Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'd seen Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 on the front page of the Linux Game Tome before but, until now, had never bothered to check it out. So, guess what today's post is about. Good job.

Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 is a commercial offering from Frictional Games but they do plan on supporting Linux. I say plan on because the full game isn't available for Linux yet, but there is a beta version of the demo available and, yes, it does work quite well. It's a first person game, but not quite a first person shooter, more of a puzzle action mix with a heavy emphasis on the physics engine.

Therein lies the problem. I was really enjoying the demo, but occasionally some of the required interactions with objects felt less-than-intuitive. Very early on you're required to break ice off of a hatch and then open said hatch to get yourself to safety. Picking up a rock to break the ice was easy enough, but the actual act of turning the wheel on the hatch was far too much trouble, to the point where it became frustrating.

That's a real shame because, minor physics quibbles aside, Penumbra is a very well made, very interesting game. The story is well told, the graphics are well done, and the general "feel" of the game is spot on. In fact, I'll even admit that once I got a bit further into the demo, the physics-related problems all but disappeared. That still doesn't diminish the fact that after about a half hour of play, my wrist was starting to hurt from holding down the left mouse button so much to drag various objects around.

Still Penumbra: Overture Episode 1 is a damn solid game. Hell, I might even buy it when the full Linux version is available. I'll just probably doom myself to carpal tunnel by doing so.

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