Sanitarium

Moby ID: 572

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 80% (based on 30 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 143 ratings with 12 reviews)

A true adventure game underdog with a great, unique but rather short story

The Good
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 !

The Bad
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

Could deformed sisters torture cyclops in a Mexican morgue?..

The Good
DreamForge, certainly an underrated developer, mainly focused on role-playing games (Ravenloft series and others), with only an occasional adventure - such as the interesting Chronomaster - sticking out. Sanitarium is undoubtedly their best-known adventure, and probably their most famous game in general.

Sanitarium begins as a psychological thriller. You have lost your memory and can't even remember your name; all you know is that you are in a very bizarre place, surrounded by equally bizarre people. Piece by piece you must unravel the mystery, but at first it seems that it would become even more complicated as you advance in through the fittingly disjointed, nightmarish plot.

Right in the beginning there's so much suspense that it took me several attempts to actually start playing the game. You have no idea about what to do next or even who you are supposed to be. The beginning Sanitarium manages to be scary and very unsettling without resorting to cheap effects. There are very few standard horror elements in the game: minimum of violence, almost no gory scenes at all, and only a few creepy monsters making well-timed appearances. What is truly frightening is the psychological suspense and the madness surrounding the hero and torturing him from within. What is scary is the inability to tell dreams and hallucinations from reality.

The first real chapter of the game is also by far the strongest one. Everything is very quiet in a seemingly peaceful little village. But then you start talking to those children... and those deformed children were probably the single scariest thing I have ever seen on my monitor. I remember feeling physically ill just from playing that chapter. I couldn't put the game down afterwards simply because of some sort of a morbid curiosity that kept urging me to continue. But the game does much more than shock you with disturbing images: it makes you identify yourself with the hero who, in spite of surrounding madness, tries to control himself and act as normal as possible.

Not everything Sanitarium does is brilliant or even appropriate, but one can hardly deny that it tries very hard to keep us in the loop of perpetual psychotic ravings. And that is no small task - after all, there is only so much pressure human brain withstand when bombarded with mutated faces of innocent kids. It seems that the developers understood that and eventually went for color and variety at the expense of horror atmosphere. This is precisely what the game was berated for: it promises unbearable mental horror and ends with a horse-faced deity chatting with decent-looking Mexican spirits. But while it is true that, in a way, Sanitarium doesn't sustain its atmosphere well enough, it attempts to compensate it with diversity. Many of us lambasted the comic book or the Mesoamerican chapter post factum - but during the first playthrough, the change of scenery was certainly perceived as interesting and even strangely invigorating.

The Bad
Despite my defense of the later chapters, I won't try to deny that they cannot compare to the opening ones and even come close to ruining the game. In its aspiration to cram as much material as possible into the game in order to reflect the richness of human imagination (or whatever other reason, really), Sanitarium ends up choosing the path of gradual reduction of the horror aspect and its eventual replacement by mild and rather harmless fantasy adventuring. The dark and twisted images of the earlier chapters give way to nearly cheerful superhero adventures, culminating in the Mesoamerican chapter, rightfully regarded as the weakest one.

There is quite a bit of discrepancy between the atmosphere and the puzzles in Sanitarium. The few mechanical puzzles actually work well, and - unlike some other reviewers - I also didn't mind the primitive action sequences. In contrast, traditional inventory-based puzzles are rather weak and almost feel like an afterthought. I do not see anything remotely poignant or symbolic in riding a toy pig in order to proceed to a mysterious pumpkin patch controlled by a horrifying alien. It doesn't really get better as the game advances. You'll be forced to endure stretches of schematic gameplay with obsolete devices and a lot of backtracking, which clashes with the game's horror aspirations and renders the later chapters positively dull.

The conversations are, unfortunately, not better. You'll have to exhaust one dialogue tree after another to obtain vital information time after time; but these dialogues are not particularly interesting or well-written, lacking wit or any sort of extravagant element to match the game's original premise. There is something thoroughly mild and mundane in the entire gameplay system of Sanitarium, which feels very much out of place in a game with such strong imagery.

