Well, instead of starting a new topic, I will continue where I left off.
I took a break from Episode 1 in favor of Death to Spies (which you can see my review here)
So I picked up Penumbra: Black Plague not finishing Overture, which is not something I normally do, but I did it anyway. I paid $4.99 for Black Plague at Gamestop. Overall the gameplay is exactly the same, but starting off, the second episode of this series is starting off much better than its predecessor. There is a brief narration at the beginning telling what happened in Overture, but you've really got to play Overture to get the full experience. It's sort of like Half Life 2, sure you can play it without ever having played Half Life 1, but you will miss out on a lot of back story and in-jokes.
Black Plague starts out a little differently than Overture. It starts off right where Overture ended, and you wake up in a cell with nothing but a bunch of garbage around you, and you have to figure out a means of escape. Puzzles in this game are somewhat intuitive. They are much more intuitive than most Adventure games, where the things you do actually make sense in the real world (for the most part). There are times I just desperately needed to look up a puzzle solution online, but it is rare.
The game levels are somewhat linear, but when they open up, you sort of wish you were back to being linear again, because there is just a lot of different places to go and see. Where in Overture, you had to deal with dogs and spiders and other things, now you're contending with mutated humans infected with a virus (hence "black plague" though that's not what they call it in-game). The infected humans are very well designed... ie. creepy as hell. At first I thought there was some blatant nudity going on (which the rating on the cover of the box clearly does NOT indicate) but it appears as though some sort of ... tube has grown from the belly button area down and up around to the .... well it looked like a ****, but it's not. Actually it looks worse, but I digress. (If anything, show me some female mutants, for the love of Lovecraft!)
The environments start off in a hospital-like environment, though clean underneath, is coated with filth and blood which makes the place very creepy a la Silent Hill and Condemned.
Exploring everywhere is vital. It is easy to miss something, but not hard enough to make it impossible. One of the tedious tasks is constantly opening file cabinets and drawers looking for items you'll need, or batteries for your flashlight. (which, is sort of a pain, because batteries don't last very long, yet you find tons of them... so which is preferable? Finding lots of batteries and having to keep changing them, or finding very few batteries but making them last realistically longer?)
Don't let the low-res menu graphics fool you, this game is polished. I've had no trouble running this on my machine on full-quality, and everything is very cool looking. There's not much to the sounds, you'll get some dramatic music playing when you are chased, and some ambient while you're looking around. You'll get sick flesh ripping and screams, and overall very creepy audio ambiance as well, so this game ain't for the kiddies.
If you've ever played the Journeyman Project 2 or 3, then you'll know what this next part is like... Eventually, you discover that you in fact are infected and have to find a cure. In the meantime, you develop a sort of alternative personality you can hear, a voice in your head like Arthur from Journeyman Project 2 and 3, though this one is slightly more malicious. It's a nice change of pace to actually hear people... uh, person....well something talking.
As far as other character NPC interactions, they apparently "borrowed" the "Sadistically Funny-Yet-Sad Voice Over the Loudspeaker" theme that Portal kicked ass in doing, with random announcements by some automated announcement system saying things along the lines of "Viral biologists are encouraged to not take their work home with them." They're not quite as punchy and LOL funny as Portal, but they are witty in themselves and I give that a thumbs up.
Also, there is a female in there you communicate with via computer linkup that you eventually go off to try saving who may or may not have the cure.
Overall, the game is actually worth more than I paid for it, because it delivers a truly chilling gaming experience with nice logic problem solving, and horror, and action. If you are into any of that, I would suggest stopping by your local gamestop and picking up a copy.... I haven't gotten to the end yet, but even if it sucks, the gameplay is enough to warrant a buy for $9.99 (or $4 if you can grab that)
One thing to note, I had some trouble getting it to run after it installed, but this was fixed by installing their patch.
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