Sanitarium (video game)
After a car accident knocks him unconscious, a man awakens from a coma to find that he has been admitted to a derelict sanitarium and that he cannot remember who he is or where he came from, or how he came to be there, though 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 overlooked by a malevolent entity known only as "Mother", a demented circus surrounded by an endless ocean, and an alien hive overrun by robotic parasites, to name a few. As he traverses these unfamiliar and bizarre landscapes, his memories slowly rebuild themselves, forcing him to relive the fate of his younger sister Sarah years ago, and the real reason behind his institutionalization.
The game uses a bird's-eye view 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.
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.
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Sanitarium received mixed to good reviews upon its release. Gaming publications like Computer Gaming World, Just Adventure, GameSpot, and Computer Games Magazine gave the game overwhelmingly positive reviews for the game's atmosphere and horror aspect, even go as far as calling it as "the scariest, creepiest videogame". Other publications such as IGN, Adventure Gamers, and PC Zone acclaimed the game's story and creepiness, but criticized for gameplay flaws such as easy puzzles and demanding controls.
Sanitarium is usually held in very high regard in adventure game communities. It won Adventure of the Year in Computer Gaming World in 1998, tied with similarly highly-regarded adventure, Grim Fandango.
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. The project failed to attain funding. 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.
- Sanitarium information at GameFAQs
- Pasetto, Chris (1998-12-04). "Postmortem: DreamForge's Sanitarium". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
- Green, Jeff (September 1998). "Crazy Man, SANITARIUM Isn't Exactly a "Good Time", But It's an Awesome Adventure". Computer Gaming World (Ziff Davis) (170): 238–239.
- 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.
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- "Game Ranking reviews". Game Rankings. Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- "The Press Says...". MobyGames. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
- CGW staff (April 1999). "The Best of the Year". Computer Gaming World (Ziff Davis) (177): 96.
- "Shades of Sanity". Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved Oct 4, 2014.
- "Shades of Sanity Psychological Horror Adventure Game by Robert J Seres, Keith Leonard — Kickstarter". Kickstarter. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (3 December 2013). "Isometric point-and-click horror adventure Stasis awakens on Kickstarter". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- Meer, Alec (19 May 2014). "Sanitawesomium: STASIS Isn’t Standing Still". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- Klepek, Patrick (2 September 2015). "Stasis Shows How Spooky A Point-And-Click Adventure Can Be". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 10 September 2015.