Korsakovia

An experimental mod about madness and the end of the world, designed to mess with your mind..

The main character, Christopher, is a psychiatric patient suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome.  He believes that the world has ended.
Dr Grayson is the consultant neurologist at the hospital where he was brought in after an apparent failed suicide attempt..

So, what is the end of the world like?

After an initial wander around a deserted and rather grim hospital, I encounter black clouds which come screaming towards me, while unarmed, I look for a way out.  As they hit, the cracking sound and the flash of bright light feels like I’m being hit myself.

Posters with disfigured, burned hands, commandments to get rid of the eyes.. which is exactly what Christopher has done..

Damage is indicated by cracks in the corners of the screen.  The television is a recurring theme throughout the experience.

The sounds: static hissing, beeping, and heavy breathing.. creepy sounds rising in pitch and volume added to the feeling of dread.. especially during the unarmed sections, in which the only way of saving yourself is to run.

Doors opening by themselves after I was unable to open them and had stepped away..

Blood smears and burned bodies litter the various corridors and broken rooms, mounds of debris spinning like a whirlwind in another room, as well as crackling electricity, sometimes purely visual, and other times an impassable barrier.

Through all this, the script between doctor and patient triggers as you progress through the levels, an explanation of what Christopher has done to himself and why, and what he is (you are) seeing in this world.

In each section, you are unarmed until you find the crowbar, the only weapon you’ll get, and then only after you’ve been through some places you’d have really liked to have it.  Once you have the crowbar, you can kill the black clouds as they attack.  The ones you can see, at least.. there are a few bugs in this game, one of which is the airborne version of these enemies becoming invisible.

Levels are designed to confuse; in the warehouse section there were so many crates it looked as though the escape would be by climbing.  In reality, only one crate was needed, and that was to place under a broken ladder in order to reach it.

Progressing through the game, things become weirder as you leave the hospital and warehouse areas for the tenements.  Collapsed floors, fires, and burned bodies abound..

Floating pieces of concrete making a path to a door floating in the darkness..

As time passes, Dr Grayson starts to integrate herself into the delusion, starting with dreams of the warehouse, dreams of being dropped from a great height into water..

Levels become even more uncomfortable.  I’m in a warehouse again, but the floor is at an angle, and controls don’t work the usual way; trying to turn results in the view tilting and even climbing onto crates to avoid the black smoke enemies becomes a challenge.

I can see why people find Korsakovia unpleasant to play.  Screeching static and whistling noises are at times painfully loud, and tilted views encourage motion sickness; the calm voices talking about removing and eating eyes, and the posters with burned fingers and more, all add up to a disturbing experience – which is exactly what The Chinese Room were after.

If you want to see for yourself, the mod can be downloaded here.  Requires Half Life 2: Episode 2.

Tags: , , ,

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>