The Town of Light – Review
Follow Genre: Psychological horror
Developer: LKA.it
Publisher: LKA.it
Platform: PC & PS4
Tested on: PC

The Town of Light – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Gloomy atmosphere, Rich story, Gets to you
Bad: Sometimes unclear what to do next
User Score
8.6
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)

The Town of Light is a great example of the psychological horror genre. Don’t expect to run, hide and fight in this game, there’s nothing to fear except for the demons within. The Town of Light is developed and published by the Italian developer LKA.it, aavailable for PlayStation 4 and for PC via Steam. The rich story is based on real events which happened in the Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra in Italy, which has been closed down in 1978. 

the town of light logo screen logo

Story

The Town of Light is an emotional journey which takes the protagonist, Renée, through her memories of her life as a patient within a mental hospital, while exploring the abandoned ruins of the hospital in its current state. She was admitted to the asylum in 1938 when she was 16 years old, and through your journey you’ll both encounter hospital documents describing her case, and memories from Renée herself, linked to specific places or objects. The memories are pretty intense, and after a while you start wondering what’s real and what isn’t. sometimes the point of view of the protagonist is pretty scary and intimidating, especially at moments where she is restrained and you can only watch what’s happening, you can really feel her helplessness and her panic.

It’s quite confusing and pretty much impossible to piece together what really happened and what is delusional. Renée contradicts herself now and again, and the notes the doctors have made don’t seem to be always truthful as well. However, since this is a point-of-view story from Renée, it’s actually pretty fitting to be confused.

the town of light logo screen 1

Graphics

The graphics of this game are really sharp and detailed. The environment contains lot of litter and objects strewn around, which make the abandoned building visually interesting. The asylum in this game really looks like the actual abandoned mental hospital, which exists in real life in Italy. It’s a beautiful game, really atmospheric. The use of light is beautiful; the harsh sun and brightness outside contrast sharply with the gloominess within the hospital. The pretty 3D graphics full of light, details and color, will give way for hazy grey, simplified washed-out graphics as Renée lives through her recollection of certain places and events. Every now and then an object or a location will trigger an especially shocking memory, which will be representerend by pen-drawings from the events from the past, with minimal use of color and animation. It’s a nice combination of graphical styles to represent the memories of the protagonist.

Sounds

Except for the menu, there’s not much music in the game. During the game you’ll hear mostly ambient sounds and lots of creepy environmental sounds, of which it’s unclear whether the sounds are real or imagined by the protagonist. You’ll hear Renée tell her story as you walk around, the voice lines are triggered based on your actions; she basically talks you through the story. The narration is very well done.

the town of light logo screen 2

Gameplay

The Town of Light is a psychological horror game. You won’t need to run or hide from any monsters, except for those within your head. The gameplay of The Town of Light is more like an adventure game: you mostly walk around exploring, while following hints you get by the narrator. The puzzles are really simple and the interactions are mostly just picking up items, and relive memories through these items. While this sounds like there’s not much to do, it actually fits really well with the story, since you are playing a former resident of the asylum and simply reliving her memories and finding out about her story. Sometimes you’ll interact with objects which trigger an internal dialogue, and based on the responses you choose for questions Renée asks herself, you take different paths through the story, revealing different clues. You can unlock all parts of the story by replaying chapters and choosing different interactions. In the menu of the game you can find Renée’s diary, which will record her memories as you uncover them.

The story you’ll play through is divided into chapters, which you can reload to replay. There are no save games, you can only start at the beginning of a chapter when you exit the game. The chapters are like ‘default’ save games; all items are restored to their proper places when you load a chapter, independent of whatever you moved around during your gaming session. This is pretty handy sometimes, when you get stuck, but can be confusing as well if you reload a chapter expecting to find everything however you left it. The chapters make it pretty easy to replay parts of the story in order to unlock all of the memories by choosing different interactions.

the town of light logo screen 3

During your explorations you’ll eventually visit every part of the hospital, all linked to Renée’s experiences, which will give you a window into the past and the inhuman conditions and cruelties which happened in asylums like Volterra’s. Every now and then it’s a bit unclear where to go next. Luckily, you have a hint button where Renée reminds you where she’s supposed to be going, and usually this does the trick.

The game is pretty slow paced. You walk around slowly, you can’t run, and you walk back and forth a whole lot. But this does fit the story: if you were re-visiting traumatic and hazy memories in an abandoned building, you’ll probably stop and reminisce a lot as well.

Conclusion

The Town of Light is a very good psychological horror story, which does not involve any monsters or jump scares, but it does entail a powerful story based on real-life events. This game is perfect for people who like deep and intense story-lines and do not mind if the story goes a bit slow. You’ll need to be able to have a strong stomach for some of the scenes you’ll encounter during this game, but it is what you can expect from a dark page in human medical history.

the town of light logo screen 4

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Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
The Town of Light - Review, 8.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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