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Sanitarium is a point-and-click adventure game released in 1998 by ASC Games. A psychological thriller often praised for its atmosphere and originality, Sanitarium tells the story of a man named Max Laughton who is suffering from amnesia due to a car accident as he frantically tries to unveil the details of his institutionalization inside a bizarre medieval-styled asylum. The search for his own identity - and "the truth" - takes place within the grounds of the sanitarium and inside his own delusions and flashbacks, as he confronts the ghosts of his past. The dark mood and graphics of the game are matched by an equally ominous musical background.
The game uses a bird's-eye view perspective and a non-tiled 2D navigational system. Each world and setting carries a distinct atmosphere that presents either the real world, the imaginary world, or a mix of both of the main protagonist. In many cases, it is unclear to the player if the world the character is currently in is real or a product of Max's own imagination. This indistinction underlines much of the horror portrayed in the game.
The game was re-released in 2002 with Windows XP compatibility.
The game is separated into different levels or "chapters" with each having a different style and atmosphere. The player must find clues, solve puzzles and interact with other characters to reach a final challenge where the player must reach the end of a path while avoiding obstacles. If the player fails to do so (by, for instance, getting killed) then the player is transported back to the beginning of the path without losing progress thus a Game Over in this game is non-existent. When the player reaches the end of the path, a cinematic is played and the game proceeds to the next chapter.
The player controls the character in a bird's-eye view perspective and is moved by right dragging the mouse to the desired direction. Items the player has picked up is accessed by clicking the controlled character. Some characters in the game can be talked to with different topics that will unlock another topic or trigger an event.
Mad programmer outburst
Inside the main program file, sntrm.exe, on the XS (pre-patched) version of the game there exists an outburst as a possible error code, on what would be line 774 if the file were interpreted as text, when searched by the utility grep:
c:\sntrm_k.txt ERROR: Invalid NPC ID --> All resources == 0 Stupid Dumbshit Goddamn Motherfucker! Unable to find encounter keyword %d '%s' in encounter %d No portrait for this encounter. Goodbye.
Some headstones in the game contain the names of people associated with the game's development. Clicking on the stones will trigger a narration of a name and a funny epitaph. These graves can be distinguished from other headstones by the last names being abbreviated to a single letter
Three literal examples of red herrings exist in the title. The second chapter features a hut with a large paint impression of a red herring on the roof, the character states his disappointment of the fact it contains no useful items or objects. The third chapter features a man with a large red fish in the asylum courtyard, who will begin dancing when a certain record is put on, but otherwise offers no real help or aid to gameplay. The last instance of a red herring exists in eighth chapter or "The Lost Village" and is found inside the water temple. Olmec (the character the player controls) verbally mentions its importance due to its "blood-like coloring" and when given to the fisherman's wife inside the hut she replies she "has not much use for it" and that her husband claims that they're just "useless things that simply take up space".
Inside the file RES.001 (entry #40) there is a music remix which is only played during the credits after the game is completed. It won't be played if the credits are viewed from the main menu. This remix is composed of various NPC dialogues.
- 'Sanitarium' at MobyGames
- Sanitarium review, Adventure Classic Gaming
- Sanitarium, Quandary
- Postmortem: DreamForge's Sanitarium, Gamasutra
- Inferno's Adventures (Windows XP setup and technical issues)
- Adventure Gamers Forum - Hints for starting Sanitarium with Windows XP
- Asylum - Sanitarium Fan Community, The very first Sanitarium fan community.
- Open Source, Asylum Engine, An attempt to create the sanitarium engine from scratch, supporting multiple platforms.cs:Sanitariumfr:Sanitarium