Shadows, Screams and Infernal Fears: The Penumbra Catalogue

Art can be found everywhere. In nature, in media products, in daily activities, in society – everywhere. If you look close enough, you’ll see thing you never thought you’ll catch a glimpse of. If you live it – it gets better, you’ll know how to love it and to appreciate the efforts of those who worked hard to bring you that sensational artistic value.

In video-games is the same thing. You take a story and you develop it. You create a shape that will guide the player through the action. Of course this is not art, but art comes in video-games as part of the feelings that you can have while playing.

Today we’re gonna discuss the art of the Penumbra Series. What, who and why…stories, consequences, atmosphere, thoughts…

Penumbra is a Survival Horror Game developed by Frictional Games. The story goes like this: in an wild part of Greenland there was a mine complex. Here an accident occurred and something was released from the depths of the earth.

You [the player] received a letter from your father, who was working in that mine and who tried to gain information on the events that occurred. He told you to destroy several documents and never try to find out what happened, but with your curiosity and the need to play a game – you ended up going to that place.

The first sign of art in this game is when you enter the old mines. It is not related to graphics or the proper environment but the image that you can put into your head. Old ammunition boxes, dust, darkness, deadly silence, a creepy and old facility. You know that something went horribly wrong here, yet you choose to explore this God forsaken place.

The element of knowing parts and bits will guide you though the action.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the diary of the last survivor. These documents were so greatly written that I could say I had the chance to read multi-media literature. The way things are described, the feelings they offer – it’s great. One man left alone, trying to survive with little food and tools…spiders growing bigger that usual and which become his  most important meal…the constant fear that keeps watching over him…the solitude.

Everything is well-placed.

The images used are another strong point. Old cages, barb-wired locations, sealed solid doors, putrefying rooms, dusty old rags, zombie-dogs and finally a crazy man that chooses to guide you to his location.

Meeting Red, or at least knowing that he exists [since you first hear from him on the phone] became the point-of-no-return.

From here, things get dangerous. You’ll have to find all the pieces to the puzzle in order to know what is going on. Exploring comes after.

Yup – there is art in the environment presented. A frozen subterranean lake, old caves filled with nasty spiders, the abandoned laboratories, the wall written with blood – all these elements offer greatness.

The first game – Penumbra Overture – rises questions and only a few are answered. The second one, Black Plague will offer much more details about what really destroyed life in those mines.

Black Plague comes as the continuation of the first game’s story. Red wasn’t the only survivor – as we see. New puzzle elements, new foes and new adventures. Even if is a survival horror game, everything in here evolves around adventure.

[to be continued…]

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