Review: Penumbra:Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague

Review: Penumbra:Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague

Part of the 9 days of Heck. Amnesia, eat your heart out (even though you were made by the same devs!)


Year: 2007

Played on: PC via Steam

Also on: Linux, Mac OS

Developer: Frictional Games

Publisher: Paradox Interactive


A cold, dark place that isn’t my heart


Date posted: October 23, 2017



Penumbra: Overture is the first game by a relatively unknown developer (well, at the time anyway) called Frictional Games. It tells the tale of a man named Phillip, who after receives a letter from his thought to be dead father, heads out to Greenland of all places, GREENLAND, in order to find clues about what the hell is going on. Greenland is very very VERY cold, so he decides to make the brilliant decision and warm up in an abandoned mine. Wouldn’t ya know, the entrance collapses, and he finds himself in a dark, cold corner of hell. The rest is a certified hood horror classic!

I am not going to spoil what happens, but I will tell you the premise of the game’s direct sequel, Black Plague. Phillip now finds himself deeper within the mines in some sort of complex, where something terrifying has happened. Now he has someone, or something coming after him, and he must uncover the secret of this forsaken place, before its too late…

The most striking thing about the Penumbra games is that the character is totally defenseless. Armed with just a flashlight, Phillip must use his wits and stealth to survive. There are no weapons to speak of- no guns, no knives, nothing- the only thing close is the ability to throw objects using the games excellent physics system. Even this will only slow enemies down, as the enemies in the game are nigh invincible. It’s up to the player to use the environment and their wits to overcome any and all opposition.



921916-overture_officeThe game just oozes atmosphere, the way I ooze alcohol and shame.


The best part, easily, about the Penumbra series is it’s atmosphere. It gives off the impression of a dark, pitch black, and cold place, one that is not easy to forget. A lot of attention of detail was put in, and the atmosphere sort of blankets you as you dive deeper and deeper into the games environment. A great series to play on a cold, black night.

Most of the game is sneaking around enemies, which I won’t spoil, even though Google Images will (Thanks Google!), and solving different kinds of puzzle- both your standard point-and-click affair, and some environmental puzzles as well. Most are really well made, and I don’t even think I needed a guide like I usually do for these kinds of things. They are really well thought out, and you’re almost guaranteed to have a lot of “Ah Ha!” moments.


penumbrabp-1For 2007 game, I think the visuals still hold up well.


Some of these puzzles use the game’s physic engine, which I think needs to be talked about, as these are some good physics. You can knock things over, drag heavy objects and even make book cases fall over. Half Life 2 ain’t got nothing on this!

The game also has a story, and it too is pretty well done. Sure it has the “Something has gone wrong at this test facility” cliché, but it does it well enough. To advance the story, you read various excerpts left by scientists and the like. I’m not going to spoil anything, but all I have to say is I’m sorry Red.


218579-penumbra-overture-episode-1-windows-screenshot-a-spooky-corridorNotice how I’m not showing any enemies? Go in these games blind-Trust me!


The second game, Black Plague, is pretty much uses the same mechanics, but now there are enemies in the game that hunt down the player, making it more frantic. Unlike the enemies in Overture, these enemies are pretty much invincible, and you really have to be on your toes in order to outrun these terrifying creatures. There are also more puzzles, and these are more in depth then Overture’s in my opinion. The last hour of the game is one hell of a trip. You’ve been warned!


I don’t have a lot to complain about so let me nitpick here. The games themselves aren’t the longest, but seeing how I paid 4 bucks for all three, I don’t think length is that big of a problem. There really isn’t rewards for playing the game multiple times, but you will because of the amazing atmosphere. Once you know the solution to the game’s puzzles, you’ll know on future playthoughs. Also, the third game, Requiem, is technically non-canon and is just a bunch of puzzles, thought they are just as well thought out as both of the original games. Also, I personally didn’t like the voice in the back of your head in Black Plague. It felt overly goofy, like it didn’t belong in a horror game.


Do yourself a favor and play these games without looking up anything about them. While there are not a lot of shocking revelations or plot twists, I think going into these games blind will increase your enjoyment of them greatly. They might not offer a lot a ways of replayibilty, and have some minor annoyances, but I think this series needs more love. More then Amnesia, but I’ll go over why I think this later this week. The trilogy goes for cheap during Steam sales.Defiantly pick them up!


Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!

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