User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Penumbra: Black Plague

MobyRank MobyScore
Linux
...
4.6
Macintosh
...
5.0
Windows
79
3.5
Not an American user?

Description

Black Plague is the second major part of what was originally planned as the Penumbra trilogy. The story is picked up right after the events of the first game, where Philip travelled to Greenland to pursue a location the notes of his father describe. The game takes off deep inside the mines, in a complex known as The Shelter, built in the seventies by the Archaic Elevated Castle, an organization in pursuit of ancient knowledge. Philip gets to know more about the Tuurngait virus and the storyline is explained further through the events and notes left behind.

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.

Screenshots

Penumbra: Black Plague Windows Main game screen
Penumbra: Black Plague Windows The outside light is not from this earth.
Penumbra: Black Plague Windows A short tutorial serves to familiarize players with the controls and interface.
Penumbra: Black Plague Windows There are mysterious dead dogs in the kennel.

Alternate Titles

  • "Пенумбра 2. Дневники мертвецов" -- Russian spelling
  • "Penumbra: Czarna plaga" -- Polish title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

There are no reviews for this game.


The Press Says

Gamernode Windows Feb 17, 2007 9.5 out of 10 95
Games32 Windows Feb 28, 2008 82 out of 100 82
Resonance-Gaming Windows Feb 29, 2008 8 out of 10 80
Jeuxvideo.com Windows Jun 30, 2008 16 out of 20 80
GameSpot Windows Feb 22, 2008 8 out of 10 80
Deaf Gamers Windows Mar 10, 2008 7.9 out of 10 79
GameZone Windows Feb 11, 2008 7.6 out of 10 76
GBase - The Gamer's Base Windows Feb 29, 2008 7.5 out of 10 75
GameBoomers Windows May, 2008 B 75
PC Gamer UK Windows Feb 28, 2008 7.4 out of 10 74

Forums

Topic # Posts Last Post
Opinions? 21 MichaelPalin (1195)
Apr 17, 2008

Trivia

Early in the game, Philip discovers a slide projector with slide containing a timeline of the events happened in the mine. If you "use" it, Philip will write the timeline on his notebook except for one event:

"24th December 1970: Mine worker Tom Redwood goes missing"

Tom "Red" Redwood is the only human that we meet in the previous game, 30 years after he disappeared. This may be seen as an emotional attachment of Philip to his late friend.

Related Web Sites

Contributed to by Sciere (268377) and Iggi (4869)