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6 Jun 2017

EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: The Town of Light - Xbox One

"Play through the eyes of Renee, 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 Renee 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, the asylum was shut down in the late 1970's by a law from the Italian government instructing all asylums to close and give back patients their civil rights. Explore the asylum as it stands to this day and uncover the good and bad in human nature."

This is a really hard game to review, mainly due to the fact I cant really call it a game, and by that I mean it is more like playing a book, a life simulation whereby you don't really have much control, you just go through the motions.

This is a game you simply do not enjoy playing, you endure it, but it is hard to turn away.
There is no real jump out moments, no scares, but it does leave an uncomfortable imprint on your mind.

I have never quite played a game like this, and before I started I expected it to be a bit like Xbox One game Life Is Strange which was an incredible game, and there are a few similarities in that certain actions you take can affect the story, but these are limited compared to Life is Strange.

The biggest problem with The Town of Light is that if you are playing this without any real knowledge of the game, you will either find yourself walking about for hours having no idea what you are supposed to do, where you are supposed to go or you will just turn it off and thing it is rubbish. But I almost think that you are more likely to get something from this "game" if you play it with a walkthrough in your hand, a few maps of the locations and a general idea of what you are supposed to do. Yes you will end up finishing the game much quicker, but like I said this is not really a game, there is no real replay potential outside of the few storyline choices, and trying to get your gamerpoints (or trophies on PS4), so think of it like a book you will read through, and once you have finished it, it will make you think, and you might even go back and re-read a chapter just to understand it better.

The game itself is a remake/port of a PC game, so there is already plenty of information on the game out there, and other than a few Graphical improvements, the game as far as I can see is pretty much the same.

When you do finish the game, you do feel like you have achieved something, but not necessarily in a good way. I finished it last night, and then found myself thinking about it throughout the night. It didn't give me nightmares, but it did really make me think about the experiences of people who lived in these types of Asylums, the mental illnesses they had, how they were treated etc.

This is an adult experience, but very much in a psychological respect. It is hard to judge the game, because it is not really a game. I can see many people playing it for 10 minutes then never touching it again, but I can also see people playing it through to the end, and then playing some of the chapters again so they can see some of the different paths that are taken.

This is possible the most bizarre experience I have ever had on any console. And it has left me confused, befuddled, and unsure of what I actually experienced.

Lets take a look at some of the good and some of the bad points of the game from a technical viewpoint.
Some of the memory sequences are stunning to watch, some incredible artwork is featured during the game and it really draws you in. But then the general graphics of walking about can be a bit clunky at times, and then there is that viewpoint cursor on screen, it is almost impossible to see, so you have no idea if something you are looking at can be interacted with or not. Sometimes everything seems too bright, and then moments later you are struggling to see anything because it is too dark.

There is no onscreen map, which means you can really struggle at times to get your bearings, and like I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get lost and just walk about for hours having no clue where you are.

One chapter involves you being outside and after a cut scene it is suddenly in the middle of the night, and even with the little torch activated, it is almost impossible to have any clue where you are, and I found myself walking around in circles, and that is despite the fact I had the map printed out in front of me, as I had no idea where I was on the map.

There are minimal actual puzzles in the game, and perhaps if they had more of these it would make it a more enjoyable experience.

So do I recommend this game or not?
I honestly am not sure if this was excellent or awful.
I felt a need to finish the game, to see everything, and when I did I felt thoroughly satisfied that I had achieved something. But damn it was hard work.

If you have an interest in the history of Asylums, the story lines of games, and perhaps feeling more like you are watching an event as opposed to being part of the event then you will probably take a lot out of the game. If you like puzzles, actions, quick results etc, then this is not a game for you.

If you play it without any help, I don't think you will give it more than an hour before giving up.
But if you prepare yourself, then I think you can take plenty from the experience.

Personally I will give this "experience" 7/10
It is not a game, you wont enjoy any of it, you will endure it, and you will want to finish it, it will make you think.

You can purchase this game from Amazon using the following links (Open in a new window)
The Town of Light (Xbox One)
The Town of Light (PS4)

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