Finally, though the graphics are certainly good, I find the isometric perspective woefully unsuitable. The rooms are just way too small. This wouldn't be a problem in a RPG, where you have to overlook a large world with less importance assigned to each area. But here, every item is needed to solve some puzzle, so expect a good deal of the so-called "pixel-hunting". And the isometric perspective generally doesn't fit a game that emphasizes the protagonist's psychological suffering rather than world exploration. First-person view, for example, would have been much more appropriate. The control scheme is needlessly weird - why do I have to hold down a mouse button to move? The protagonist's walking speed is too slow, and he would often get caught in unskippable animations going up and down the stairs.

The Bottom Line
Sanitarium is unique and engrossing, and the first two or so chapters are truly well done. Unfortunately, it loses a lot of its atmosphere along the way, and its gameplay system is steadily a few notches below its captivating premise.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181769) · 2016

Awesome unique game keeping the dying adventure genre alive.

The Good
(eh, I'll just start by saying that I refer to the main character as "the character" as well as "you", since it is you playing it. I just can't remember the guy's name...it's been a while)

I heard nothing but bad things about this game. My uncle thought it was horrible, my friends thought it was the worst game ever made. They probably weren't alone, since at the time the only places I'd even heard of the game was through their ranting. I picked the game up out of boredom - just to see what was so bad about it, if nothing else - and was surprised to find such a great game!

This is what an adventure game should be. It reminds me of the old Lucas Arts adventure games, but with updated graphics and a story that's completely unique to the computer gaming world.

Sanitarium was one of the few games nowadays that actually brings a chill to my spine. Not necessarily because it was scary (though, there were times...), but because surprise plot elements that were revealed were actually interesting. It wasn't just a "oh look, he's a demon" or "oh wow, that guy's evil" plot twist that you find in so many other games.

The thing that adds to the game's atmosphere the most is that it all takes place in a man's own reality. Because of this, the game is not limited by what can and can't be, but every area and object you find is related to, and contributes to the game's plot. Every part of the game you see is coming from some deep recess of the character's mind, some dark, destroyed, warped, fading image of something, and it is a wonderful thing. You will journey into images from his childhood, from the insect-like world from a comic book, to a melting image of his once home, through his mind and destroyed memory all the while trying to understand who you are and what lead up to this. And the second area you visit, with the mutated children - it is one of the most chilling and memorable places I've ever seen in a computer game.

Though it becomes obvious who the real "bad guy" is in the game, you are never distracted from it, because you get the feeling the character in the game suspects as well, but he is more concerned with finding out who it is and what part it plays in his madness.

Puzzles are fairly simple, but I like easy puzzles in adventure games. I love the adventure genre because it often feels more like playing an interactive movie than just killing brain cells playing a computer game, and too many adventure games have ridiculously pointless, impossible puzzles in it.

When you complete some of the more plot-contributing puzzles, you are rewarded with fantastic cinematics. They're all high quality and very well-done. Sometimes they're just a more detailed view of what you just accomplished, and sometimes it's another journey into the character's mind. And you can go back and view them all later, if you want, which I loved.

Even though all the characters in the game were either warped memories of someone from the character's past, or a completely imagined person, most of them were quite interesting and had some actual depth to them. I liked listening to them talk about themselves and coming to realize how they might have spawned from the character's madness.

This game gets my highest recommendation. The adventure genre is dying, but it's because there aren't more games like this.

The Bad
While I grew to love the character in the game, I thought that (especially in the beginning of the game) his voice was annoying. It was acted well enough (though not perfect), but it just had a certain tone to it that was annoying.

Maybe I'm just stupid, but I wish there had been more emphasis or explanation as to some of the parts of the game, particularly the Sanitarium areas, especially the second one, since it seems much less insane than the first one. Were they the character's subconscious realization that he was trapped within his own mind? Or were they spawned from coming in and out of a coma and interacting with doctors? Well, like I said, maybe I'm dumb or missed the reference, but if we were expected to just draw up our own conclusions...well, I don't like that.

Some quests involve asking dozens of characters the same questions over and over. Now, I didn't mind this because most of the characters were so interesting, but some parts had characters that were no different than the one next to it, save for a unique name or something. Though I think there were only two parts where this was necesarry, I think this is the game's biggest drawback.

The Bottom Line
Journey into the mind of a madman and follow the footsteps through your destroyed memory to find out who you are and how you got here. You'll begin to question what is reality and what is madness. This game is one of the best adventure games ever created.

