ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

Abandoned psychiatric hospitals have long been used in the horror genre as a jarring setting and easy removal from reality. While most of these movies and games are predominantly concerned with getting the next scare, there's a new video game coming out that has drawn its entire premise from the real-life experience of patients at one of these actual facilities.

The Town of Light is based on a real Italian asylum in Volterra, Tuscany that was freakishly active in the mid-twentieth century. It was shut down in 1978 after its practices were judged to be "cruel," but before the gates closed for good, 6,000 patients were trapped inside and never allowed to leave.

The game has gone to great lengths to match the painful and horrifying experience of these poor souls with as much historical accuracy as possible. Check out the full-length trailer below, which does an incredible job of presenting The Town of Light's mood and atmosphere.

According to the official website, the plan is to make The Town of Light compatible with Oculus RIft, making it all the more terrifying for those who want a more immersive scare.

But, the most fascinating part to me is how committed the creators are to giving an authentic experience that doesn't trivialize or exploit these very real people.

It opens on a shadowy corridor

And it's clear that this is not somewhere you want to stick around.

Things stay grim even outdoors

As the developers explain:

"Our goal is to recreate the experiences, the anguish and the human drama of patients living in mental institutions up to the end of the last century: both the pain of mental disease and the horrors patients underwent within the walls of the institutions where they were being ‘treated.’"

It all certainly feels real when you reach the exterior

"Our story takes place in one of the biggest asylums that ever existed in Italy, which counted more than 5000 internees at one time and was located in the city of Volterra: an asylum with a most controversial though little known history."

That history will be explored in scary detail

"We faithfully recreate a notorious area of this asylum, that included two pavilions called Charcot and Ferri, by carrying out ‘authorized’ inspections on the abandoned site and by gathering the testimony of former patients, doctors and nurses."

And the player is caught right in the middle

As a confined patient, gamers must live through the various moments of pure fear and panic, while learning about this oft-overlooked reality of how we treated the mentally ill not that long ago.


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