You start Penumbra: Black Plague locked in a prison cell. Thereís a dirty cot on the floor, a vise grip, and a few other oddities in the room. Moving around the claustrophobic surroundings, youíll hear a prison neighbor scream in agony when someone enters their cell. That begins the task of finding an exit for your protagonist. You know OJís lawyers arenít coming to visit you.|
Black Plague is a first person horror game that comes with a fairly basic tutorial that teaches you how to move around, jump, and manipulate items. However, it is a first person shooter in so much as it uses the first person camera for what feels more like a horror adventure or survivalist game. This game could easily have been a classic adventure game but the first person element gives it more immersion. Instead of merely pixel hunting on the screen or putting items A and B together, Black Plague extends this immersive experience by utilizing gesture based mechanics. To open the vise grip, you have to move your mouse in a rotating direction. To move something from one place to another, you have to literally gesture it towards the area you want to move. Things donít just snap on automatically like other games. To wedge a door open, you have to literally pry it open with a mouse gesture.
This isnít a horror game like F.E.A.R. where the first thing that comes up at you, people start opening up with their machineguns. In fact, most of the time, youíll only be wielding a flashlight or a glowstick. Blunt objects make up for the battle sequences, which like using objects for puzzle solving, youíll have to literally swing your mouse to hit someone. Black Plague is like the environmental puzzles of Half-Life without the action sequences but mixed in with horror elements.
In terms of graphics, Black Plague has a very dark and gritty feel to it. Everywhere you look, itís dirty, dank and there is this film-like grain to all the graphics. Iím sure it was intentional artistic direction on the part of the developers. Dim lights and sound effects also help create tension and horror.
I read that Black Plague is a follow up sequel to Penumbra: Overture, a game released earlier in 2007, unplayed by me. The survivalist theme doesnít really require you to play the game before. Things canít get any more understandable than escape a prison cell. But the story does continue on from the previous game by following the protagonist Phillip and his search for the fate of his deceased father. Fans of the game will definitely want to keep their eyes open for this one.
Black Plague is scheduled to be released for the PC in Q1 2008.
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