The Town Of Light Bucks Horror Tropes, Out Now

Historically, issues of mental health have been too often subjected to misrepresentation in modern media, assuming the false correlation that mental illness is something to be feared. Videogames are as guilty of this as any other medium, and when The Town of Light [official site] first surfaced in 2014 via a crowdfunding campaign, it appeared to follow suit – after all it is set an asylum. Luckily, there’s more to it than that, and its release today means you can now find out why.

Psychological thriller The Town of Light marks the debut project of Italian studio LKA that takes place in the real life, but now disused, Volterra Asylum. An impressive 7,000 square meters of the real building have been recreated for players to explore and events unfold through the eyes of the fictional 16 year old Renée, who has returned to the past in order to retrace her formative years living within the psychiatric institution.

In the late 1970s, a change in Italian law saw the closure of all asylums across the country in an effort to reinstate patients’ civil rights, and while Volterra is now closed, Adam had the chance to visit the site last month. He praised how well LKA have tied the history of the setting to the tone The Town of Light hopes to convey:

“There are no chase sequences, there’s no clumsy combat and there isn’t a single supernatural entity in sight. There are bumps in the night though. And bumps in the day, for that matter. There is cruelty and abuse and imprisonment and fear. The Town of Light might not be a horror game but it is absolutely horrifying and the fact that it’s based in the history of a real place, and the wider social history of mental health treatment, makes its terrors and grotesques all the more affecting.”

In the same piece, Adam notes that LKA insist The Town of Light is not a horror game – not in the conventional sense, at least – that it’s simply exploring themes that are often wrongly portrayed elsewhere.

The Town of Light is out now on Steam for £12.45 with an 11% discount – a deal which for the next two weeks also includes the game’s soundtrack, a digital art book, and a copy of Renée’s digital diary. Here’s the game’s launch trailer:

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4 Comments

  1. thelegendofjonnii says:

    I got a chance to play a prerelease version of the game. I can easily agree that while this game doesn’t thrive on cheap jump scares like most games nowadays the game is definitely horrifying in its own ways. It starts out a little slow but the game picks up more and more as it progresses almost to a point where it snowball effects into one of the craziest endings I have ever had to witness.
    I did a lets play for those that may be curious:

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    Huh, I’m quite exited by this prospect. A horror game about mental ilness that doest just try to throw “Spooky blood spattered psychopats” or “Spooky ghosts that appear because mental ilness is somehow inherently supernatural”.
    Getting horror out real life treatment of people with mental ilness, from the nature of our society, amazing!
    Personally I’ve been scared more by world war movies ( Schindlers List, Pianist etc) rather than ghost or slasher flicks. So I’m definetly looking forward to this.

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    caff says:

    This is what I’ll play this weekend.

  4. CarthAnne says:

    As someone who has been in hospital for mental illness, I couldn’t be more excited that a game has finally come out with the intention to address the issue in a serious but not at all prejudiced or stereotypical manner. AS SOON as I read this article I went to buy the game on steam, and though what I’ve played so far is unpolished, its quite promising, and I can’t wait to play more. I’m hoping it does really well.