Windows · by kbmb (415) · 2001

One-line summary not available

The Good
As the main protagonist of this game, the player gets involved in a car crash and ends up in a nuthouse. They are trying to figure out who they are and how they got there in the first place. This storyline is similar to Countdown where the player has to escape from an asylum in a certain amount of time. Unlike Countdown, however, the player gets to see the sorry people who ended up at the asylum. The dark and dirty look of the asylum and the constant noise of the other prisoners help create the atmosphere.

Answers to the questions the protagonist has are given through a series of flashbacks (cinematics) he gets throughout his adventure. Sanitarium is supposed to be a game of suspense, so I won't spoil it for you here. Anyway, these flashbacks also focus on his past, and most of these are rather interesting to watch. Some of them are even quite scary, especially the ones toward the end of the game. These flashbacks were probably enough to warrant a 15+ age rating.

Sanitarium is spread throughout nine chapters, with each one containing a distinct atmosphere and represents the real or imaginary world of the protagonist. Each chapter has its own objective for the player to accomplish. I enjoyed playing some of the chapters, particularly the early ones where you are trying to find your way out of the nuthouse; deal with some deformed, innocent children; and kill whoever distorted them. The background music reflects the situation the player is in. I love the energetic music that is played later on in the game.

The protagonist has the ability to transform into different characters, and the player gets to play these characters in every second or third chapter. There are two characters that I like playing as, and one of them is the protagonist's little brat, who, as long as you keep playing her, will churn out those annoying comments that brats usually make. What's more: if you press the function keys, she will churn out such classics like “Wheeeeee!”, “Oh poo!”, and “Uh oh”. The other character is an Aztec god who is trying to save his people from an erupting volcano.

The conversations between the protagonist and the characters are well-scripted, and most of them are related to what you're doing in each chapter. They were easy to follow, and I really enjoyed how angry the protagonist gets throughout the game. The window in which the conversations take place appear in the game quite nicely, and it is good to see the protagonist's face change to reflect what mood he is in.

Some elements of the game are rather disturbing. I just finished playing this game, so I will never forget how deformed the children from Chapter 2 are, especially a girl named Jessie. But what's more disturbing is the fact that something is making them deformed and that it puts them in the dreaded “pumpkin patch”, where bad things happen. As I mentioned earlier, the flashbacks can be quite scary, especially the ones near the end.

The small animation effects are quite nice to look at, and these effects are mostly found in the control panel: effects like the rotation of a symbol when you hover your mouse over it, as well as the way the person's eyes follow the mouse cursor. I also like how a CD icon travels from one end of the screen to the other (in the chapter opening screen) and the way that flashbacks appear.

The Bad
No matter what anyone thinks, almost all of the puzzles in the game are quite hard and have no logic to them. When players are faced with such puzzles, it is just a matter of “click this, click that”, and except for a puzzle near the end of the game, there are no clues to help them solve it, taking them about thirty minutes to complete all of them.

Players are limited to just twenty-five save slots, including a slot reserved for quick-save. Like the recent adventure games I played, Sanitarium is a rather long game, and keeping more than twenty-five slots are necessary for the important events that occur in the game. Seriously, the limit on the number of saves players can have is comparable to those of Sierra's earliest games.

I am not the only one who thinks that disc-swapping is unnecessary. There are about three chapters stored on one of the three game CDs, and players are asked to insert each CD during the game. Disc-swapping is the reason why my old CD-ROM drive died in the first place. If only installation programs ask players to insert each CD while the game installs itself.

The Bottom Line
ASC Games did an excellent job at portraying what life is really like inside an asylum, and it wouldn't take long for players to be hooked; and like Countdown, the entire game doesn't take place in an asylum. Each chapter in the game has players accomplishing tasks that may or may not be related to the flashbacks they have, and the music suits the situation that they are in. The flashbacks are scary, especially the ones toward the end of the game. Finally, it is nice to be certain characters in the game, especially if players are tired of playing the same one all the time.

Players will have no problem playing Sanitarium on Windows Vista, as that OS's capability of running old games like these is high. I really enjoyed playing the game, and would play it again in the near future. What a shame there was never a sequel.

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2008

A bizarre graphic adventure with great potential. One of those games worth a remake.

The Good
The man just found the missing link for a project he's been struggling with for several months. He makes some urgent phone calls to spread the news, and then flees towards the parking lot.
The excitement of the man is contrasted by the night, stormy and full of awful premonitions.
After driving for a few minutes, the man loses control of the car and gets out of the road, falling off a cliff. It all fades to black.

