As we’re increasingly coming to understand, patients in mental institutions were often not treated very well in the last century, to put it mildly. Partly due to a lack of proper medication and sanitation, partly due to the stressful conditions under which nurses had to work in the overcrowded and understaffed asylums, patients were subjected to 'treatments' such as shock therapy, solitary confinement or even lobotomies.
Independent studio Lka.it is basing their first-person psychological experience The Town of Light on a real-life asylum located in the Italian town of Volterra, close to their headquarters. When they learned about the asylum and its terrible, controversial history, they were inspired to create a game in which players can relive the stories, fears and dreams of a few of the more than 5000 patients who lived at the institute at one time.
Although the game is set in modern times with the long-abandoned asylum now just a derelict ruin, through flashbacks and memories of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s you’ll visit buildings that have been painstakingly recreated by the developers. There you'll meet Renee, a young schizophrenic woman interred in Volterra. Her story is fictional but based on real, historically accurate and plausible testimonies and documents. Throughout the game, you will slowly reconstruct Renee’s personality by exploring the asylum and the surrounding park, putting together information from various sources like documents and hallucinations. The game will have several possible endings.
The Town of Light has been in development for over a year for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and will be compatible with Oculus Rift, with a target release this winter. The developers are self-funding the game, but are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise €30,000 in order to speed up the process, hire more professionals to work on the game, and add back in some features that had to be shelved due to their high cost, such as a live orchestra and an additional game location. As a flexible funding campaign, all pledges will go towards support of the game, regardless of whether it reaches its target goal.
A limited-time pledge of €15 will earn early supporters a free downloadable copy of the game upon completion. To learn more about The Town of Light and contribute to its funding, visit the Indiegogo page for complete details. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.