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Penumbra: Black Plague - PC - Preview

Earlier this year, Paradox Interactive released an innovative take on the adventure genre with the original Penumbra: Overture. The game was a scary and atmospheric take on the horror-adventure genre, and offered first-person shooter controls along with an exploration mechanic that made for a compelling and frightening quest. Now, not even a year later, Paradox and developer Frictional Games are readying the next and final chapter to the Penumbra saga with Penumbra: Black Plague. The game presents the same brand of atmospheric chills as the original game, as well as the unique control scheme. Fans of the original can look for the next chilling installment of the Penumbra franchise to hit early next year.

Penumbra begins with the protagonist, Phillip, locked in a room and still trying to figure out the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his father. Upon inspecting the room, he discovers that he is not the first person to be held there, as there are several clues scrawled out on the walls in order to give him hints on how to escape from the room and survive on the outside.

While it’s a horror-adventure game, Penumbra: Black Plague does things a bit differently than other games in the genre thanks to its interesting control scheme. The game is physics-based, requiring you to use the mouse cursor like a Wii-mote almost, twisting it around to open doors, unscrew screws, and turn handles throughout the game. You’ll also be required to move objects and obstacles out of the way by lifting them and putting them elsewhere.

Aside from the cursor mechanic, the game feels a lot like an FPS game. You use the WASD keys to move around the environments, and you can duck into smaller areas and crawl through crawlspaces, which should feel comfortable for most gamers who have played a first-person shooter.

One of the game’s key strengths is the sense of atmosphere that it conveys. The environments are very dark and brooding, looking broken down and dilapidated. The game is very atmospheric, too, with some truly frightening moments and a dark sense of ambience throughout. The textures are also pretty nicely done, looking fairly detailed at times.

Penumbra: Black Plague is shaping up to be an nice addition to the Penumbra franchise, and while the preview build didn’t divulge much in the way of the game’s story elements, it showed promise for fans of the original game. Check it out in early 2008.

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