Hands-on: Penumbra: Black Plague

I recently got the chance to sit down and try my hand at publisher Paradox Interactive’s first-person horror adventure game, Penumbra: Black Plague. The little time that I had with the game definitely sparked my interest in getting my hands on a full retail copy of the game when it is released next week.

Black Plague is the sequel to last year’s Penumbra: Overture, which was the first project undertaken by Swedish developer Frictional Games. That particular title was originally developed as a tech demo, and as noted in Kyle’s review, may have been a little rough around the edges as a result.

Things seem to have been cleaned up a bit in Black Plague, though, in terms of visuals, gameplay, and storyling. The developers also claim a longer adventure, which was a common target for complaints about the first episode.


Mess hall


So what is this game? Well, it is what one might get if they took a classic adventure game set somewhere inside H.P. Lovecraft’s head and put it in the shoes of an FPS in real-time, then added a robust physics engine and stuck a Wii-mote inside of your computer’s mouse. In other words, it’s a fairly unique experience.

The big draw of Black Plague is that everything is done with the physics engine. To search a room, you grab and pull and swing and twist various boxes and drawers and doors and levers with a click-and-drag mouse action. This is meant to immerse the player in the game world, making their actions correspond more directly to the protagonist’s. The developers want the player’s real hand represented in the game’s virtual space. Heck, even combat appears to be accomplished by swinging your mouse back and forth to bludgeon enemies.

Combat is not the focus here, however. This game is an adventure at its core, and survival is usually dependant on one’s ability to avoid conlfict. There is even a stealth system that rewards players for getting into the shadows (granting better vision) and punishes them for looking at their predators (possibly alerting them to your presence). The aim in this game is to solve puzzles in unique and intuitive ways using the game engine, and to let the story unfold before you – without peeing your pants.


Scary place


Like I said earlier, I look forward to playing Penumbra: Black Plague in it’s entirety, and should have plenty more to say about it next week. The game will be released on February 12th, and will be available for download at Gamersgate.com for the bargain price of $19.99.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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