Suddenly, a siren goes off and a harsh voice starts yelling, much like the warden of a prison. The man wakes up in a small cell. The door is not locked, so he gets out into the hall.
He finds himself at the top of some ancient-looking tower, with several cells in which other people are being held. Chilling screaming sounds in the background, coming out of the cells. Clearly, all of these people are mad.
The man's suit and white lab-coat have been replaced by green scrubs. His face is covered by bandages. He can't remember who he is, he doesn't know what he is doing here. He's now another patient at the sanitarium.
The persisting sirens keep ringing, something bad is happening.

From this moment on, Sanitarium will take the player through a journey in which nothing seems to make sense. The very moment it seems like it would, the whole world is suddenly changed into something totally different.

Sanitarium is a point n' click graphic adventure, shown from an isometric perspective. The typical old school use "this" with "that" kind of game.
Gameplay is spiced up with some classic mind-breaking puzzles, and a few action scenes.

The game is divided in ten chapters, and each of them takes place in a totally different location. Sometimes even the character is transformed into someone else. The atmosphere is very surrealistic and will have you totally confused for the first three chapters, at least.
Throughout the ten chapters that form the story, you will have to accomplish several missions which don't seem to be related to one another at first, but slowly start to interconnect, while also giving out hints on the character's background, to finally understand what is all this about.
Supporting the storyline, there are a total of 40 pre-rendered clips, adding up to around 750MB of full motion video storytelling.

The "adventuring" is pretty simple, you can only perform one action per object, and the inventory never grows so large that you get lost. Worst case scenario, if you reach the point where the only solution on sight is the good old try everything on everything, this can be easily done in a few seconds.
The puzzles are cleverly designed, and while they ARE mind breaking, they are also logical enough so they can be figured out with some thinking, no need to be some kind of mind-reader to understand what the hell the developers were into. In fact, the puzzles were one of the things I liked the most of the game.
Finally, as I said, there are a few points of the game in which you will have to fight, but these fights are pretty simplistic, and hardly pose any challenge. It's a way of offering some variety to the gameplay, more than anything else.

The graphics are nothing to write home about, but they do their job correctly, specially considering the unfortunate perspective chosen for the main portion of the game. More on this in a minute.

Hands down, the best part of the game is the atmosphere.
Some people said they were disappointed because they expected a horror story, and as such they think Sanitarium turns too silly near the middle of the game.
Me, on the other hand, I never thought of Sanitarium's genre as horror, but rather as bizarre or absurd; and as such, the more impossible and ridiculous a given situation got, the more I liked the game. All in all, granted, this is a game for a very special kind of public.

Through its surreal ups and downs, the constant premise of the game is "save the children". Every mission starts with children under some kind of inconceivable peril, and you will have to make your best to set them free; the real story is about saving children from something; and a certain child's death marked the main character's background.
The situations the children are put through in the different levels create a very disturbing atmosphere, even though there are no explicitly gore scenes or anything similar. Children are doubtlessly an effective resource in any story which wants to be scary or disturbing.

The background story, once uncovered, is not exactly ground breaking, but it's good anyway, and it has a few brilliant points. The ending itself is pretty smart, holding a slight sense of irony.
I found the story very enjoyable, specially the way it's told, all the twists and turns until the plot itself is fully uncovered.

In my book, this is one of those games that deserve a remake with modern technology. The potential to make an awesome game is all there.

The Bad
The worst flaw of the game is doubtlessly the isometric perspective. I find it inadequate, to say the least, for two main reasons:

First, everything looks too small. Since this is a graphic adventure we need to pick up a number of objects to use; and more often than not you will be missing things because you just didn't see them. Because of this, every time I got stucked I found myself scanning the scenario with the mouse, millimeter by millimeter, to see if I missed something I was meant to pick up. Needless to say, this is really annoying; specially since the character can't run, so walking back to "scan" the places you already been to can take quite some time.

Second, and even worst to my eye, I agree with Coldbringer's review when he says that this perspective puts characters so far away that you can have a hard time getting involved with them. At times it feels like you're watching the scene across the street; something IS happening, but it happens to other people.
There are a couple of points in which the story turns quite emotional, and the atmosphere that the brilliant storytelling tries to create is slightly spoiled this way. At least dialogues should happen in some window which shows the characters closer —come on even the first MONKEY ISLAND had that feature to enhance dialogues.
The dialogue window which shows the faces of the characters is not enough, specially since the faces are totally immobile.
Also, the moments where the game should turn mysterious and even scary get plainly ruined by the perspective.

