Penumbra: Overture Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 111 Ratings

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  • Summary: Played from a first person viewpoint, Penumbra is very different from other adventure games. Not only is it powered by a 3D engine utilising cutting edge technology, it also has an advanced physics system which allow for a never before seen environment interaction. The player can open drawers, pull levers, pick up objects and more using natural mouse movements creating a highly interactive and immersive game world. The weapon system differs from your average game; swinging a melee weapon is done using the mouse which increases the realistic feel of combat. Fighting enemies is not something best done with brute force though, in most situations fighting is a last resort and the player is often better of using his/her wits. The AI of the enemies will also do its best to hunt and scare the player. The creatures encountered can break down doors, use group co-ordination, interact with the physics and more. Penumbra: Overture keeps players on the edge as they have to explore scary and immersive environments never knowing what is behind the next corner. The world is detailed, graphical as well as a story wise making the player feel part of the world as secrets are uncovered. [Strategy First] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. The highs definitely outweigh the lows and this game breathes new life into an old genre.
  2. 81
    Where Penumbra really wins through however is in its storytelling and puzzle solving.
  3. At a cost of only £15 for an online download, it's an absolute must for any PC adventure gamers out there.
  4. It’s like a movie that you can recognize as being a well-made effort, but doesn’t actually engage you all that much.
  5. If you're interested in a serious relationship with gaming rather than purely out for a good time, please do take a look at Penumbra. It does some truly clever stuff, has an effectively creepy atmosphere and there's a few signposts in it that action and adventure games alike would do well to follow.
  6. The emphasis on physics adds a unique dimension to Penumbra: Overture. If you're willing to sacrifice story for atmosphere, it's a decent catch for horror fans, but those looking for point-and-click fare may be turned off by unavoidable action elements.
  7. 50
    Penumbra: Overture hits all the old notes like the Stones on their tenth farewell tour.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 3 out of 34
  1. Jul 30, 2011
    This game was awesome. Truly one of the best horrors out there. Great story, great gameplay, and the ending leaves you wanting to play Black Plague right away. Expand
  2. Dec 29, 2013
    My favorite horror game ever made.
    If you are looking to get really scared, Amnesia is for you.
    If you are looking for awesome gameplay,
    Penumbra is for you. Expand
  3. Jul 21, 2012
    just play this game and see for yourself story, gameplay, everything is good with this game but maybe too short but it's cheap and it's a trilogy I like it Expand
  4. Dec 31, 2011
    The atmosphere in Penumbra: Overture is great. It's dark, creepy, lonely, and cold. The physics engine is okay, with some flaws here and there, but nothing worth seriously complaining about. The moving of objects and melee actions can take getting used to, but once you're comfortable with the physics engine, it works okay, although far from perfectly. The game flows through the story smoothly without any frustration or senseless puzzles/problems to be solved. Everything is logical and upfront, requiring a realistic approach and a reasonable amount of thinking to proceed. The save system is unfriendly. It seems to save your progress when you update your personal notes, or when you interact with a certain object within the game world, which the player has little control over when this occurs. This means that you will often have to do certain portions of the game over and over until you get it right. The voice acting is superb. The accent and tone are outstanding and adds to the storyline greatly. All of the texts you will encounter in the game are well written, interesting, and adds plenty to the plot. The controls can be awkward at times in order to accomplish some actions the game requires. Penumbra: Overture is not a scary horror game. Most of its interesting emotional influences on the player comes from the theme of being almost completely solitary in an unknown place that is far from civilization and darkness. There are some instances in the game that requires the rapid change of items in conjunction to platforming and running, which I had to do many times to get it right. There is also a surprising amount of platforming as a whole for a primarily adventure game. Some parts of Penumbra: Overture are really cool, there is no denying that, but it does have a feel of an unpolished low budget title. With that said, this is probably one of the best adventure games I have ever played. It is logical and tense at all the right moments. I am not entirely sure for how long the main character is inside the mine, but the glow stick lasts for the entire duration of the game. You are not forced nor expected to use the flashlight nor the flares, which have finite longevity. I found melee fighting to be clunky and awkward, but this did not detract from the overall gaming experience. The ending is very creepy and will keep you glued to the plot, even though there is much left without explanations. The only major downside is the game's length. It is somewhat short and leaves you with a feeling of unfinished business with a cliffhanger. It took me about 8 hours to complete. Expand
  5. Dec 13, 2012
    Builds a great sense of horror through simple design choices; no weapons, complete isolation, and immersive atmosphere. A survival horror game that requires a lot of forethought and skill to actually survive. Very unique experience with great puzzles and a story that continues straight into the sequel, Black Plague. If you're looking for something to scare your pants off for a few evenings then this and it's sequels are worth getting. Expand
