SANITARIUM

By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on June 5, 2015

Who am I? Where am I? What the hell am I doing here?! No boys and girls, I haven't finally destroyed what's left of my brain by drinking heavily, I was just getting into this weeks' game. And oh boy, what a game it is. It's a game I have played over and over again, yet never seem to get tired of. "What game is it?", one might ask. Well, I'm going to tell you in a bit, but first I have a confession to make. It is with a heavy heart that I, Sadhonker, must admit to a gigantic cock-up. Now, I understand if you're somewhat confused, but that's mainly because I haven't told you the latest news yet. One of our brave yet not very bright crew managed to singlehandedly kill one of the greatest singers mankind has ever known, without even touching him.

A living legend in his time: crooner, womanizer, mafia-buddy, this guy was the real deal. I'm talking of course, about, Ol' blue eyes himself, the Sultan of Swoon: Mr. Frank Sinatra. But apparently our timemachine, materializing right in front of him in his apartment, was too much for old Frank too take. At least, I think it was the timemachine. There is a small chance it might have been the crew member who had the brilliant idea to get Frank's autograph and affection, but was too lazy to climb the stairs. The woman in question had been a fan of Sinatra for years and thought it was fun to dress up for the occasion. I don't know if an over-zealous, wild eyed woman wearing nothing but bunny ears jumping out and yelling: "Take me Frank!, I'm yours!" was too much for him to take, but let's just say he faced his final curtain that night. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the entire world for the death of this iconic entertainer...


But still, we traveled to 1998 for a reason, and that reason is a point and click game with a quite disturbing story and environments. It's time to go a bit (or rather, a lot) loopy, it's time to play Sanitarium.

Released in 1998 by Dreamforge Entertainment and ASC Games, Sanitarium takes the player to a world filled with dreams, treason, mystery and insanity. It featured some of the strangest levels ever to be seen in a point and click game at the time. The environments were grim and strange, as were the characters inhabiting them. Hell, even the menu was creepy, with the eerie child's voice narrating the menu-items for you. But, first and foremost, it was a very good game. Some reviewers wrote it off as being too easy, but I think they kind of missed the point. True, there are more complicated games out there, but answer me this: Do they have the ever-threatening atmosphere and creepy characters Sanitarium has? No they don't, so you can stop thinking of one... no really, just stop... if you keep going like this, you're going to give yourself a headache... Oh well, suit yourself!

Sanitarium starts off with a intro cinematic that, at the time, had us all in awe. It was well made and set up the story for the rest of the game. You play as Max (as you will find out somewhere in the beginning of the game), who suffers from amnesia after being in a terrible car accident. When you wake up, you're suddenly in a strange looking mental hospital. And if that wasn't bad enough, the hospital is on fire! So naturally, you'll want to get out of there in a hurry. In this first scene, the tone is set. The asylum you wake up in, looks more like a dungeon than a hospital; iron bars in front of the cells, damp brick walls all around and even a guy bashing his head against said wall time after time, leaving a bloodstain on the bricks. So in short: not a very nice place to be. As I've mentioned, you quickly find out your name is Max... and that's it really; the rest of your memory is gone.


As you travel through the levels you are transported from one world to the next, some normal, some definitely not. Your main objective in Sanitarium is not very different from any other point and click; it's to find objects you'll need to complete certain tasks and solve puzzles. What Sanitarium does differently though, is that, instead of one linear story that runs through the entire game, it shows you bits of events that have already transpired. So basically, by playing through the game, you rebuild your memory and try to unravel the mysteries of your past. The worlds you come across don't have anything in common, besides the fact that you are in them, so the story doesn't quite continue on into the next level. Sure, it's all about Max trying to uncover the secrets he's forgotten all about, but each new level introduces a whole new world, new characters and a new set of problems for you to solve.

Visually, Sanitarium looked really nice. Both the different worlds and the characters that inhabits them are beautifully drawn and modeled. The cutscenes are also very good; the story unravels as you play and no cutscene in the game feels superfluous in any way. The characters you interact with are all loaded with different conversation options and never get boring. The soundtrack manages to capture the eerie feel of every different environment and enhances the overall gaming experience. The controls are simple enough, so anyone can play and experience the psychological horror goodies without constantly having to look at his or her keyboard.


So all in all, Sanitarium is a very enjoyable trip down what remains of memory lane and into the dark heart of madness. If you're into point and click games and feel like playing something grim and twisted for a change, than give Sanitarium a whirl, I can almost guarantee that you'll like it! But now, the time has come for me to leave you, boys and girls. My friends have arrived to take me on a trip.

"Hi guys, what's up? Where are we going? Oh, a new sweater, just for me? Why does it have such extremely long sleeves... wait a minute, what's going on here?! No, I don't want to... No, don't make me... please...let me be! YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS THAT THE LITTLE VOICES ONLY TALK TO ME! no, NO, NOOOOOOO! haha, haHA, MWOOHAHA... MWOOOOOOHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!"


We're very sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but it seems that Mr. Sadhonker had to leave the premises for a while. But don't worry, he's well taken care of, so he'll be fine... or so we hope...


SANITARIUM
Dreamforge Entertainment & ASC Games
1998