I have fond memories of Sanitarium, some of which may not be entirely deserved. The game came into my hands at a time when I associated point and click adventures with humour, so my troubled teenage mind was delighted to find such a game starring a man on a journey through his own fractured mind. He had bloody bandages wrapped around his face, screams were cut short as shadows ensnared one another and a man stood in a corner, thwocking his forehead against a wall and leaving a red bruise on the rusted metal. Happy times! It was the journey through different worlds – including twisted fantasy tropes and a sinisterly depleted rural town – that kept my interest. Shades of Sanity, a spiritual successor is seeking $200,000 of Kickstarter money.
Apart from the endearingly hesitant comedy acting, there are several points of concern. Obviously, a coffin crushing a crib is cause for all manner of health and safety concerns, but it’s the 3d that gives me doubts. Not that an adventure can’t work in 3d, but so much of Sanitarium’s appeal lay in the imaginative 2d art. Clearly what we’re seeing in the video is early work, but it doesn’t have the strangeness or atmosphere I’d hope for.
That said, the text on the page is more promising than the video. Alternate difficulty levels for puzzles and action is a positive, and I’m glad to see more developers exploring the Frictional niche – there’s plenty of fertile ground to be found in first-person exploration and horror.
In other related news, I’m seeing Asylum at some point during Gamescom, which is exciting. Despite my occasional grumbles about horror games set in Obviously Scary Places, I’m intrigued. Scratches was far more frightening than I expected it to be.