Released on P.C earlier in the year, The Town of Light has arrived on consoles but how will it’s unique blend of interactive adventure and psychological suspense perform.
The Town of Light is a game for adults, not because of the shower scene, lesbian tones or rape, but because this is a deep, psychological game that’s going to mess with your brain, many games attempt to do this with horror or bizarre unreal-ism, but the Story of Renee T is instead based on mental health in the 30’s and 40’s before the dawn of modern medicine and the understanding of mental illness.
There’s some dark tones, and some hallucinations to contend with, but the overall direction is incredibly accurate and worst still, the more the game goes on, the more everything seems to make sense, leading up to one of numerous finales which are likely to tug on the heart strings and possibly leave you shocked that such practices did actually happen.
Starting off, you… an visitor without a name, visit a now abandoned mental health institute, carrying flashbacks and speaking with Renee, you’ll explore the central area, opening up flashbacks and memories with a few little search and find puzzles to keep you intrigued, there’s a handful of challenges as you progress but getting used to your surroundings and using the map next to the lift will see you jumping between chapters with ease. Once you reach chapter 6, the story starts to branch out, with decisions you make in conversation selecting your path through the remainder of the story, later on there’s four paths meaning more chance to revisit these areas to see alternate sections of Renee’s story.
Beside the handful of challenges and a few maze-like sections, it’s all pretty straight forward, follow the directions and you’ll find The Town of Light plays out much more like an interactive story than an adventure game.
With such a strong subject, Mental Health is an area that many have encountered in some form. If not, chances are, some time in the future. You, or someone you know will, and that’s where The Town of Light really starts to shine. The portrayal of the human mind and the confusion of your thoughts come across perfectly, providing a tense psychological experience as you slowly unravel the mysteries of Renee’s past.
It’s fair to say that fire hour or so is quite different to the last hour, as the path to he final scenes play at a much slower pace as the story starts to unwind and more aspects of your journey are explained. Sometimes I felt a little more could be done to showcase these discoveries but the cut-scenes and illustrations do a pretty good job.
The overall graphical style is verging on realism, but there’s plenty of effects to signify the confusion and instability of Renee’s mind, It’s not really anything new, and most of the effects have been seen across various other titles in the past, but they’re put to good use in adding tension and confusion to your own thoughts while playing.
Sadly the graphical performance isn’t perfect, with indoor sections running smoothly without any issues, however outdoors, I often had textures popping in and distant objects popping up as I moved forward, considering there’s nothing more than a gentle stroll, it’s disappointing, especially with a handful of stutters a little later in the game.
It’s not a bad showing, and the artistic style of the cut-scenes and the overall descriptive nature of the books and images you’ll find still do a fantastic job of helping to tell the story.
Most impressive of all is the sound. With a melodic soundtrack that suits the titles pace and depth, and sound effects that manage to avoid cheesy jump-scares and instead do a fantastic job of raising the tension while keeping it psychological.
The voice acting is clear, well read and precise and while I played through with subtitles on, I barely remember having to check what I’d just heard.
With less than an evening to complete, you may find The Town of Light a little short, but like a good movie, it’s something you’ll happily experience again, even if only from chapter 5/6 to explore alternate paths and like a nail into the brain, it’s an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.