Ever since Alone in the Dark
and Clock Tower [クロックタワー]
defined the survival-horror genre, every additional game linked to this genre have been more and more action oriented. The latest Silent Hill
and Resident Evil [バイオハザード]
games certainly scare, but they hardly represent the sheer terror and barebones survival qualities of these earlier titles. Penumbra: Black Plague
should serve as a revelation then, as it strips you back down to being a lone contender in an impossible race for survival. Much more then just a survival-horror title, Black Plague
is one of the few titles to truly innovate and rethink genres that we felt had been fully explored in the '90s.
In cold math, the equation of P:BP
would be such: Myst
+ System Shock 2
= Black Plague
. The game has the isolation and mystery of the Myst
school of adventure games, as well as being composed of puzzles that will leave you stumped for some time. The game channels Portal
due to the game bringing the Myst
puzzles into a more accessible FPS experience (as well as its black humor), and SS2
for having a terrifying narrative and a novel way of delivering it. Any game that requires so many comparisons and lengthy explanations is always an original, interesting, and innovative game. This certainly applies to Black Plague
It's hard to keep in mind Black Plague
is a budget title by a budget company. With that said, the game lacks the polish of its influences. There are various graphical glitches, the controls can be clunky, and the game is minimal with its environments and character models. These complaints, thankfully, don't conflict with the narrative and content of the game.
, it seemed we had entered an age when innovative, smaller budget titles will get their dues -- Black Plague
hints that we aren't quiet there yet. As the game anyone should pick up if they are craving some solid spooky business (this is hands down the scariest game I ever played -- I literally couldn't sleep afterward and needed to play it during daylight) and Portal
's logic puzzles, Black Plague
needs to develop a greater following. With a compelling narrative, the most unsettling environment ever, and one of the most ingenious narrative-driven gameplay moments ever in its final act, Black Plague
is a hard game to overlook when making a best of survival-horror list (especially given the psychological scar it left on me).