I heard a lot of buzz about Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel, so I set a reminder on my iphone to check it out once the collector's edition was released. I didn’t need to be sold too hard. They had me at “Collector’s Edition.” If you put “Collector’s Edition” or “Limited Edition” in front of anything, you have my attention. I’ll buy it and/or play it. In hindsight, it was foolish of me to be expecting bloopers and outtakes in the bonus material, but there are some cool puzzles, backgrounds, and music that made it worth the purchase.
At the outset of the game, you join a road trip already in progress. You are bringing your friend and their daughter to visit her sick Grandmother. The group stops off at a creepy looking gas station. The little girl asks for some money to buy a snack.
Now, I’m a parent of two young children, and I don’t like being that “preachy parent,” but this is one of those times I’d have to say something. “Really? You’re going to let her go into that beat up store, alone, at this time of night?” Sometimes you just have to say no. That’s all I’m saying. Nevertheless, the little girl goes into the store and doesn’t come back. Shocking I know.
Sorry. I lied. I just can’t let this go. You can SEE the bad guy giving a menacing look through the window. Look around people. Know your surroundings! Safety first.
The door slams, you hear a scream, then what appears to be a tornado hits the gas station. When the storm stops, everything surrounding you is from 50 years ago. A ghost appears on the screen, which is the first of many cut scenes and movie clips you’ll experience.
This is a great part of the game. All the characters are live action. The dialog and acting could have been a little better. I don’t think we’ve discovered the next Natalie Portman or Leonardo DiCaprio here, but I still give it two thumbs up. It’s a really nice touch and an improvement from a picture and text along the bottom.
You’ll encounter many ghosts and people at the Penumbra Motel. The first ghost you encounter is a friendly ghost. I got mad at him almost immediately though. “…the little girl is next. You should find her.” Really? The little girl I’m traveling with gets kidnapped and the best thing you can tell me is “you should find her?”
Really? Thanks Captain Obvious! You’re a ghost. Walk through some walls and tell me where she is! He’ll give you more useful tips throughout the game though so try to be a bit more patient with him than I was.
The adventure kicks in from there. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Am I going to be attacked by a demon dog? Do demon dogs like demon steak? Where can I get one of those?
There is a lot of back and forth between scenes. Grab an item from the bus. Go to the office. Speak with the guy that looks like Santa Claus. Go back to the bus. Go back to the office. Despite all this back and forth, it didn’t come off as filler or a time-killing technique to make gameplay longer. It felt real and made sense in the game.
The environments are very nicely done. The scenes have a great deal of detail, and they make for good desktop backgrounds (in the bonus material of the collector's edition.) The sound is just okay. At times, I found that the music didn’t match the current situation in the game, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the game.
The puzzles are challenging. I admit I had to click “Skip” a few times. Here’s a tip for you, use your hints and skips wisely. They take a while to reload. The puzzles look easy enough, but looks can be deceiving.
You have some marble puzzles, dials, numbers, model trains, and other types of puzzles. Just like working in your garage, measure twice. Cut once. I was 95% done with a puzzle when I noticed the yellow marble on the far right. Whoops. Looks like I’m starting from scratch. There’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never have back.
In conclusion, I enjoyed Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel. I was genuinely concerned for the little girl. I was startled a few times by the demon dogs and other pop up scary ghosts. That’s a bonus. If you like challenging puzzles, creepy ghosts, and solving mysteries, then do yourself a favor and check out: Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel.