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AFGNCAAP 08-30-2010 09:01 AM

AG Community Playthrough #14: Sanitarium
After the mysterious car crash, our at-first-unnamed hero wakes up in the eponymous freaky asylum. At least, so it begins, because Sanitarium will soon be juggling its stories and moods in a way that will confuse, annoy or make you fall in love with it -- sometimes all at once -- but that also makes it one of the most unusual in the history of adventure games, and a must-play classic.

And what better way to play it than with your fellow AGers? :)

What we do
We play the game, together, one chunk at a time. Then we talk about it here. It's a way to get a bit of community into our gameplaying, and also take a closer look at the games. You can search for the previous playthroughs to see how it goes.

How to participate
  1. Get the game if you don't own it yet. The easiest way is buying a digital copy at GOG, but you can also hunt down one of the (usually more pricey) boxed copies available online.
  2. Install and set up the game. Keep in mind that apart from the original release, there's been a XS Games rerelease (GOG uses that version, too) which should be more compatible with Windows XP. However, players have been known to have troubles with all the versions, so if you run into any problems, ask here or use the Technical Forum.
  3. Play!
  4. Stop at the breakpoint (and save!). I'll make a post when it's time to move on to the next chunk.
  5. Post your impressions, thoughts and comments in this thread. If you wish to comment on something that relates to parts of the game further than the current chunk, use spoiler tags, so as to not spoil the fun for the first-time players.

If anything needs further clarification, ask here or shoot me a Private Message. And with all that out of the way, I welcome you to the twisted world of...

Where are we? Who are all those people (us included)? What, if anything, does any of this mean? Speculate away. Also: ask, explain, bring to our attention, reminisce, praise and criticise. :)

Stop playing as soon as Chapter 2, "The Innocent Abandoned", starts. I propose that we move to the next section on Sunday, September 5th. While it's a very short section to play for a week, I want to give people some time for buying the game, finding it in the attic, installing etc., and also solve any technical difficulties they might have. Not to mention, give the latecomers more chance to catch up, and the host (that's me!) more time to plan the deadlines ahead in a sensible way.

Jelena 08-30-2010 11:07 AM

This is going to be fun! :)

harald 08-30-2010 11:32 AM

Sweeet! I'm downloading from GOG right now, have owned it for months without touching it. :9 Very much looking forward to checking it out!

Kurufinwe 08-30-2010 11:44 AM

Argh. I really wish I could take part in this. But it's really not a good time. :frown:

Oh well... Have fun, people.

Fantasysci5 08-30-2010 01:16 PM

I really like the first chapter, even though there aren't many puzzles to do yet. Each character in the asylum with you, at least patients, is a little hint in and of itself. :)

Tiocfaidh 08-30-2010 01:34 PM

Just downloaded the game !

Never owned it although it did intrigue me when it came out back in 1998.

I´m very curious ;)

harald 08-30-2010 01:48 PM


Originally Posted by Kurufinwe (Post 558406)
Argh. I really wish I could take part in this. But it's really not a good time. :frown:

Sorry to hear you can't participate. Maybe you'll be able to catch up later on if you have more time then? I don't know how long the game is, so I don't know how long it'll last.

I just finished the first chapter. First impressions, starting with the bad to get it out of the way:

Interface - horrible. Seriously... you have to hold the right mouse-button to walk? They couldn't afford a path-finding algorithm? And in addition to that, you can't look at something more than once - as soon as you've used the look option, the "smart cursor" changes permanently into a hand. A minor thing, sure, and possibly one that won't affect the game (since you apparently can't skip a line of text that the game thinks you haven't heard yet :frusty:), but it irritates me.

Voice acting - pretty bad. The characters either sound incredibly cheesy or incredibly bland. The main character might grow on me, but right now his voice doesn't really add anything to the experience.

