A slow-paced and experiential horror adventure, The Town of Light is a game in which you explore the ruins of a 1940s hospital, poking around its badly lit interiors and delapidated corridors, solving puzzles and hiding from ghosts.
The setting is real. The developer visited the delapidated shell of an old hospital in Volterra, Tuscany, before scanning it with their magic level-scanning wands and importing it into the game. Or however it works.
There’s a new trailer for you to watch, if you like.
The close and clichéd association of mental illness and supernatural horror should give pause, but after speaking with the developers at this week’s Develop:Brighton conference, the team are at pains to make it clear that they’re treating the topic with care and respect, as well as copious research.
The game depicts some of the cruel and severe treatments that were used in these hospitals until as recently as the turn of the century, placing the anguish and pain inflicted upon patients at the front and centre of its story.
The Town of Light explores the history of one woman, Renee, who found herself detained within the hospital at the age of 16. Revisiting the scene in the present day, her character must piece together her past by interacting with the environment and solving the odd puzzle, eventually uncovering one of four different endings.
It’s a fine line to walk. The depiction of mental illness in games is slowly improving, but hasn’t progressed much further than exactly this sort of haunted asylum backdrop, but the story is the developer’s to tell, and their assurances that they’re walking this fine line with empathy and consideration must be believed.
The Town of Light is currently on Steam Greenlight, with plans to launch some time this year.