There was a game that caught my eye a while ago, that game went by the name of Penumbra - small title and produced on a shoe-string, but the main thing was that it was widely enjoyed by an eclectic fan-base all across the net. Now it is 2007 we're heading towards the release of Penumbra: Overture, the ramped up retail version of the game basically.
Right from the get go this game is a stunner coming from a development team of 4 people, that's right, just 4 developers created something as addictive and enthralling as the game looks to be from the preview code we received. I won't even get into the supernatural/horror style storyline with freaky encounters and so on here, that's going to be in a full review.
Basically Penumbra: Overture is an action/adventure game that takes a number of those conventions and presents them in a different manner. There's a variety of solutions to the physical environment problems and creatures you encounter for example.
You can get past a guard dog by using stealth, which is indicated in a similar way to Chronicles of Riddick where the screen has a blue tinge when you're hiding in shadows etc. It brings in an element of fear where you can't look at the creature for too long or you might...well...we'll leave that for the review.
You can also use the environment to your advantage as a distraction or as a way to eliminate a troublesome creature (the guard dog for instance). An explosive drum might be a good area effect weapon. Or a fire extinguisher could make an excellent blunt device to use against the dog...but there are usually consequences to your actions. A loud explosion might draw something much nastier and bigger to see what's going on.
You can obviously tell that Penumbra: Overture is a labour of love. You also have to remember that these developers don't have a mega-budget and everything that they've done so far has been beyond the scope of most games produced on a budget like this. They aren't setting out to compete with Half Life 2 or the big names, but to bring a popular title back and produce it with a better graphics engine, better environments and a much slicker feel to the original.
They have done wonders with their graphic engine and atmosphere to the game so far, the feel of being slightly outgunned and outnumbered by the game world is prevalent and you don't actually appear to be a super hero or some kind of muscle bound particle physicist (not as though there's anything wrong with that) - it is refreshing to play a hero who feels mortal and vulnerable.
The graphics engine is decent, the physics system is something that could use a tiny bit of work but this was only a preview. I am sure near the release date that the game will receive a few more optimisations and the developers are hard at work fixing issues and bugs.
I have high hopes for this one as long as gamers remember it's not a mega-budget title but one that deserves a spot in the limelight for going above and beyond the call of duty for a game of this calibre. There will be a detailed and full review when the game is released and if you haven't already checked out our Q&A with the game's developers you can do so on this Link here