Top Critic Average
Scanner Sombre is a fascinating experiment that's beautiful, smart and a little too insubstantial.
A beautiful but short-lived expedition that left me wanting more of its best ideas.
Half horror and half mystery, Scanner Sombre is a short and great first-person adventure game for those who want to try something weird
Scanner Sombre is a gimmick game, and I honestly say that without any ill intent. Its gimmick is beautiful and engaging and kind of amazing. To its credit, Scanner Sombre is seemingly aware of the limitations of this because it's brief enough to not wear out its welcome. However, the kaleidoscopic interior decorating is a means to an end, and that end just isn't as thrilling as what's in the mind's eye.
Sadly, Scanner Sombre never really attains the heights of Dear Esther and Gone Home, two games that Introversion site as inspirations. If you have an interest in that genre, it's still very much worth exploring the cavernous depths of Scanner Sombre, but more than its fellows, this is a striking idea that searches for a game and a story to make the most of it.
Scanner Sombre is at its best when you're left to your own devices, lonely yet in awe of the sights you see and make, but suffers when the game itself is pulling the strings, whether that be to evoke empathy or terror. I absolutely recommend it, for its four or so hours of dot-matrix world-generation have pleased me greatly, but you should go in knowing that it stumbles over its storytelling hurdles and should instead be treated as, like the titular scanner, a remarkable technological toy.
Scanner Sombre is a quick, beautiful and melancholic distraction with an interesting twist, but its main puzzle is navigating the caves, which can become confusing and frustrating due to everything being made of the same beams of light.
Highly experimental, Introversion's Prison Architect follow-up has you mapping out a dark cave with a handheld LIDAR scanner. It's an inspired premise, but doesn't go much of anywhere.
While a unique and wonderful experience, the extremely short length of the game, and little replay value make it hard to recommend to everyone. But as the game has a free demo available on Steam, anyone even remotely interested should try it as soon as they have a free few minutes.
Scanner Sombre depends on the unknown to propel you forward as an all-encompassing blackness surrounds the player every step of the way. This is your canvas.