From ASC games and Dreamforge Entertainment.

Brief Description of Sanitarium

After a car crash, you wake with no memory of who you are or where you are. You quickly realise that you are in an insane asylum, but why? And how can you get out of the tower before the generator explodes?

Sanitarium is a surreal journey through the forces of the mind. It features a number of different locations, some really bizarre situations and some interestingly different puzzles to solve. The graphics of the game are detailed, the cinematics are quite lovely. The voices behind the characters are very well done, as is the music. The story behind the accident you will discover as Sanitarium progresses which adds immensely to the game. There are some quirks in the navigation and a few action sequences that may not appeal to everyone.

Sanitarium game play and hints

The esc key brings up the main menu (save, load, new game, quit, etc.), the left mouse button allows you to interact with things on screen and the right mouse button is for movement. This makes for a pretty simple interface, but there are a few things to watch for.

  1. The first time you left-click an item, you get the description. If it is something you can interact with, this is the only time you will get the description. From then on, you'll have to opportunity to pick up/manipulate/talk to that object, but you won't be able to listen a second time to the description.

  2. Sometimes to enter a room you'll need to have the character placed just so in front of it. It can be easy to miss a room because of this. When you are correctly placed, you'll get the 'dissolve' feature where the interior of the room is revealed.

  3. Much like the above, there are times when you have to have the character faced in a certain direction or close enough to an object before he'll interact with it. Sometimes, you'll just not quite be in the right place to do what it is that needs to be done.

The game is split into 9 chapters. As you solve puzzles, you will be rewarded with cinematics because your character will remember more of his life before the accident. The game is set up so that your character has a limited inventory at all times, and he'll have dropped everything between the chapters (for reasons that become obvious when you play the game). This does mean that everything you need to solve the puzzle is somewhere in the current chapter. It also tends to mean that the puzzles are simpler in this game then in some.

So if you are temporarily stuck, check that you have found all rooms, double check if any of your inventory items can be used yet, and check that you have talked to everyone about all the topics you can.

Gripes about Sanitarium

Nothing major, just the quirks of the navigation. There are times when it is difficult to enter or exit a room because your character has to be in the right place and facing the correct direction. I found it disconcerting that you didn't so much 'enter' a room as have the roof/walls fade away. That particular feature of the game is one of the most difficult to adapt to.

Critical timing sequences are bad news. Mazes are bad news. A maze that requires correct timing is very very bad news. But this is mitigated by the fact that there is a trick that makes the maze much much simpler. If you are getting frustrated, there is another way!.

There was only one puzzle I had to cheat on. It's hard enough to do matching tones when the tones are exactly the same. When they change pitch by at least half an octave, this is downright unfair to the unmusical amongst us.

Conclusion about Sanitarium

Because the game is broken into 9 chapters, each of which is a separate entity, the puzzles are relatively easy. They are also quite fair; complex puzzles have hints nearby, simpler ones give you some sort of feedback that let's you know when you have solved another step. You shouldn't get stuck too long on any part of the game. It has a few action sequences, but you get to try again if you fail. There is also the advantage of any part of it you have solved (or monsters killed) will stay that way.

Probably too intense for younger children, parts of it are not suitable if you are squeamish. The game is highly recommended for beginning adventure game players. Experienced adventurers may find this a pleasant break from a more difficult game.

Some final thoughts on the game.

ASC Games had a walkthrough of the game on their site. Most unusual for a company to maintain such a beast. I found it useful twice. The first time because I had failed to notice some buttons on a machine and all I needed was the diagram of machine buttons. The second time was for the solution of the musical puzzle, where the diagram and instructions were both useful.