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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 Main game screen
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows Someone must have been desperate.
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows This bulldozer will come in handy.
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Windows Introduction story

Promo Images

Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Screenshot
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Screenshot
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Screenshot
Penumbra: Overture - Episode 1 Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "Пенумбра: Темный мир" -- Russian spelling
  • "Пенумбра 1. Истоки зла" -- Russian spelling (1C Company release)
  • "Penumbra: Przebudzenie" -- Polish title
  • "Penumbra Overture" -- Steam edition
  • "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 (514351)
The most unusual adventure of recent time, but is it enough? Windows St. Martyne (3655)
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
Gameplay (Benelux) Windows Mar 30, 2007 85 out of 100 85
Linux Format Linux Nov, 2007 8 out of 10 80
AppleLinks.Com Macintosh Apr 06, 2008 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Worth Playing Windows May 18, 2007 8 out of 10 80 PC Gaming Windows May 08, 2008 7.5 out of 10 75
FOK!games Windows Apr 23, 2007 73 out of 100 73
GameStar (Germany) Windows Apr 25, 2007 69 out of 100 69
GameBoomers Windows May, 2007 C 50
1UP Windows May 16, 2007 5 out of 10 50


Topic # Posts Last Post
Episode 2 = Final? 3 St. Martyne (3655)
Nov 06, 2007
Question on Episode 2 and some theories about Red 11 Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze (589)
Jul 31, 2007


The puzzle where a key needs to be retrieved by putting a newspaper under the door was also used in Fiend, Thomas Grip's first real game.

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Contributed to by Sciere (514351)