Sanitarium (video game)

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Sanitarium Coverart.jpg
Developer(s)DreamForge Intertainment
DotEmu (iOS, Android)
Publisher(s)ASC Games
DotEmu (iOS, Android)
Designer(s)Michael Nicholson
Programmer(s)Chad Freeman
Artist(s)Eric Ranier Rice
Michael Nicholson
Brian Schutzman
Writer(s)Michael Nicholson
Chris Pasetto
Composer(s)Stephen Bennett
Jamie McMenamy
Platform(s)Windows, iOS, Android
iOS, Android
  • WW: October 29, 2015[2]
Genre(s)Point-and-click adventure
Mode(s)Single player

Sanitarium is a psychological horror point-and-click adventure video game that was originally released for Microsoft Windows. It was developed by DreamForge Intertainment and published by ASC Games in 1998.[3] It was a commercial success, with sales around 300,000 units. In 2015, it was ported to iOS[4] and Android devices.[5]


After a car accident knocks him unconscious, a man awakens from a coma, his face fully bandaged, to find that he has been admitted to a dilapidated sanitarium and that he cannot remember who he is or where he came from, or how he came to be there.[6] His fellow inmates seem to know him simply as "Max".

As he delves deeper into the asylum's corridors in search of answers, Max finds himself transported to various obscure and otherworldly locations: a small town inhabited only by malformed children and overseen by a malevolent alien entity known only as "Mother", a demented circus surrounded by an endless ocean and terrorized by a squid-like individual, an alien hive overrun by cyborg insects, and an Aztec village devastated by the return of the god Quetzalcoatl. Between each episode, Max returns to the asylum grounds, blending real and unreal, each time closer to regaining his memory and unraveling the truth surrounding the mysterious Dr. Morgan, head of the asylum. He remembers the death of his younger sister Sarah years ago and the real reason behind his institutionalization. It is revealed that Max was working on a cure for a deadly disease, but his rival, Jacob Morgan, didn't like this. He sabotaged Max's car and caused him to have an accident. Max is in a coma, trapped in a dreamworld. He must wake up and expose Dr. Morgan's crimes.


Dialog scene

The game uses an isometric perspective and a non-tiled 2D navigational system. Each world and setting carries a distinct atmosphere that presents either the real world, the imaginary world, or a mix of both of the main protagonist. In many cases, it is unclear to the player if the world the character is currently in is real or a product of Max's own imagination. This indistinction underlines much of the horror portrayed in the game.[7][8]

The game is separated into different levels or "chapters" with each having a different style and atmosphere. The player must find clues, solve puzzles and interact with other characters to reach a final challenge where the player must reach the end of a path while avoiding obstacles. If the player fails to do so (by, for instance, getting killed) then the player is transported back to the beginning of the path without losing progress, thus a Game Over in this game is non-existent. When the player reaches the end of the path, a cinematic is played and the game proceeds to the next chapter.[7][8]


The game was published by ASC Games.[6]


Sanitarium was commercially successful. According to Mike Nicholson of DreamForge, the game sold roughly 300,000 copies.[16] Chris Kellner of DTP Entertainment, which handled Sanitarium's German localization, reported its lifetime sales between 10,000 and 50,000 copies in the region.[17]

According to PC Accelerator, Sanitarium was a "critical success" that helped to raise DreamForge Intertainment's profile as a company.[18]


Sanitarium won Computer Gaming World's 1998 "Best Adventure" award, tied with Grim Fandango. The editors wrote that the game "came from out of nowhere to provide the creepiest, most compelling, and best-told story of the year, bar none".[19] Computer Games Strategy Plus, PC Gamer US, GameSpot, IGN and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) all nominated Sanitarium as the best adventure game of 1998, but it lost these awards to Grim Fandango.[20][21][22][23][24] PC Gamer US's editors remarked that Sanitarium has beautiful graphics, interesting characters, and well-designed puzzles.[23]

The game was also a nominee for GameSpot's "Best Story" and the AIAS's "Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development" awards, which went to StarCraft and Pokémon Red and Blue, respectively.[21][25]


In 2013, a programmer from the Sanitarium development team announced a project on Kickstarter called Shades of Sanity that was touted as the spiritual successor to Sanitarium.[26] The project failed to attain funding.[27] In 2015, a Kickstarter-funded adventure game called Stasis was released by a South African independent studio The Brotherhood. It has been compared to Sanitarium.[28][29][30]

