Penumbra: Requiem PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Frictional Games
Release Date: Out Now
Penumbra Overture: Episode One was supposed to be the first in a three part survival-horror story but it didn't turn out that way. When the second game in the series, Penumbra: Black Plague was released it turned out to be not only the game's second episode but also its conclusion. With the storyline completed then, it's rather strange to have another Penumbra title, Penumbra: Requiem, which claims to tie-up the loose ends from the first two episodes. Penumbra: Requiem isn't a standalone episode however and you'll need to have Penumbra: Black Plague installed before you attempt to install the game.
In case you haven't played any of the Penumbra games before a little explanation is in order. Essentially the games are a physics-based first person survival-horror adventure. The Penumbra games aren't your typical adventure experience however, as the puzzles are solved in a more realistic and logical way. Essentially the game uses an advanced physics system that allows you to manipulate items in a similar way to how you would in the real world. You grab hold of objects using your mouse and interact with them in as realistic a fashion as possible. In the Penumbra games you play as Philip, a young man who has received a letter from his father. The problem here is that Philip's father abandoned him and his mother three months before he was born. Philip goes in search of his father who he believes to be in Greenland in an underground complex. Unfortunately it's far from a happy reunion and Philip soon finds himself in a living nightmare. The first two games are certainly worth checking out if only for their originality (you can read our reviews of Overture here and Black Plague here).
In terms of the Penumbra storyline, Penumbra: Requiem is redundant as Overture and Black Plague completed it. In fact there's practically no storyline to speak of in Requiem and the game (well it's an expansion pack for Black Plague really) simply feels like an excuse to give you more of the same game-play to experience. Without the storyline to drive it forward the experience does suffer somewhat and I think I would have rather seen another storyline using the same game-play rather than an attempt to wring out more of a completed storyline. Requiem is strictly for those who want to try their hand at more puzzles.
In terms of its presentation Requiem is pretty much the same as the other Penumbra titles. The graphics are of the same standard and whilst they don't particularly excel, they look good enough and won't put too much of a strain on your system, if you only upgrade your hardware every few years or so. The game is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. As with the previous Penumbra titles, there are no captions and deaf gamers will be completely unaware of the game's eerie ambience.
Without adding to the storyline Penumbra: Requiem is basically a series of logic and physics-based puzzles with occasional echoes of the previous two Penumbra titles. That's not to say it isn't worth around four hours of your time and at just €9.99 it's certainly not expensive but those wanting anything more than just the puzzles will feel disappointed. Given that we've had three Penumbra titles after all, it's a shame that episodes two and three were compressed into Black Plague when the storyline could have been kept to the originally planned three episodes. The need to release an addition with practically no storyline would then not have arisen. The series as a whole needed a richer storyline to complement the enjoyable game-play and it's a real shame it was so lacking in this respect.