The Town of Light is a psychological horror/walking simulator developed by LKA. The game is set in a psychiatric hospital in Tuscany, Italy called Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra.
Renée was a patient for many years at the hospital. She has now returned to try & piece together the horrors of her time there. The hospital is in ruins, filled with crumbling walls, cracked paint and dead rooms. All linked together by filthy & dark corridors. It’s an oppressive place, one filled with a cold atmosphere.
The natural expectation is for super-natural style scares but that is not what The Town of Light is about. The horror side of the game comes from the haunting location & the reality of what occurred within the asylum walls. This is a game that can be best described as a documentary. One where you accompany Renée as she explores the events that occurred while she was there.
Based in reality, one of the freshest things about the game is how most of the doctors & nurses aren’t a bunch of sadistic & evil people. Their experiences are learned through documents that you pick up & read. Most were over-worked, under-paid, dealing with a lot of stress & unable to properly care for the huge volume of patients under their care.
The lack of medical advancements & the reliance of electro-shock therapy is a fact & The Town of Light pulls no punches in showing its devastating effects.
As well as narration, Renée can trigger flashbacks that take on a monochrome look giving it a clinical & detached feel. These moments are often the most effective in creating a sense of dread.
The ‘walking simulator’ tag is often seen as a derisory one & can be attributed unfairly at times. That’s not the case with The Town of Light as there is little to do but walk around, open doors & occasionally interact with objects. This is a game that lives & dies on its story, one that starts of well but fails to keep you invested.
A lot of the problems later come with just how unreliable a narrator Renée is. You start to doubt much of her account of situations making the story feel a bit pointless. While it handles the subject matter well all you end up with is a believable & uncomfortable environment, leaving it to you to find meaning in it.
The Town of Light