The other important flaw is the voice acting. Some of the voices sound pretty well, some not that much, but not one single character is convincing enough: they all sound like they were recorded while reading the script for the first time.
On top of that, voice acting for the main character is simply awful. The worst of the whole cast, by a fair margin.

The Bottom Line
Sanitarium is a strange game from its very conception, and for this reason, many people might even hate it: it's not exactly horror, it's not exactly suspense, it's not exactly drama... it's just strange. It can —and will— go from disturbing and terrifying to utterly silly in a split second, before you understand what just happened.

The choice of isometric perspective is unfortunate, to say the least. It makes hard to see the items you need to pick up, at times it makes hard to get involved with the story; and it just doesn't fit the game, period.

However, in my personal opinion, bottom line is the game is totally worth playing for whoever cares about a nicely-told storyline. Not only that, this is in fact one of those oldies which deserves a remake with all the power of current generation PCs.
Once uncovered, the plot itself is not exactly brilliant, but this is one of the cases in which the smart storytelling stands over the storyline itself. It's crafted in a smart way, starting in a confusing nonsense and slowly interconnecting parts and making more and more sense. With a more adequate perspective, a few dramatic changes of cameras, the game has everything else to grow to the extent of a must-have classic.

Windows · by Slug Camargo (583) · 2003

Has some big problems that get partially forgiven because of it's unique-ness.

The Good
There's a lot to like about Sanitarium, it's creepy, it's got a simple and easy interface, it's got fairly decent graphics and sounds but most importantly it's got a remarkably grim and deranged world in which to play in.

The horror in the game is displayed not by gore or massive killing sprees, but with unsettling and disturbing imagery that brings a breath of fresh air (actually decaying, stale air ;D) to the computer monitor. Most of it is really wild, with deformed children, bottled babies, some disturbing examples of how the insane people can get, etc. etc. and it's all very original stuff, with some "homages" paid to several horror movies and novels (I recognized the "Children of the Corn" pretty early on, which is devoted an almost entire sequence) It's all pretty hardcore though, so don't expect to see Freddy Krueger references, try some Lovecraft or stuff like that.

In essence the horror of the game happens more on a psychological level, with the use of suggestive imagery that reaaally puts you in a somber mood. It's no coincidence for instance the recurring theme of children: caged children, mutilated babies, kids having their blood sucked out, deformed kids, etc. As you know, children are the future, the pure representations of hopes and illusions so... well, I'll let you connect the dots yourself while I applaud the designers for making something so utterly disturbing. Oh yeah, and the plot also revolves around dying children... that tell you something??

Speaking of the story itself, the game casts you as a patient in an asylum who can't remember nothing about himself, yet several hints point out that he may not belong there, on the other hand he does suffer from some reaaally twisted delusions and traumas that make up for the bulk of the game. As you move along the story, you'll move between the "real" world where Max tries to come to terms with what's happening to him and a series of weird realities product of Max's insanity... or not?? A lot of these illusions spring from the traumatic mind of Max, but there seems to be some other supernatural events afoot too... This element is really the star of the show the way I see it, the constant ping pong between what seems to be a clear illusion which turns out to be firmly rooted in reality, which can only be explained via some supernatural implications... Is Max really mad?? Is reality (if you'll pardon the pun) really real? This stuff is great!!!

Unfortunately....

The Bad
...Unfortunately the designers chose not to run with said premise and you can actually see the game abandoning that idea around mid-game, and focusing on a sort of "whodunnit" plotline where you become a victim of corporate interest... This effectively "yanks down to earth" the whole game and is a big mistake, since you effectively kill the element that brings most intrigue and power to the game! It is not enough to just throw some freaky images your way to scare you, you have to get involved in them, and you have to have a reason to "want" to see them, as the game started the reason was that what you really didn't knew for sure that all the freaky stuff that happened was part of Max's imagination, after a few chapters that is all abandoned for the sake of giving your character a motive, and making some sort of "possible" plotline... Screw possible! Go with the supernatural!! Go with the unexplainable!! There's where the horror really lurks!!! Ah.... what a waste...

