Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1

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Penumbra: Overture is a first-person survival horror game. Originally created as a tech demo to showcase the in-house developed HPL engine, the small team soon turned it into a full game, split up into two episodes (originally advertised as three), of which this is the first one.

Players take on the role of Philip. After his mother's death, he receives a letter of his father, a man he has never seen in his life and presumed dead. Philip is asked to destroy a set of notes, but instead he decides to travel to the wastelands of Greenland following the clues left in the writings. He ends up in an underground complex where he discovers disturbing facts about the past and events hidden from the rest of the world.

Unlike other survival horror games, Penumbra heavily focuses on adventure elements with physics-based and inventory-based puzzles, exploration, and a few action elements and scripted sequences, with a first-person perspective and mechanics similar to a first-person shooter. Players need to use the environment to operate items and machines, and build structures with items scattered around. Almost any item can be picked up and used as an active game element. Actions need to be performed through an appropriate motion with the mouse: hold and move left or right to swing a weapon, turn valves in a circular motion, pull back to open drawers and doors, etc.

Key items are stored in an inventory and need to be combined or used with objects to progress in the game. Clues and background information about the events are gathered through notes left behind and one-way conversations with a mysterious man called Red. Puzzles often require a lot of thinking, with both visual and auditive elements, and need thorough investigation of the environment. All notes are stored in a notebook and clues for puzzles and tasks are added a to do list.

Philip can collect weapons such as a hammer, a broom and a pick axe, but melee fighting is generally discouraged and rarely rewarded. Instead, players need to use the environment to set up inventive traps or avoid fighting altogether by using distractions or stealth to sneak past enemies. By hiding in the shadows, the edge of the screen turns blue and Philip stays hidden for all creatures. The environment is almost completely dark at all times, enhancing the horror experience. Light sources are very important, and Philip only has a flashlight with a limited amount of batteries, a glowstick and flares.

Next to a constant feeling of desolation, there are many disturbing events and horrifying elements, so the faint of heart need not apply. The game supports OpenAL sound.


Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows It requires a lot of work to get the generator going.
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows Inventory
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows A tricky sequence with deadly steam.
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows A spooky corridor

Alternate Titles

  • "Пенумбра: Темный мир" -- Russian spelling
  • "Пенумбра 1. Истоки зла" -- Russian spelling (1C Company release)
  • "Penumbra: Przebudzenie" -- Polish title
  • "Penumbra: Im Halbschatten - Episode Eins" -- German title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

A major leap forward for adventure gaming and survival horror Windows Sciere (319429)
The most unusual adventure of recent time, but is it enough? Windows St. Martyne (3539)
A Creative, Tense Game From A Small Developer Windows Steelysama (106)
Best let down of the year. Windows Geo_Seven (12)

Critic Reviews

The Freehare Windows 2007 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
games xtreme Windows Apr 04, 2007 8 out of 10 80
Worth Playing Windows May 18, 2007 8 out of 10 80 Windows May 08, 2007 8 out of 10 80
Inside Mac Games (IMG) Macintosh Mar 21, 2008 7 out of 10 70 Windows Apr 16, 2007 7 out of 10 70 Windows Mar 19, 2007 13 out of 20 65
Aventura y Cía Windows Nov 09, 2008 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
PC Powerplay Windows Apr 25, 2007 55 out of 100 55
GameBoomers Windows May, 2007 C 50


Topic # Posts Last Post
Episode 2 = Final? 3 St. Martyne (3539)
Nov 06, 2007
Question on Episode 2 and some theories about Red 11 Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze (584)
Jul 31, 2007


The crowbar you can find on Lake Utuqaq has the name "Freeman" on it, probably due to Gordon Freeman the protagonist of Half Life series. The glove worn by the hand holding the crowbar also looks like those Freeman usually wears on the games.

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Contributed to by Sciere (319429)