Inspired by real events, and set in the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum, based in Tuscany, Italy. The Town of Light tells the story of Renée, who suffers from mental illness, and is revisiting the place she spent most of her life to discover answers to her past.
The story is by far the outstanding part of The Town of Light, it deals with not only mental illness, but abuse and the horrific practices of dealing with mental patients during the early 20th century. It’s a story that’s told well, but is let down by its form of delivery. Exploring the Asylum and surrounding areas is very slow, frustrating experience that takes away from the story being told. There’s no sense of direction, only the odd bit of dialogue hinting at what to do next. but given the open nature of the game you can spend the best part of 15 minutes looking for an object needed right at the beginning of the game. This, coupled with the slow pace at which Renée walks and some of the jarring stuttering in the game’s performance, sets the tone for the rest of the game.
Outside of the story, there’s really nothing else to the game, while the Asylum and surround area are open to exploration, wandering in and out of the various rooms and outdoor areas looking to trigger the next part of the story or hint, becomes tedious. Sure there’s some notes about other patients and goings on, but they offer very little to the experience. There’s a change of location for a short period mid-game, but it’s not long before you’re back trudging through the bleak Asylum yet again.
It’s a shame, as I stated above, There’s a great story to experience that gives an insight into the way mental illness used to be treated, it’s dark and deals with some horrendous adult subjects, accompanied by some well design cut-scenes. That’s if you can put up with the unnecessary “walking sim” bits in between. The game takes around 3 hours to complete, though I’m sure the pace at which you walk has a lot to do with this. Unless you missed out on some of the achievements and aim to get them all there’s no real reason to re-visit The Town of Light once you’ve completed it.
Visually the game has its highs and lows. The real location is accurately represented, with striking differences between the crumbling decayed Asylum, and the beauty of nature that surrounds it. However, it does suffer from performance issues, namely the aforementioned freezing/stuttering that detracts from the experience. The audio is good, well voice acted and spot on sound effects that add to the eeriness of the Asylum.