This quite literally killed the "fright factor" for me, and also the immersion with the game, which was already paper-thin. You see, the game uses an isometric perspective from which everything is seen faaaaar, faaaaar away. Things don't happen to you in this game, they happen to a little guy that's a mile away in the computer screen, always in the same angle... Most 2D adventures at least use changes of perspective every now and then to give a more cinematic experience but you get squat here. Add to that the extremely bare-bones way in which dialogues are handled (a small text box which pops up from below with still faces of whoever is speaking on either side), a complete inability to run which forces you to play an adventuresque version of Diablo (except you can't whack monsters around for fun in here) and you've got yourself a game that can't be pretty exhausting if played for a long while.

Other problems come in the form of inconsistent voice-acting. Sometimes it's great, sometimes you skip it as soon as you read it. For instance the kid actors in the game make a remarkable job and come off very natural and realistic, but your character sounds like he overacts each line! He must have attended the William Shatner school of voice acting or something... And I challenge anyone to tell me that Grimwall or Olmec (especially Olmec) sound TOO much like Buzz Lightyear on steroids.

Aside from that there's the fact that the game is pretty simple and straightforward, which I haven't really decided if it's good or bad... maybe it's both.

The Bottom Line
Well, Sanitarium is unique, Sanitarium plays good, Sanitarium works without major problems... Is Sanitarium the best horror adventure ever made?? Nope, neither horror-wise nor adventure-wise. But it is a wild ride, and required playing for lovers of the weird and unique.

Windows · by Zovni (10504) · 2002

An interesting, but unfortunately very eclectic experience

The Good

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.

The Bad

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

Chilling, psychological thriller

The Good
You play an amnesiac car crash victim who wakes up in an insane asylum. Escaping from this burning building begins your Dantean descent into the underworld of your mind.

Incredible gameplay and haunting cutscenes slowly reveal your identity, but the truth may be worse than you can handle.

Great graphics and mostly great controls. Some of the images will stay with you.

The Bad
Puzzles were pretty easy in this game, mostly finding inventory and knowing when to use it. Controls were pretty good but moving up and down stairs could be annoying. This is one of those games I didn't want to see end.

The Bottom Line
Terrifying journey into a fractured psyche. I highly recommend this game, not only for gameplay but for the richness of the story.

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5397) · 2001

Sanitarium is much more than a game, it's an obsession

The Good
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.

The Bad
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

One of most exciting and addicting adventure games I ever played.

The Good
I liked the complex way that such a small story is told in such a complicated way. The cinematics are most impressive.

The Bad
The graphics, but I think the game, generally, makes the player forget about it. And the end of the game made me kind of disappointed.

The Bottom Line
Addictive puzzle-adventure game, with such a complex story that you forget the bugs and the quality of gameplay. Just don't play it with the lights off...

Windows · by Miguel Ferreira (1) · 2004

A spine-chilling adventure game...

The Good
Sanitarium's wonderful atmosphere and plot, with tons of screwed up characters and bizarre locations, sets it apart from most adventure games. And with those gorgeous graphics, good sounds and nice cinematic sequences, it really got me hooked.

The Bad
Some puzzles might be a bit too easy for fans of the genre.

The Bottom Line
A great game well worth playing, if you like entertaining the darker side of your soul.

Windows · by faceless (438) · 1999

Insane... Adictively insane

The Good
I really enjoyes "Silent Hill" for playstation. This was like Silent Hill only longer, more difficult, less violent and not to mention better graphics. Me and one of my friends played this game shortly after I bought it. Now we sit in front of the screen for hours on end trying to advance to the next level. The storyline of this game will grip onto you like a rabid squirrel with a fish hook for a toungue.

The Bad
Some of the puzzles were just a bit elementary for my tastes. The few fighting scenes are also a bit difficult to control, also. Everything else is A-O-K.

The Bottom Line
This game is WIERD. This is a game full of demented and deformed characters, centering around a confused, amnesiac man who suddenly wakes up to find himself in the middle of a very bizarre and disturbing world.

Windows · by Sam Tinianow (113) · 2001

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, COBRA-COBRETTI, Plok, Scaryfun, Patrick Bregger, vedder, jaXen, Emmanuel de Chezelles, marley0001, nyccrg, ti00rki, Gianluca Santilio, Víctor Martínez, Wizo, Xoleras, Alsy.