Review: THE TOWN OF LIGHT

Walk through an abandoned asylum and learn of the true nature of the life within their walls during the 1920's to the 1940's, through the memories of patients that once resided within the functioning establishment during the dark medical era in The Town of Light.

Squeezing just slightly into the horror genre slot with a disturbing, psychological tale that resembles the horrible circumstances and medical practices that people had to endure during this old time period or experiments and torments.

Originally released on steam back in February of 2016, they are bringing the experience to console officially on June 6th.

Story

While it wasn't entirely clear of the 2016 character's connection to Renée, the main character who's dreams, stories, and experiences are what will be what the true story is about. Renée was a 16-year-old girl who found herself ripped away from her moderately normal life and put in to the life of a women's insane asylum, located in Italy, called Volterra.

You will learn of the various events she went through, her friendship with Amara, various moments with the nurses and doctors, and even find the type of medical practices they used to help treat her ailments.

Looking back from this modern world and knowing that those practices were never helpful makes the entire experience given through this game harder to get through, but has an overall accurate depiction of how institutes, like the asylums, treated the patients and the problems they would face during their stay.

Gameplay

Using the first person mechanics, you will get to explore through the entire asylum as you learn of the story. There is only one collectible, which if all 8 pieces are find make up Renée's diary, and plenty of rooms to check out, which often have nothing special within.

It is a rather slow paced game which doesn't have so much as running. You walk throughout the entire story, but I don't see this as a bad aspect. It is not a game which is meant to put you on edge, but rather have you explore the truths of the events that took place.

There are various notes in different offices that add to the backstory of different characters that were in Renée's life during her time in Volterra, pictures that vaguely show shots of life during the days it was active, and pictures or art for you to find and admire.

There wasn't much to interact with unless it was part of a task needed to appease a current memory you are experiencing, but when there was something that had specific instructions it could be found easily on a wall nearby. It is quite literally an experience game that is meant to be fulfilling rather than confusing.

There are a few times where it will be player choice, which seems to have an effect on the memories and the route that the story ends up taking. I never did figure out how they work exactly, but after you answer each question, it tells you with an image of how it affected your 2016 character and the memories connection.

Graphics

While the overall facility looked well done and the images, wall art, and memories all had their own good aspects that was aesthetically pleasing, there were quite a few aspects with the graphics that brought the experience down a bit for me.

The wall paint was made to look like it was pealing away, but it was incredibly obvious it was a texture and not an actually pealing away wallpaper. The best way to describe it is to say that it looked like wallpaper that was made to look like that. Among this were a few other textures that just seemed lazy, like the door located behind the elevator - why? Why wouldn't you just put a door that you already have set in the game and just leave it locked? Why would you make this a texture when you could of just had a wall if it isn't going to be a room?

I am not going to nit-pick every thing that was amiss, but I wish they would of kept in mind that if you are going to make a game where the whole thing you are doing is exploring within a building that players are going to be spending a lot of time just looking at everything around them. You have to put more effort into the visual aspects of an experience based game like this.

Sound

I was rather impressed with the sound, when it was working. It was odd that there were parts that it was just silent and then the music would just start when you get to a certain part of the game, but on another note, the silence made the exploring aspect seem more legit since it is an abandoned asylum after all.

The music was well done and fitting for the different moments that you went through during the play through, and then the screaming or odd sounds that would accompany the mellow tone of the darkest memories of the story was an excellent aspect that gave me chills.

Replayability

There is some replayability since there are different versions to both chapters 6 and 12, which the ending should be a bit different based on what notes you find. The ending I got earned me a trophy called "Depression" which was apparently unlocking Chapter 12b out of 12a-12d. The story took a very upsetting turn at that point, but I missed a few essential notes that could of been found, as well as made a few bad choices in the options sections.

Check out this Live-Action Trailer:

What Could Be Better

More things to interact with would of been cool, as well as a few optional puzzles that are difficult and don't have the answer right there. I also didn't care for the amount of freedom you give the player when it comes to important moments that if you didn't find what you needed in the room and went to find it elsewhere, you could end up anywhere in the entire facility and have to make your way back, which wouldn't be so bad if you could run at the least. 

Conclusion

A great story with dark realities in it that made you really have to face the truth of the horrible events of the medical time period. Starts off slow and confusing before becoming intriguing yet weird. An experience that will be hard to forget.

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