Graphics. This is just personal preference, but I don't care much for this graphic style. The characters look like they were made out of toothpaste, or some other shiny and soft material. Marshmallow? And the animations are too quick and... spastic. I can't describe it very well, but I don't like it. It looks like Prisoner of Ice. Which looked bad, I seem to remember. :P

Sorry for being so negative. It's just that the bad stuff is easier to summarize. (And easier to rant about - especially since it getting late and I'm tired. :)) But I really enjoyed playing the first chapter. It was certainly intriguing. I can't say much about the story yet since I really have no idea what's going on. I'm very curious though!

Puzzles were nice, no complaints there. I like that you can review all the cutscenes you encounter. I don't suppose there's any way to turn off the scan lines?

The rest of this post is somewhat spoilerish, so I'll tag it in case people need to visit the thread before they get the game running.

I like the surreal atmosphere. It seems that right now, everything we see is either metaphors or illusions. But I still think the protagonist could react a bit more naturally to some of the things he encounters. I mean, that guy banging his head against the wall? That immediately sent shivers down my spine. Until I clicked on him and got the sarcastic words "Diagnosis: Crazy!" That completely ruined the effect.

How come I always have so much to say in these threads? Here's a quick summary of this post: :P
Interface is clumsy, voice acting not promising. Dislike the graphic style, but that's just me. I really enjoy the atmosphere and am looking forward to the rest of the story.

aimless 08-30-2010 03:23 PM

harald, I was already 3/4 of the way through the game when I signed onto the forum so I'll probably keep quiet and just follow the discussion but I had to say you're right for the most part. The main character's voice acting isn't great, the graphics aren't lovely, the interface is clumsy, the story is bizarre, know what?...this game grows on you. Maybe, reading the discussion, I'll figure out why I've enjoyed it so much.

Btw, you get used to walking around via the right mouse button pretty quickly. Just remember to swing wide.

Sughly 08-30-2010 06:50 PM

Woo, playthrough time! I missed some of the recent discussion on the other thread so this was a surprise for me :D. Happy about the delay in going to chapter 2, I got plenty of work to do in the next few days so will report back after with my thoughts...

Intense Degree 08-30-2010 10:40 PM


I've downloaded and installed the game and will get playing later on.:)

stepurhan 08-31-2010 02:26 AM

When this was discussed as a playthrough I had a look at running my original version (the one with XP issues) again. There is a patch for Sanitarium that fixes the XP issue for this early edition (as well as a bug that stops you entering some areas in chapter 2) It can be obtained here. . It's an executable zip file but you need to make sure it extracts to your game install folder.

Inicidentally, even after the patch, I experienced another problem that others may or may not have. The game seemed unable to recognise disk space above 20GB (and so said I had no space to save on my 40GB hard drive when it was nearly half empty. I had to uninstall some stuff to fix this). Since in testing it after patching I ended up playing the whole thing right through (I know, terrible lack of willpower :D ) I have saves at the start of each chapter if anyone needs one at some point.

I'd played this game before anyway so I knew about most of the plot twists already. I'll aim to join in the discussion but use spoiler tags for things that refer to later events in the game.

Luna Sevithiainen 08-31-2010 03:04 AM

Are the videos (like the intro movie) supposed to be interlaced (like the movies in GK2 originally are, but to a lesser extent)?
And also, are there known bugs or patches necessary when installing the early version on a win98 partition? I am not experiencing any problems (apart maybe from said interlacing), but I prefer to patch things beforehand.

stepurhan 08-31-2010 03:41 AM

There is a known bug that can prevent you entering some buildings in chapter 2 (making that chapter unsolvable). The patch I linked to fixes that as well. Saves taken pre-patch won't work post-patch.

KasiaD 08-31-2010 05:42 AM

Awesome! Sanitarium playthrough. I will definately participate.I played the game long ago, and with my short memory i am sure i will be surprised not once.

What I do remember is the annoying interface - dug itself into my memory :r

AnneS 08-31-2010 05:50 PM


You know, having finished The Lost Crown this week I was going to play something light and comedic next, but since I only recently discovered these forums and have never done a playthrough before ... Anyway, I bought Sanitarium a while ago when it was on sale at GOG, but I had yet to start it up. All I knew before this morning was what I'd read in the blurb, so doubtless it will be full of surprises.

