The Town Of Light Review
For purposes of transparency this review was completed using a review code provided by Wired Productions. The use of a press release code does not affect my opinion.
The Town of Light offers a very unique take on how to approach a game, telling a true story about true atrocities that have happened. Taking the approach of some great movies, and really opening your eyes to some horrors on the way.
The first thing I loved about The Town of Light to go with the game being based on true events, you play the game in the true location as well. The game is set in the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum in Tuscany, Italy. Which was closed down following an order from the Italian Government in the 1970’s to close such places and return the human rights of the patients. But, even thought it was shut down the building still remains to this day, and Wired Productions have based it on the building as it stands.
Now how does the game open your eyes to the horrors? The game does this by telling you the story through the eyes of sixteen year-old Renee, who is suffering from mental illness or at least the symptoms of it. The story is created using true accounts of the Volterra asylum, and will see you discover what happened with this patient. At the same time and most importantly you will also discover the truths about the Town of Light.
The game is played out by you controlling Renee from a first person view as you navigate around the now derelict asylum, picking up doctors notes, objects and unlocking more of the story. The story comes in nicely animated cut-scenes, black and white flashbacks that you are in control of, or in some cases the doctors notes being read out – which you will respond to, as if your Renee’s thoughts or voice in her head. This pretty much makes up the gameplay element of the game, you need to explore the asylum and uncover the horrors of what happened.
Now moving back to the responding when reading the doctors notes, depend how you respond Renee could behave differently. There is four out comes of each storyline – Rationalism, Disassociation, Obsession, and Depression. The path that is taken can all depend on Renee’s defensive barrier, if she is trying to repress the pain of remembering. However, the game will ultimately end in the same way.
Visually the games does a really good job of catching the derelict feeling while you are exploring the asylum. There is some rough edges to the graphics, and the character models in the flashbacks aren’t the strongest you will see – but, you have to remember this is an indie title. One thing the visuals and the style does catch is that uneasy feeling, that I feel you would get if you were exploring in person as well. As I have also previously mentioned when it comes to some of the cut-scenes these are animated, and for me the art style in these really suits the subject of the game.
The game uses the sound very well the create suspense and the feeling of dread, which is clearly what the patience would have felt. The suspense created also gives it that eerie feeling, which with the help of the visuals gives that awful nervous feeling while exploring Volterra’s derelict remains. Add this suspense little noises around the place, and you really do expect some jump scares that don’t happen, but that is not what the game is about; so it’s not needed. However this outlines the strong use of the sound in this game, and that it puts you on edge.
My first play-through of the game took me about three and half hours to complete, but there is some parts where I missed things – but, as this would ruin parts of the game I do not want to mention what it was. There is also the possibility to go back and play it again because of the possible differences depending on your choices in the aforementioned doctors notes. The reason for that is you could also gain more information about the story by getting different outcomes from your selection.
Now, the game did come with a few issues; the main one being it did crash on several occasions, this was normally when switching to either the flashbacks or the animated cut-scenes. However, these could easily be patched and could happen if there is a day one patch – I really think it will be patched out as well. The reason I think this is when first playing the game I was noticing quite a few screen-tears, but then a patch was released and these have disappeared.