbra, you not only get a fantastic looking game, but an powerful physics engine that allows you to manipulate much of the environment to your liking. In fact, in order to solve some of the puzzles and challenges, you will have to do so, be it knocking some shelves over to get some extra batteries or stacking up crates to get up into a ventilation shaft. The suspense that the atmosphere creates will have you constantly looking over your shoulder. The game's interactivity is amazing, and is definitely a must play for any adventure fan.
The story begins with our main character, telling how he came to receive a key and a message from his father after his death. Although he was never close to his father, and harbored a deep resentment toward him for abandoning him when he was young, he still wanted to know more about who his father really was. Using the clues from the message and later a journal he finds, our main character follows a trail of clues to Greenland. During his exploration, a harsh storm traps our hero, but he manages to find cover in an underground base, and that is where the game begins.
Before you start the game, make sure to tweak the controls, and graphic settings to get the most out of it. If you have a low-end graphics card, you probably will not be able to run it at all. You need a fairly decent graphics card to get the game to run, and a better one to get it to look pretty. Once that is done, you will instantly notice how good the graphics are. From the different environments and locations, to every little object, all of it is rendered beautifully. The general look and feel of each location makes the whole atmosphere seem real. The mood is quite dark, murky, and sometimes you wonder if you really are alone. It is not hard to see why this is one of the best looking freeware games out at the moment.
One of the other high points of this game is the excellent physics engine. You are able to manipulate and move the vast majority of the objects in the world. You can move them in many ways, to either help in a puzzle or just to have some fun (and there are plenty of spare objects around to help you do that!). Your interactions with the object are very realistic. Of course, it is done within reason, since, obviously, your character is only human, and he will not be able to lift up heavy and large crates, although he is strong enough to push and pull them around with effort. The physics engine has great potential, and it is refreshing to see something common to many 3D games implemented and used in a new way.
The general vibe of the game is done perfectly. As you just explore and try to discover why it is abandoned, you really feel you are in an abandoned base. Small details like lights flickering and blood on the ground really adds to the whole experience. It is very creepy when you are exploring and trying to make sense of the entire situation.
There really is not much wrong with this game, other than a lack of music at time. Quiet can be a good and bad thing, and while some may prefer music, others do not. For me, it would have been nice if there had been a tad more. The game saves for you at key points in the game, which means you do not have control of when you can save. While it does add to the challenge of the game, there are times would have been nice to have a save feature, especially if you have to leave when you are playing the game and, as a result, have to revert to an older save.
This was a great game to play and I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you are an adventure fan or even just like to play scary sorts of games. Its called Penumbra, see it for yourself.
Review by: DeathDude
Safe for ages: 13+
Windows 2000 XP
1 GHz CPU
400MB Hard-drive space
ATI Radeon 8500
NVIDIA GeForce 3(GeForce4MX not supported)