An adventure of the mind
I'm not fond of point&click adventure games. Well, let me rephrase that; I'm not fond of playing point&click adventure games. The adventure genre boasts some of the best writing in the industry, yet the mechanics of the genre are generally so poor that it's impossible to overlook them. Question my analytical ability if you wish, but my response to these types of games are to have GameFaqs running in the background, just waiting for me to tab out of the game, something that is an absolute last resort for any game in any other genre.
With that out of the way, lets move on to Sanitarium. The game opens with you waking up in a hellish place without any idea of who you are and how you got there. Your face is covered in bandages. A man up the stairs from you is continuously ramming his face into a wall. In fact, everyone around you is insane. You learn that you are in an Asylum. As the game progresses, you move from one artistically striking setting to another. It is unclear what is real and what isn't. This is a quest, not only to find the bad guy and save the day, but to find and save yourself.
The story in Santiarium is superb. The art is well drawn. The voice acting is very good for the era. None of this really does the game justice. I can't emphasize enough that in an adventure game, the story is everything, and in that Sanitarium stands tall. It tells a great story, and it does so effectively and dramatically.
As far as the game mechanics go? Well, it's better than most of my experiences with the genre. The character moves very slowly, and because there is more walking in this game than most, this can wear on a players patience more times than one, especially if you have to walk from one end of a scene to another to complete a puzzle. The puzzles themselves are fairly easy for an adventure game. I only found myself looking to GameFaqs a few times, and that was usually just because I couldn't be bothered rather than me being genuinely stuck. If for some strange reason you like the arbitrary puzzles of the genre, you might be disappointed, but for me it was a big relief. Instead, I could concentrate on what really matters. The main character, and his story.