  6. Jun 21, 2012
    Having played Amnesia and being terrified witless, I decided to buy Frictional's first foray into Survival horror, and first game ever. First, the positives. It's very atmospheric; the environments are creepy & unnerving and the first encounter with an enemy is unforgettable. Certain plot elements are well done and the character of Red is memorable. The physics system is just as clever as ever, perhaps even more so than Amnesia thanks to the more grounded setting and difficulty in using doors. Negatives: combat. The problem with the combat isn't that it's sticky or useless, it's because it's there! Something that's scary loses its sting when you can kill it, and fighting in this game you will inevitably find the exploit to easily deal with any enemy you encounter. The plot also relies too much on written notes and your character pointing out the obvious. I wish FG would decide if they want Phillip to be a silent protagonist or not: he goes through a long monologue at the beginning and then seems to lose his voice once the game begins, even when a particular character tries to contact him he still says nothing. Overall though, I liked Overture, and if you're looking for a good spook then I definitely recommend it. Expand
  7. May 18, 2012
    Most survival-horror games try to increase the tension by having you play a character a bit less powerful than your average steroid-using, armed-to-the-teeth action hero, but with Penumbra, Frictional have gone too far and forced you to play as someone apparently suffering from serious mental and physical disabilities. The protagonist is, for example, only ever capable of doing one thing at a time. Say you want to pick up a chair or similar debris to barricade a door. Doing so reduces your movement speed to a crawl, and makes you unable to jump. The same applies to virtually ever object bigger than about 15 cube inches. I'm pretty sure that in real life, I could lift a rock the size of an ostrich egg without having to drag it behind me at snail's pace. None of this is helped by the awkward interface or the broken physics engine. To interact with something, you click on it and move the mouse, so, for instance, to open a desk draw, you'd click on it and pull the mouse back to pull it open. It's pretty cool when it works, but it doesn't always, because obviously the game is 3D and the mouse plane isn't, so having the same control for 'move down' and 'move back' can be frustrating at times. As well as thinking everything it 4 times heavier than it should be, the physics engine clearly uses a lot of shortcuts: take the example near the start where the game tells you to barricade a door: regardless of whether you haphazardly left a single chair in front of it or spent a couple of minutes stacking up barrels, the door and everything in front of it just explodes after a certain amount of time. The whole thing leaves you wondering why the game bothered to tell you to barricade the door when just running away has largely the same result. This brings me to the other option: combat. Say you have a pickaxe. To use it like a weapon, you have to interact with it in the same way as any other item; i.e. click, then move the mouse forward to raise it, pull it back to bring it down. I'm trying not to stray into hyperbole here, but this is seriously retarded. I know the point of survival horror games is that you're not supposed to have an easy time in combat, but not being able to look around is beyond frustrating, especially when you're fighting zombie wolves (the first enemies of the game) which have a habit of jumping through you when they attack. Since you die in only three hits, if you miss then by the time you've turned around and readied for another swing of your weapon, you're already dead. Of course, you can usually avoid combat. What you can't avoid, however, are the asinine 'puzzles' the game throws at you. At one point, you need a 4-digit keycode to get to the next area. The code can be heard in morse code at a radio set. You'd think there might be a leaflet or a poster lying around somewhere in the game area explaining how to decipher morse code, but no. Frictional apparently expected players to just know morse code off the top of their heads. Since I didn't work on a boat in the 1920s, this just leads to an unsatisfying check of the nearest walkthrough. There's another part close to that where you need to get through a door which is barred with a plank of wood. The door is made from iron bars, so quite why exactly you can't just reach through the bars and lift the bar up, I don't know. Also, this is a point in the game where you have the aforementioned pickaxe, which you'd think could just smash this tiny plank. Nope. In fact, it's even immune to sticks of dynamite. So what you have to do is find the one rusty hacksaw in this enormous basement, which begs the question: why not just make so I had to find a key, rather than looking stupid with invincible planks of wood? Then, to get to the next part after that, you have to jump onto a ladder. Somehow, even this becomes a chore when this imbecile you're playing as won't grab on and is for some reason damaged by the 2-and-a-half foot drop when he misses. The next area is where I just gave up on the game: you're crawling around these cramped tunnels that are full of spider eggs, which can apparently sense when someone walks past 15 feet away and instantly hatch. Much like the wolves, they have a tendency to jump through you and kill you in three hits, but this time they're far too numerous, small and fast to try hitting them with a weapon, so you have to shine your torch on them. The problem is, they're a bit slow off the mark, so if one of them is too close when you do that, it'll jump through you, and then there is nothing you can do to avoid dying. You're supposed to block off sections of the tunnel using conveniently shaped rocks, but trying to move boulders around slows you down even more than usual when you're crouched in a tunnel, so you more often than not end up being eaten while dragging them around. Eventually I just gave up in exasperation at this dissappointing, broken game. Expand

See all 34 User Reviews