Description official descriptions
Not much is known about Max Laughton at first, but it is clear that he is conducting a particularly important research and is close to reaching his goal. Eager to share the good news with his family, Max hurries home in his car. However, somebody has evidently tampered with the vehicle; failing to control it, Max gets in a serious accident and loses his conscience. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a strange tower resembling an asylum, surrounded by insane people, the shrill sound of alarm driving him mad. Max cannot remember anything from his past and is feverishly trying to escape this place. But just when he thinks he has succeeded, he is taken on delusional, horrifying trips through his subconsciousness, unable to distinguish between reality and hallucinations.
Sanitarium is a point-and-click adventure game, best described as a psychological thriller. The game is divided into nine chapters, each taking place in a different location and having its own distinct atmosphere. It is not always clear if something is happening on the grounds of the sanitarium or in the delusional mind of the protagonist. In most chapters the player controls Max himself, though in the more surreal areas drawn from his memories the role of the protagonist is given to other characters, real or fictional.
Both movement of Max and picking up items are done with the mouse. Puzzles are mostly inventory-related, with a few machine and lever puzzles. There are also a few action sequences, but even when the player dies, the game can be continued without any penalty. Talking to various NPCs will teach the player about their bizarre surroundings. The plot unfolds as Max's memories are gradually restored and the player finds out more about his past and the nature of the research he was dedicating his life to.
- Шизариум - Russian spelling
- סניטריום - Hebrew spelling
Credits (Windows version)
93 People (81 developers, 12 thanks) · View all
|Head of R&D|
|Director of Creative Development|
|Music & Sound Effects|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 80% (based on 30 ratings)
Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 141 ratings with 12 reviews)
I welcomed very much that Santitarium isn't one of these adventure games where you spent most of the time listening to the neverending boring stories of even more boring characters. No. It's actually quite fun. The conversations are kept pretty short and interesting. Well done ! And - of course - I liked the story, which is put together by about 35 rendered movie sequences bringing light in the - as it seems at first - quite bizarre situation. Am I dreaming ? Am I insane ? This can't be reality ! Can it ? You really don't know what to believe in the first hours of gaming. But believe me ... in the end everything will make sense. Again: Well done !
Well, the bad German localization and voice acting killed a lot of the atmosphere. Another point is the low moving speed of the main character. Yet, I could quite live with it. A running protagonist wouldn't have fit in this game anyway. One last point one could mention here is, that the playing time is rather short. I finished the game in 2 evenings.
The Bottom Line
Being not a direct competitor to rather epic serious adventure games like Gabriel Knight, Sanitarium is still a very well designed game keeping you fascinated for 2 evenings.
Windows · by Electric Penguin (3) · 2003
I had played this game the first time about 6 years ago, at a friend's house, but never finished it. The other day, I went into an EB Games store and to my delight I found a "previously played" Sanitarium original three CD set. I truly enjoy these types of games because they challenge the mind. Your hand-to-eye is not tested as much as your brain: a feature that a lot of today's newer games are lacking.
Some of the clues are hard to figure out. Right now, I am still using CD #1. I have figured out who "Mother" is, what she wants to do and why the kids respect her so much. I just don't know what to do with the rubber house and with the car jumpers. Can someone help? Don't give me a walkthrough or the answers, just clues that can help figure out what to do with these items.
The Bottom Line
This game must be in your games collection. If you don't have it, you better get it !!!
Windows · by Ricardo Ramirez (2) · 2004
Bizarre. That is the only word that can summarize this game. You play Max, an amnesiac who may or may not be insane, in an environment that is either his subconsciousness, or a hallucinatory version of the insane asylum he is in. Or both. Sounds like a good idea for a video game? Of course it does!
