Penumbra: Requiem Review
Posted November 14, 2010 by Jallen (186)
So the rather long, and frankly boring reason why I’m reviewing a two year old game can be found in the review of either of the prequels; Overture or Black Plague. I really don’t want to go over it again so read the intro to those two if you want to know.
This is a direct sequel to Penumbra: Black Plague but you really don’t need to know anything about that. You’ll know a lot of the lore if you’ve played the previous games and will recognise the voices of certain characters but that’s it. You’ll get to hear Philip’s old friend Red again and a couple of random doctors for the second game. All you need to know about the plot is; there isn’t one. Yes Frictional Games was clearly quite happy with the way that the series ended and this is nothing more than a non-secular expansion pack based entirely within Philip’s mind in his last moments alive.
So as an expansion pack you can expect more of the same right? Wrong, whatever made Penumbra what it was has completely been lost. The eerie dark oppressing atmosphere is gone, in no small part because you’ve now got a torch with infinite battery capacity. There are no enemies lurking around the corner waiting to rip you limb from limb, in fact there is very little to be worried about. Meaning you’re free to wonder around without any fear or hesitation.
In previous games you rummaged through draws, found items, and then with the help of notes left around, would figure out a use for that fuse or how exactly you would reformat a computer system. This game though has no notes telling you what to do and you don’t even make use of the inventory. Instead everything is solved outside your hammer space making use of the games impressive (if not slightly annoying) physics engine. So when you’ve got to replace a fuse you’ve got to pick it up and man handle it, with it hovering in-front of your face, until you can physically place it into the fuse box. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for why Philip can no longer take advantage of this advanced trouser transportation technology (A.K.A pockets) but it certainly does make everything more annoying.
Now that the puzzles have been reduced down to simple find object and place in the correct slot; you won’t find any of the challenges the previous games offered. The game doesn’t really focus too much on puzzles either. Instead the game is mostly about platforming. Yeah the first person horror click and point adventure game has turned into a simplistic platformer seeing you jump around on floating wooden boxes, traverse pits using automated crane mechanisms and use pistons to cross acid filled pits. It doesn’t really gel with the rest of the series and to add insult to injury these aren’t going to test your platforming skills in any sense of the word.
For the most part thought the physics engine has been improved, I can’t tell you joy I had when I was dragging around a long heavy metal beam and was about to attempt to carefully place it across a gap only for the beam to snap in place. This is a vast improvement over the previous games that forced you to wrestle with objects to attempt to get them in place. Of course outside of the few “snap to” puzzles the objects will still be rather suborn and not sit quite the way you want them to.
Outside of that though there is little to recommend, the voice acting is once again good but without any coherent story it’s just random babbling with little relevance. If you’re really interested in the state of Philips mind then it you might garner some insight but nothing you wouldn’t have already assumed after playing the first two games.
All in all this expansion is a bit of a disappointment. It focuses on one aspect of previous games which to begin with wasn’t that great and rarely ever happened. Clearly not a lot of love and attention went into Requiem making the swan song of Penumbra the worse in the series and definitely a miss for all but harden fans…who probably already bought it when the game came out…who’s this review aimed at again?
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