On October 29, 2015, DotEmu released an iOS port of Sanitarium with touchscreen controls, dynamic hint system, achievements and automatic save system.[4]

In 2011, Adventure Gamers named Sanitarium the 36th-best adventure game ever released.[31]

On August 1, 2022, ScummVM added support for playing Sanitarium using the original Windows game files, enabling it to be played on the various platforms ScummVM itself supports.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gentry, Perry (April 21, 1998). "When's That Game Coming Out?". CNET Gamecenter. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  2. ^ Priestman, Chris (29 October 2015). "Out now: Prep for Halloween with classic horror adventure game Sanitarium". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  3. ^ Pasetto, Chris (1998-12-04). "Postmortem: DreamForge's Sanitarium". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  4. ^ a b Apple, Inc. "Sanitarium By DotEmu". iTunes Preview. Archived from the original on 29 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Sanitarium - Android Apps on Google Play". Archived from the original on 9 December 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b "NG Alphas: Sanitarium". Next Generation. No. 38. Imagine Media. February 1998. pp. 94–95.
  7. ^ a b c Green, Jeff (September 1998). "Crazy, Man". Computer Gaming World. No. 170. Ziff Davis. pp. 238, 239. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000.
  8. ^ a b Delgado, Francisco, ed. (February 1999). "Sanitarium - Genial Locura" [Sanitarium - Crazy Genius]. Micromanía (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Hobby Press, S.A. 3 (Tercera epoca) (49): 92–95.
  9. ^ "Sanitarium for PC". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  10. ^ Altman, John (June 20, 1998). "Sanitarium". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on December 18, 2002.
  11. ^ Staff (August 1998). "Sanitarium". Next Generation (44): 88.
  12. ^ Smith, Jon (April 1999). "Sickening". PC Gamer UK. No. 68. Archived from the original on June 26, 2002.
  13. ^ Poole, Stephen (August 1998). "Sanitarium". PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on February 26, 2000.
  14. ^ Hudak, Chris (June 17, 1998). "Sanitarium Review". PC Games. Archived from the original on August 31, 1999.
  15. ^ Musgrave, Shaun (2015-12-01). "'Sanitarium' Review – I Think I'm A Banana Tree". TouchArcade. Retrieved 2022-06-06.
  16. ^ Mason, Graeme (September 2014). "The Making of: Sanitarium". Retro Gamer (132): 88–91.
  17. ^ "The Lounge; Interview with DTP". The Inventory. No. 10. Just Adventure. November 2003. pp. 20–23. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006.
  18. ^ Staff (May 1999). "Developer Spotlight: DreamForge Intertainment". PC Accelerator (9): 121.
  19. ^ Staff (April 1999). "Computer Gaming World's 1999 Premier Awards; CGW Presents the Best Games of 1998". Computer Gaming World. No. 177. pp. 90, 93, 96–105.
  20. ^ "IGNPC's Best of 1998 Awards". IGN. January 29, 1999. Archived from the original on April 4, 2002.
  21. ^ a b Staff. "GameSpot's Best and Worst of 1998". GameSpot. Archived from the original on August 15, 2000.
  22. ^ "Second Interactive Achievement Awards; Personal Computer". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on November 4, 1999.
  23. ^ a b Staff (March 1999). "The Fifth Annual PC Gamer Awards". PC Gamer US. 6 (3): 64, 67, 70–73, 76–78, 84, 86, 87.
  24. ^ Staff (February 11, 1999). "The Best of 1998". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on February 3, 2005.
  25. ^ "Second Interactive Achievement Awards; Craft Award". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on October 11, 1999.
  26. ^ "Shades of Sanity". Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved Oct 4, 2014.
  27. ^ "Shades of Sanity Psychological Horror Adventure Game by Robert J Seres, Keith Leonard". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  28. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (3 December 2013). "Isometric point-and-click horror adventure Stasis awakens on Kickstarter". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  29. ^ Meer, Alec (19 May 2014). "Sanitawesomium: STASIS Isn't Standing Still". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  30. ^ Klepek, Patrick (2 September 2015). "Stasis Shows How Spooky A Point-And-Click Adventure Can Be". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  31. ^ "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games". Adventure Gamers. December 30, 2011. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012.
  32. ^ "ScummVM :: Home". 2022-08-01.

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