Penumbra: Black Plague
Gameplay is fairly identical to the original game. Philip has to gain access to different locations mostly by relying on his wit, in a survival horror setting. The environment is very dark and puzzles are more complex than similar games, requiring extensive object manipulation, combined with a realistic physics engine where the mouse is used to open drawers, turn valves on tools and throw or stack objects. As the original game was often criticized for the cumbersome close-combat, the sequel removes almost all offensive means, having the player use the environment to outwit enemies and run from them, and putting the focus almost entirely on the puzzle-solving aspect. Gameplay is also largely based on stealth and hiding in dark corners. The game is shown through a first-person perspective with a regular mode, and an interact mode to explore specific areas.
Important items are stored in an inventory, with quick slots. The player can take multiple hits and restore health through painkillers. The game uses fixed save points, represented as ancient objects. Where the first game introduced the character Red as a dubious radio sidekick, the second game makes interaction more complex, as Philip is contact with a certain Dr. Amabel Swanson as well as with Clarence, a conflicting voice inside his head as a second personality due to the effects of an infection. Clarence is able to cause effects such as déjà vus (playable sequences), distorted reality and a lack of control over vision and movement.
Playing the first game is not required to follow the story, but many important plot elements are further explained or referenced. New to this game are a gas mask, the use of computer terminals to access information and gain access to new areas, and an additional button to rotate items more easily when holding them.
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Marc Nicander, ' (Abyss Lights Studio)