This basic idea is easily the strongest point of the whole game. I'm not sure it is completely unique, but at the very least games dealing with minds of the insane are not particularly common. "Sanitarium" is divided into several chapters, some of which manage to display the mess that is inside human brain wonderfully. The others, unfortunately, don't, but I'll return to that later. The atmosphere and the subtle details linking the chapters together (like the recurring circus and clown motif) are very impressive (even though the graphics are not particularly so, especially in the cutscenes) and seem to show that someone was really thinking when putting the whole game together. The interface is very simplistic and easy to use. And of course there are several very creepy and disturbing (which does not mean frightening) moments.
Unfortunately, there are flaws, and quite a lot of those. The most obvious design mistake is that the by far strongest chapter is the second one. And if that wasn't enough, the second best follows almost immediately afterward and from there on it gets steadily worse. Partly it's because the writers (as mentioned in other reviews here) desperately try to find a sensible plot, reducing all the madness to a hallucination, which essentially means that you stop caring for your hero and, well, about the game as such.
The other thing is that especially the later chapters are connected only very loosely to the rest. This is particularly true of the "comic book" chapter and the incredibly annoying "Mayan" chapter that feel like completely different games that have been added for some very obscure reason as an afterthought. They are different not only visually, but also in overall style; I even think the Mayan chapter was actually supposed to be funny - and I have to stress I did not register anything even remotely resembling a joke in the rest of the game! And if it wasn't meant to be funny... Well, that's even worse.
Then there are the puzzles, which are terribly easy and with very obvious solutions. If you ever get stuck, it is quite likely because you overlooked something (which happens rather a lot). Mostly you just walk around and talk to everyone about everything; the first part of the Mayan chapter in fact consists of virtually nothing else but endless walking and talking. To make the game more difficult, it is seasoned with some "action" sequences that just show that the interface that was more than good for an adventure game is otherwise completely useless (and yet again I point to the Mayan chapter - as if we all didn't know mazes in an adventure game have never ever been a good idea).
What's also incredibly irritating is the walking pace of your character. Almost all of Max's incarnations you will control (yes, there are more than one) are incredibly slow, considering you spend vast majority of playing time walking around. If there were a way to speed him up, the game would be much shorter - and it actually is quite short even as it is. And a last point, though I agree this is nitpicking, the savegame files have a completely ridiculous size for an absolutely linear adventure game - averaging about 1.5 megabytes each (easily RAR-able into about 15 kilobytes). I know that's not really an issue on modern machines, but I think that tells you something about the game's programmers.
The Bottom Line
The beginning of the game is very good and unique, but as it progresses, it becomes more and more annoying and I quite frankly finished it just because I knew I was almost at the end.
Nevertheless, I heartily recommend giving "Sanitarium" a try - but if you can manage that, stop playing after the end of the Mansion segment. You'll have a gaming experience to remember and save yourself a lot of disappointment.
Windows · by plumifrons (95) · 2007
|Spine/Sides cover scans||RickTM||Sep 28th, 2022|
|problems installing sanitarium||raconteurion||Sep 14th, 2010|
Initial shipments of Sanitarium came with a game-wrecking bug that would cause the player to get locked out of buildings in level 2. A patch is available that corrects this, but there are still reports that it appears infrequently.
- Computer Gaming World
- April 1999 (Issue #177) – Best Adventure Game of the Year (together with Grim Fandango)
Related Sites +
A humorous review on PC Gamer
Postmortem: DreamForge's <em>Sanitarium</em>
A postmortem of the isometric adventure game, <em>Sanitarium</em>, on Gamasutra. The article is written by the game's writer, Chris Pasetto, and deals with the origins of the game's concept, pinning down an engine, their relationship with their publisher, and several other elements that arose or had an effect in the creation of the game (Dec. 4th, 1998).
These hints provide gentle nudges before the final solution is revealed, helping you solve the game without spoiling it for you.
Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!
Contributors to this Entry
Game added by faceless.
Android, iPhone, iPad added by ZeTomes.
Game added December 15th, 1999. Last modified October 21st, 2023.