Damn, the NSFW is strong with this one. The Town Of Light is a psychological horror game by developer LKA set in the late 1930s, in Italy. It's about a 16-year-old girl named Renee T who says she sees "the Light" and that it's coming to get her. Because of this, she is sent to a mental health institute in Volterra, Italy. The game deals with how inhumane and cruel mental health care used to be, using real life events and accounts for research.
The Town of Light begins with Renee visiting the institute in 2017 (I'm still not sure exactly how that's possible considering she must be well over eighty years old)in its destroyed state and learns about what exactly happened during her stay there.
Visually, Town of Light doesn't look too good. In fact, it's optimization is terrible. The load times were long and even turning around made the game lag in certain situations. One positive is that they've made good use of visual effects (or trickery, rather). For instance, at a certain point in-game you can walk up walls, what I mean by that is if you go to a wall, the perspective shifts and you start to walk on that particular wall, warping your perspective of the asylum. However, the inside of the institute was very drab and dull. Perhaps it's supposed to be like that, but it doesn't make it a very enjoyable place to be. The outside of the institute looks surprisingly pleasant though, providing an aura of hope. That's probably the aesthetic they were going for, but in that case, the inside of institute should have given off a darker vibe. In the end, it just looks dull. Also since Town of Light is in first-person, in 3D and it's trying to tell such a horrific story, a lot of the scenes lose their punch because of the poor visuals.
Story-wise, the developers have done their research. They are trying to tell a true story and they've done exactly that, but this doesn't translate to good storytelling. I'm a person that considers exposition as listless story-telling, and this game is chock full of exposition. Chapter after chapter is filled with either reading diaries or some medical reports, a typical case of telling, rather than showing or doing. The only saving grace are the cutscenes which are usually shown after the completion of a chapter. They've got style and are effective at telling bits of Renee's story.
Town of Light is basically a walking simulator, if I may use the term, in the gameplay department. There's not a great deal of interaction, except 'go here', 'do that'. Then go to another place and do another action. At least, the developers have made it easier by putting in a help system which tells you where you have to go by pressing 'H'. This is exacerbated by the fact that the institute is so dull, with very little to see. The game also has collectables, which are in the form of pages of Renee's diary. I collected almost all of the pages and I have to admit it was a good read, which I didn't really expect. You can pick the pages up naturally while exploring, and there's a decent read to be had out of it.
Another very important thing to address is that the game has alternative chapters and branching decisions. No no, the game doesn't have different endings. It has a single ending, but choosing different options results in unlocking alternative chapters, which allows you to see things from a different perspective. It was hard to see the draw here, and I didn't feel inclined to go down this route. Why have alternative chapters and branching options if the ending's the same? Also, the way these choices are incorporated into the game can be horrible. Most of the time when you choose something, Renee doesn't even give a reaction and there's also a telltale symbol that jarringly shows up after every choice is made.
The Town of Light is very minimalist in the audio department and what little music there is, is piano solos. They aren't bad at all, but it could've used a little more audio emphasis, just to keep you engaged through the walking simulator parts. However, the end credits song was really good and props to the singer for that.
So while the research and attention to detail that went into Town of Light is good, and they're addressing a very important issue, the developers have failed to adapt it into a game format. I'd go as far to say you'd be better off watching a documentary or show about it. Actually, the game even makes an attempt at this. When you finish the game, you see this little video play button at the bottom of the title menu. It was actually a live-action video of the institute in its current 2017 state, which makes you understand how they've tried to recreate the exact place in-game, and there are also scenes with an actress playing the role of Renee and recreating events from the game. It actually makes for a better viewing experience than the game itself.