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PS4 Game Review

The Town of Light


Format: PS4
Publisher: Wired Productions
RRP: £15.99
Click here to buy -
Age Restrictions: 18+
Release Date: 06 June 2017

Play through the eyes of Renée, a 16-year-old girl who suffers from the symptoms of mental illness. She is searching for answers to the many questions from her past, whilst exploring the place where she spent most of her youth. Guide Renée through a dark and emotional journey where the lines between entertainment, storytelling and reality blur. Based on extensive research and inspired by real events, The Town of Light is a first-person psychological story adventure game set in the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum, based in Tuscany, Italy...

Review imageWhen is a game not a game? The answer to this is probably when it’s The Town of Light a new game published by Wired Productions.

The team have set out to convey to the player what it is like to experience mental illness. To this end they have lovingly recreated a real dilapidated mental hospital situated in southern Italy. The run-down corridors, broken windows and corners full of dread and shadows add a lot of atmosphere to the game.

The environments are highly detailed and it is the interaction with your surroundings which uncovers Renée’s story. The odd thing is that for a game, for want of a better word, which tries to explain the tragedy of mental ill health and the horrors of early treatments, with it dehumanising effects on the treated, it adds elements of the horror genre, twisting your perspectives and adding unnecessarily incongruous odd movements of the building. The faux horror feel is further enhanced by the soundtrack and a creepy-arsed doll.

Review imageYou play Renée, who had been confined to the sanatorium in nineteen thirty-eight at the tender age of sixteen. What she endured is shown in flashbacks as she hunts through the decaying corridors and wards for answers to what had happened to her. Your job is to explore, finding and reading documents that have been left behind which in turn trigger memories.

The memories are represented by a mixture of 3D and traditionally animated cut scenes. These are effective in showing the levels of ill health suffered and how these led to abuses of both mind and body by the institution. The story is well balanced and while the memories are often distressing the doctors and nurse are not wholly portrayed as particularly sadistic. Often abuses are enacted by people with the best of intentions with inadequate resources, even if in retrospect their help was misjudged.

One of the problems The Town of Light possesses is the lack of much to do which is meaningful. There are lots of things to examine, but much of the environment remains only window dressing. There are a few, simple puzzles to complete, like turning the power back on and turning on lights, but even if this turns out to be a chore the game will eventually hand hold to the point of telling you where to go and what to do.

Review imageThe one real frustration was opening and closing things, whether they are doors or window shutters. If you are too close then they only partially open, forcing you to step back to open them fully, only to feel that now you are too far away and yet they still open. It may seem like a small point but it gets irritating after a while.

It's best to think of this as less of a game and more a harrowing experience and in this respect, it works well, balancing the survival narrative of personal madness set in a world where the cure is often worse than the disease.


Charles Packer

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