Sanitarium is a point-and-click adventure game released in 1998 by ASC Games. Sanitarium tells the story of Max Laughton, a man who suffers from amnesia after getting in an car accident and awakening in an asylum. As the story progresses, Max frantically tries to unveil the details of his institutionalization and the search for his own identity.
The game was re-released in 2002 with Windows XP compatibility.
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 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.
Sanitarium received mixed reviews upon its release. Gaming publications like Just Adventure, GameSpot, and Computer Games Magazine gave the game overwhelming positive reviews for the game's atmosphere and horror aspect, even go as far as calling it as "the scariest, creepiest videogame". Other publications such as IGN, Adventure Gamers, and PC Zone acclaimed the game's story and creepiness, but gave the game low scores for gameplay flaws such as easy puzzles and demanding controls.