Chilling but without jump scares or survival horror elements, The Town of Light is an interesting title which doesn’t quite deliver fully on its promise.
Developer LKA have straddled the line between Walking Simulator and horror game with their new title, though it certainly leans heavily to the former. Set in Tuscany at a real Asylum, this is the story of an ex-inmate, Renee, who is re-visiting the site of many atrocities carried out in the 1940s and re-living her own horrors there during that time.
As you’d expect from the subject, the material here is pretty heavy going and there are moments where you’ll be thankful for modern thinking, but the game isn’t here to entertain you so much as to inform. This also leads to The Town of Light’s biggest issue, there is a lack of interaction beyond walking around and examining stuff or tripping the next cut scene in to Renee’s past.
That’s not to say the game is boring by any means, it’s an interesting and sometimes harrowing journey through the past, as seen through Renee’s eyes, but even when compared to other recent Walking Simulators you need to wonder if this is barely a game itself or just an interactive history project.
Seemingly in answer to this question, the developer has added some puzzle elements which feel as if they’ve come straight from one of G5’s hidden object mobile titles. Unfortunately, they’re dogged by some bad design issues and at times it felt as if the game was punishing you over a few pixels either way. It was nice to break up the constant barrage of atrocities that the story throws at you, the sort of things done to patients, and especially to Renee, is not for the feint of heart, but this also made those same puzzles feel a little twee in light of the events you’ll have just witnessed.
There is still a good reason to visit The Town of Light, though, and that’s to witness the history, taken in part from real events, of not just this asylum but many across the world during a time when doctors were less enlightened to mental health. it’s well worth visiting for the historical aspect, even if you’ll come out of this journey mentally exhausted. It’s just a shame more couldn’t be done on the interactive side to drive this game forward.