I finished playing Sanitarium today, which is a 1998 horror adventure game that seems to have slipped under the radar. Like most other games from the Golden Age of PC Games, Sanitarium deserves to played primarily for its astounding art, design and storyline.
We see Max crash his car right in the intro, which results in him going amnesiac and seeing hallucinations, dreams and so on. Most of the game is set in such dreams. The game itself blends reality with fantasy, so you can never ascertain which parts were real, and which parts were concocted by Max.
I wouldn’t say it was scary as it is made out to be in the first few chapters, but it definitely leans on the bizarre/surreal angle. I think the creepiest setting of all comes in the second chapter, where you’re trapped in a town devoid of adults, and all the children are physically deformed. As the game progresses and story gets clearer though, you don’t get the chills as often.
One of the main factors to blame would be the games dialogue and voice acting. The voice acting especially is awful. The protagonist sounds like a dad from some 50s family TV show. While it was his voice that was the most painful, voice acting in general of this game feels terribly camp. If the game had included a voice volume slider, I’d have used it.
All in all, a great game that has its problems.