The Town of Light
Play through the fictional eyes of Renée, a 16-year-old girl who suffers from the symptoms of mental illness. She is searching for answers to the many questions from her past, whilst exploring the place where she spent most of her youth. What happens next is a dark and emotional journey where the lines between entertainment, storytelling, and reality become very blurred indeed.
The game, based on extensive research and inspired by real facts, is a first-person psychological story-driven adventure game set in the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum. Based in Tuscany, Italy, the asylum was shut down in the late 1970s by law from the Italian government which instructed all asylums to close completely and give back patients their civil rights. Explore the asylum as it stands to this day and uncovers the good and the bad that humankind has to offer.
I’ll begin by letting you know that I’m a major fan of Survival Horror Games, Horror Movies and just about anything in the bizarre or Horror Genre so it’s been a while since I’ve come across one I wanted to do a review on. I decided to give ‘The Town of Light’ a go since I liked the fact that it was based on real-life facts and events on what really goes on in mental asylums. I liked this game, and found it very appealing, at least to me. The overall idea is great but I still think it could have been a little more developed. Also, the game could be better described as a “walking simulator”, since there isn’t all that much gameplay to be had.
The Town of Light has a few minor technical issues, but it’s definitely not enough to detract a whole lot from the experience. I think my only real issue with the game was the mechanics. I played it on my friends PS4 and I’m seriously thinking about trying it out on my PC because I feel like I am losing out on a lot. For one thing, the analog sticks are used to move around in look simultaneously, which is typical for the first person of course, but the cursor is such a tiny little circle that unless you are close enough and precise enough, it’s not going to alert you of there being something to see. Most of the things that I managed to find were pretty obvious about what needs to be looked at, so basically, it’s just annoying and not too huge of an issue.
Another thing that some people have found a bit frustrating is that all of the documents you find are in Italian. But don’t despair, there’s plenty of English translation, and you can find it to the right of the screen, although there is no way to enlarge any of the English text with how I played. It’s so tiny that (and I was sitting directly in front of his tv) I’m not able to read it unless I get up and walk up to the tv and read it. I have 20/20 vision and we were playing on his 65″ 4K tv screen if this gives you a better idea. However, I very much enjoy the graphics and the sound quality of this game and I’ve read that this isn’t an issue at all on a computer.
The Town of Light isn’t what I would call a traditional horror game either, but more of a horrific experience, or story. There’s really no jump scares involves, and there are no monsters chasing after you or gore, but there is plenty of creepiness in it, with creepy and haunting sounds also. It also greatly explain how horrific mental illness is, and how fucking horrible human beings can be. That part felt VERY real. It’s an extremely sad and depressing game/story and it has small amounts of cartoonish nudity as well as mild sexual scenes…more like still images actually. Just enough to give you a very good idea of just what goes on in these places.
This game is a more serious type that truly needs to be experienced because of the backstory alone. For most people, it’s a history lesson on how far mental health services has progressed and how misunderstood it had been in the very recent past. Mental health still has a long way to go by medical standards as well as public awareness and what better platform than a game to reach out with?
Apart from walking and looking for key items, it’s a pretty good game and it’s actually more of a laid-back game where you just hunt for pieces of the character’s memory and find out the life and what happened to the person. The crazy part is, that’s it’s based on real true-life events and real footage, and tells a haunting story that’s well worth the small price you paid for the game…if only it were a bit longer. But that’s ok. The game also includes photo-like postcards of the inspiration for the layout of the game. This game will not be for everyone, but if the idea of a walking simulator with a very mature story on the horrors of mental issues interests you, then definitely check it out.
About the product
- Experience the world through the eyes of Renee, a 16-year-old girl suffering from mental illness as she tries to reconstruct her past
- Explore the ruins of the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum and travel back to experience the lives of patients as inspired by historical records
- Forge Renee’s path, steer her emotions and rationalize the truth to reveal a unique non-linear storyline
- A new enhanced version of the town of light including new music, story elements, user interface and more
- Uncover the pages of Renee’s Diary within the game world as you piece together her story
Title: The Town of Light
Genre: Adventure, Survival Horror
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Game Engine: Unity
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS 4, Xbox One, MS Windows, Steam
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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