Swedish studio Frictional Games today is known for the games Amnesia and SOMA. But before they created those horror hits, their debut project was the Penumbra series. It began its existence on this day, 15 years ago, as the first game in a trilogy called Penumbra Overture.
Penumbra put us in the role of physicist Phillip going to Greenland after receiving a letter from his supposedly late father. The adventure takes Phillip to a mine where he encounters mutated animals and learns of secret research overseen by a secret group of people. Just as can be seen from the title itself, this game is an overture to the second episode of Penumbra: Black Plague.
Penumbra Overture was a first-person horror adventure. The bulk of the
gameplay was in researching and solving physical puzzles, and Penumbra at the
time was specific in that it asked players to
withdraw when opening doors, drawers, and the like.
Unlike later Frictional Games, this one also fought. Although the enemies could be bypassed, we could beat some of them using a hammer or a cramp. This system of struggle was not fluid or particularly elaborate, so it was completely removed in later episodes.
Penumbra Overture received praise for the dark and creepy atmosphere,
and the developers accepted the criticism for the continuation of the game, so
in future games, they focused on this type of psychological intimidation of
players. Penumbra was and remains exclusive to the PC platform and can still
be played on Steam or GOG.