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Stonewall Penitentiary

Developer:Unimatrix Productions
Release Date:Q3 2006
Article Posted:April 2006

As you climb onto your bed in your house, you can’t help but wonder if things can possibly get any worse. How many days ago was it that you lost your job? It doesn’t even matter any more. Time seems to lose its meaning when you have nothing to do. And now your wife is gone too. All alone in the house, perhaps you feel abandoned, desperate, and hopeless. As you slowly lay your head to rest, you stare at the ceiling and wonder. What else is left to go wrong? What more could happen to me to make things worse? But fate is far from being done playing with you…

When you open your eyes again, you find yourself in a strange room. You have no idea what this place is or how you were brought here. Your uneasiness grows as you discover your clothes have been taken and your hands are tied. You struggle with a horrifying feeling of entrapment. You immediately start looking for something that you can use to free yourself. Why were you brought here and why can’t you remember it? Are there others trapped in this cryptic place? Is there anyone that can help you escape? The unknowns are almost maddening. You are only certain of one thing. Whoever brought you here, does not want you to leave. You can feel that something is terribly wrong and you are in grave danger. You are William Thane. And this could be the last six hours of your life.

Stonewall Penitentiary is the latest project from Christopher M. Brendel. This time around, the creator of Lifestream and Shady Brook is challenging us to survive captivity in the hands of a psychotic killer. In the role of William Thane, players will be trapped in an abandoned prison with six other characters. You must survive the night and escape before all of the captives are murdered. But which one of the prisoners is really the killer? Whose clever disguise will you have to unveil? Is it the ambitious lawyer from California or is it the Web designer Sonny? Can you really trust Gerard who is a full-time prison guard and perhaps the only captive who is knowledgeable about prisons? Is the high school student Jessie hiding something behind her innocent youthful façade? You cannot afford to believe what anybody says. You cannot afford to take anything at face value. You can only rely on careful observation and your wit to stay alive. Clues leading to the identity of the killer may be hidden anywhere around the prison. And if you do not find them fast enough, you will die along with the other captives. This will be a very long night that you will never forget.

Stonewall Penitentiary will be an adventure game with a heavy focus on the storyline. The script for the game has already been completed and currently stands at an impressive 93 pages. While the game will not impose a real time restriction on the players, the events in the story will take place over a course of six hours. The official game Web site notes that this short timeframe will dictate how the story will be presented. There might be somewhat less character development in Stonewall Penitentiary than Brendel’s previous games. However the experience will be much more intense and filled with unexpected twists that will keep players guessing until the end. A suspenseful atmosphere should capture you from the beginning of the game and propel you forward through the adventure.

Brendel informs us that “in addition to the game’s main storyline, the prison itself has its own dark past.” Players will be able to explore the prison and learn more about this history through a series of clues. Piecing together the information carefully hidden across Stonewall Penitentiary should paint a twisted yet intriguing picture. Discovering the history behind the prison will be an optional aspect of Stonewall Penitentiary. However, Brendel assures us the history will give further depth to the core plot in unexpected ways. Having the detailed background may also make exploring the prison a much more immersive experience.

The game will be played from a first-person perspective and feature a mouse-driven interface. Stonewall Penitentiary is currently expected to feature the familiar node-based panoramic style for navigation. However the core game engine is still in development and the end results are uncertain. As illustrated by the available screenshots, the graphics will be dramatically improved from Brendel’s first two games. Game play will primarily focus on exploration and puzzle-solving as players look for important clues. Character interaction can be expected to play an important part in the game as well. Discovering the personalities of the other prisoners should prove to be particularly interesting given the game’s premise. Stonewall Penitentiary will also feature a small number of short action sequences.

Adventure gamers can expect to find plenty of puzzles and creepy locations along with an eerie soundtrack. Brendel points out that the game will feature “inventory-based puzzles, manipulation puzzles, sound puzzles, and visual clue puzzles” along with several other kinds of challenges. While Brendel is refusing to openly comment on the subject, Stonewall Penitentiary might also feature two different endings, giving the game definite replay value. The story of the game might span only six hours, but it seems like players can expect Stonewall Penitentiary to keep them busy for quite some time. The game is currently scheduled for a 3rd quarter 2006 release. A demo of Stonewall Penitentiary will be made available on the official game Web site prior to the release.

Given its solid concept and intriguing characters, Stonewall Penitentiary could deliver a very entertaining adventure gaming experience. Players should enjoy the challenge of outsmarting and identifying the psychotic killer. Surviving the long night might put your nerves to test just as much as your observation and puzzle solving skills. If you are into suspenseful murder mysteries keep an eye out for this game.

You can click here to visit the official Stonewall Penitentiary Web site for more information.