What I don't like so far: the terrible, terrible interface. Already mentioned by previous posters, but ... holding down the mouse button to move? Really? Who thought that was a good idea?

What I do like: the visual design of the tower level is great, if not the easiest thing to navigate. And the story is already nothing like I expected! I was genuinely startled when the angel spoke to me. Puzzles seem good so far.

The joys of old graphics: I spent the first ten minutes wondering if my character had a ponytail.

orient 09-01-2010 12:44 AM

Neat. I started playing Sanitarium a few months back and stopped in Chapter 3 (I think), but I'm willing to pick it up again.

Intense Degree 09-01-2010 01:52 AM

OK, played through the first Chapter, definitely shorter then I was expecting!

I agree with others that the control scheme and graphics will take a bit of getting used to for me. It kind of has the feel of direct control (although it isn't really) and an isometric screen (which it definitely isn't) which makes it feel very different from most other adventures.

I think that what it does well (so far) is giving the feeling of being thrown into a completely unfamiliar and strange environment. Everything about this game, including the control scheme and graphics but also atmosphere, voice acting etc. feels unfamiliar and at least a little bit weird and this gives the feeling of a dream, or probably a nightmare. It also bolsters the idea of waking up with no memory in a terrible place - probably doing that better than any other game i've played atmosphere wise. I haven't really even thought about whether the main character is insane and why he is there yet because I'm still bewildered by the setting and atmosphere etc!

Puzzles have been good so far as have cut-scenes. On the whole I don't quite know what to make of the game yet from this quick snippet, but I'm looking forward to playing on and finding out! :D

TheLongestJourney 09-01-2010 06:14 AM

Hi, I just registered (but I've been coming to the site for years). I want to take part in this playthrough. I started Sanitarium last year but never finished it and I'd like to finally finish it.

Jelena 09-01-2010 08:26 AM


Originally Posted by harald (Post 558415)
And in addition to that, you can't look at something more than once - as soon as you've used the look option, the "smart cursor" changes permanently into a hand.

Hrm, that's strange. I can look at things more than once. I'm playing the game on my trusty old Win95/98 machine, so there are no patches or XP issues that might have caused that problem for you.

I've played Sanitarium once before and I remember feeling the same way at that time about graphics and interface as being expressed here. Not a problem this time though. :)

The tower is indeed a creepy place to enter. I find the person who constantly is banging his head into the brick wall deeply disturbing. And the sound it makes really makes me cringe.

Playing the game for the second time I now notice things from another perspective than the first time I played and I realize that the tower-chapter is an introduction (or how to put it) to the rest of the chapters. No need to put that in spoilers I hope since I'm not revealing anything.

cbman 09-01-2010 02:04 PM

Well, this game is a long-time favourite of mine. I won't be joining in the playthrough because I already replayed it not too long ago and have other things going on currently but I will follow the thread to hear what people think of the game and may occasionaly contribute with theories / explanations as topics arise, without giving spoilers.

I fear (but hope i'll be proved wrong) that it might get a bit of a bashing from current gamers. The movement interface is very poor but you get used to it fairly quickly and the interface is very good in all other aspects.

As for the voice acting: I love it. It is probably my single favourite game in that regard. Many years after first playing it (back in 1999 when it first came out) I still find myself saying "who would put pumpkins on a stained glass window?" or "Diagnosis: crazy!" sometimes. I also love the voice acting in Lost Crown, another game that tends to get panned from that perspective so maybe my tastes in this area are very untypical: I like character and uniqueness, not boring 'realism' when it comes to character voices. I find the vast majority of voice acting in games to be bland and uninteresting. I like voices that add to the atmosphere of the game, that fit with the overall ambience (and in a game like this, the ambience is weird) - I could care less whether they sound 'natural' or not. The guy who voices the main character in this game is awesome; I don't want to give spoilers so I won't be too specific but I will say he voices a number of characters in this game and they are all really entertaining. He really goes for it when playing the part. So much of the dialogue and spoken comments is extremely memorable.

Get set for a rollercoaster ride people. This one is special.

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