Italian developers LKA bring a unique horror puzzler in the form of The Town of Light, relying on storytelling and thought-provoking material to pull you through the experience.
“If you think you have psychological problems, please speak to a local doctor or specialist” is the opening disclaimer before you start the game. One might think that this disclaimer is an unnecessary one, considering many titles that come before it involve an abundance of violence without relevant disclaimers, but the more you start to experience this title, the more you realise why this is needed. Experience being the key word here, as this is a psychological horror title with inventive puzzles and no combat. Instead, you’re left to deal with the eeriness of the asylum that your character, Renée is walking around in, finding answers to her past.
It’s also important to know that the asylum is based off of a real asylum in Italy, brought to fruition by research the developers have delved into, creating an ‘artistic interpretation’ of said asylum. You can tell a lot of work has gone into the research, providing an insight into actual patients that once resided at the Charcot Asylum in Volterra, Tuscany, so much so, that as you’re playing and experiencing the asylum, you can’t help but wonder for yourself, how lonely this place must’ve been for the patients that once resided here.
As Renée, you’re investigating your forgotten memories of when you were brought to the asylum at 16 years of age, where entering certain rooms will trigger flashbacks of the insane procedures, the patients used to endure. As you’re progressing through the asylum, and unravelling the secrets, you’re left to contend with Renée’s own demons and blurred lines between reality and psychosis, wondering if this is the past or the present for Renée. As you approach key locations in the asylum, soft melancholic music will play indicating that you’re on the right path, although if you’re lost, Renée will give you pointers from what she can recall from memory.
Wandering through the asylum and learning about the patients leaves an overwhelming feeling of despair, one that you wouldn’t expect to feel when playing a video game, leaving you with nothing but empathy for the patients and Renée herself, providing a deep, meaningful story that makes you want to research the asylum for yourself…Yes the asylum exists and pictures have been sourced and it’s incredible how much detail the developers have put into bringing the asylum to life, not to mention how accurate it looks.
Moving on, certain actions and choices you make throughout your venture around the asylum will change the outcome for Renée so more than one play through is needed, should you wish to experience the other storylines for her. There are no jump scares for the hell of it, in fact the developers don’t want you to be scared at all, they want you to understand and feel what the patients felt, which they have done an impeccable job with.
The Town of Light is available now and can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £15.99.
A horror experience like no other, offering a unique insight into patients and procedures of an asylum before its closure. With a story that’s not only thought-provoking but relevant even today, you’ll be left with unusual feelings of despair and empathy that’s rarely found within a game.