It’s no secret that the United States went through a dark time in the early 1900’s when asylums across the country were overloaded with the sick, mentally-disabled and the many souls who were merely lost and misguided. Some asylums, like Pennhurst in Pennsylvania, were accused of severe mistreatment ranging from sexual abuse to physical abuse and overcrowding and poor conditions. Places like that were true hell holes. But The Town Of Light tells the story about the horrible conditions at an Italian asylum and one girl’s horrifying experience.
Going into the game, I had no idea what to expect. You start out at the outside of the now-abandoned asylum in an overgrown yard, and at first it was a little confusing to understand where I should go or what I should do. I explored and eventually figured out the controls and found my way inside. The controls are fairly easy—I played on my PC using an Xbox controller and it worked perfectly, no lag or anything while moving around. Most of your actions are controlled by one button, which makes things pretty easy. Luckily, opening doors doesn’t rely on the player clicking, holding and dragging, so it’s a simple click and the door opens for you. You have no idea how much easier and more comfortable that makes the gameplay.
I wouldn’t describe this game as a...game. I think I would describe this as more of an interactive story that delves into a disturbing historical experience. The gameplay heavily relies on exploration, but I got lost several times. Luckily, there’s a nifty tool that when you press the select button, the main character, Renee, tells you exactly where you need to go. Without that, I would be wandering around the asylum aimlessly trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.
The story is pretty riveting and if you don’t know already, the things that happened to Renee in her story actually happened to patients in real life. But the story was pretty much the only thing that held me in this interactive experience. I didn’t know what I was supposed to expect from the environment. Sometimes I’d see a wheel chair wheel spinning by itself before stopping in front of me and I’d sort of expect something to jump at me from the shadows, but it never did. There wasn’t really anything to fear in the environment and I quickly started to realize this wasn’t a horror game or an atmospheric terror, this game was about the terror in the young girl’s experience at the asylum. It was almost a history lesson, which I found quite fascinating. While it wasn’t the experience I was hoping to have, and sometimes had boring gameplay, I admire the developer for really doing their research on an important part of history and bringing it to the video game industry.
In its own way, The Town Of Light was terrifying, but not in the way you would think. Sometimes the terror isn’t in the fictions our minds create, but in the cruel realities of the real world we live in.
This game is being reviewed on the PC.