Happy Halloween everyone… wait, it’s November?… #@%£
If you were watching Youtube during the 2010’s, then no doubt you’ve heard the name Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The game was first made popular by the large number of people making Let’s Plays of the game, and inspired a large number of games where rather than fighting the horrors head on, you instead have to run and hide, like the Outlast series or Alien Isolation. While many other popular games went out of the minds of many within a couple of months, Amnesia stayed in the minds of horror fans for the unrelenting terror that it brought, with many hailing it as the scariest horror game of all time. And after ten years away from the series (A Machine for Pigs was developed by The Chinese Room), Frictional Games has finally returned to the series with the recent release of Amnesia Rebirth on the 20th October 2020, on Steam, Epic Game Store, and Playstation 4.
In the game, you take on the role of Tasi Trianon, an archeologist who is on an expedition in Africa, with a small crew including her husband, Salem, only to have her plane crash in an Algerian Desert. She awakens with her crew missing and with fragments of her memory forgotten. Lost, alone and pregnant, she must traverse the desert in order to find her crew, or at least, what’s left of them.
The game follows in The Dark Descent in many aspects, both to its benefit and downfall. While this isn’t a bad thing, as The Dark Descent was an incredible game, it does feel a lot like it’s constantly in its shadow rather than trying to move beyond and evolve. One of the best examples of this is in the game’s presentation. While the game’s presentation isn’t bad, the voice acting is decent and the environments are very creepy and creative, the look of everything is very much like the game’s predecessor. The graphics are only a slight improvement to The Dark Descents, and honestly does not have the same quality that a game released in 2020 would. Honestly it looks more like a game that you will find on a PS3 or Xbox 360. The character models are very much the same, the best comparison to the models of this game are the ones you will find in Dishonored, not the worst though they fall slightly into the uncanny valley. Though that being said, some of the environments in this game are very well done with a good amount of creativity to it, one area in particular looks very much like a H.P Lovecraft version of Bioshock. It does, in my opinion, make up for the dated graphics.
The gameplay follows The Dark Descent very closely as well, with the main goal being to avoid the monsters as best as you can, as you have no means to defend yourself. Once again one of your biggest threats is the impending darkness of the caverns and ruins that you’ll have to traverse and seek items for whatever puzzle is to be solved if you want to escape. To combat this you have effective but limited sources of light. One of which being matches, when lit it will have the same effect as the lantern in The Dark Descent, where it lights up a good deal of area around you, and you can use these matches to light torches hanging on the walls whenever you see them, however they burn out very quickly, only lasting a few seconds at a time, and will be blown out if you’re running, after which you’ll need to light another. There’s also the lantern which lasts for much longer and that runs on oil, though the amount it lights up is much more limited, working more like a torch and revealing only what’s in front of you rather than lighting up the surrounding area as well. With a decent amount of exploring you’ll be able to find more matches and oil to keep the darkness at bay, though while there’s enough to help you to feel safe when exploring, they’re also scarce enough so that you won’t just use too many at once and will want to preserve them. If you stay in the darkness for too long without any light your fear meter will rise up, which will also rise if you see any monsters, dead bodies, or anything unnatural. It is very much like the sanity meter in (you guessed it) The Dark Descent, after a while you will hear what sounds like the scuttling of insects in your ears, and after long you will end up having a panic attack where you’ll have to press the directional keys and move the mouse in order to get out of it. While this can be effective and definitely make you want to avoid the darkness, especially when there’s a monster around, it’s not nearly as much of a threat as it was in The Dark Descent, where, if you’re not careful, you’ll eventually get found by a monster if your sanity drops too low. I can understand if some players do find this scary, for me though it felt more like a mild inconvenience.
The game also has a variety of puzzles for you to solve, and while a lot of them will seem simple and obvious when you figure it out, they’re done well enough that it’ll take you a good while to solve them. They’re also mostly physics based, so rather than just pressing a button to do something like open a chest or pull a lever, you’ll instead have to hold down the mouse button and move the mouse in the desired direction. This doesn’t just enhance the puzzles but other forms of gameplay, like when you’re running away from a monster and have to try and shut a door on it. It adds a lot more to the gameplay than you would expect.
Speaking of monsters, at first their designs don’t really seem that creative and honestly I feel like I’ve seen these monsters before, which is very different to The Dark Descent which, while the monsters seemed somewhat dopey, were at least creative, however the later ones are very unique and creative and have a really cool design to them, both in presentation and gameplay. The scares are very good as well, the game finds many great ways to make you jump without it exactly being a jump scare. There were many moments when I was being hunted by the monsters and had no idea about where exactly they were, though I could still hear them lurking about the area, and the few chasing moments that this game had never felt the same and they all never failed to make me feel like I was in danger, despite some of them being very scripted. Even when there are no monsters around and there likely won’t be, the game still keeps you on edge, with very subtle sounds and noises and by making the environments foreboding enough to make you feel like you’re never safe (though that could just be me seeing as I have the bravery of a jar of marmalade).
What really kept me going with this game, however, was the story and the mystery around it. The story was really enjoyable and kept me guessing the entire way through, and while there were parts that I was able to guess, like the truth about the monsters, there were still some parts that completely shocked me and that I would never have seen coming. It’s honestly really hard to talk about this game and not mention the story as, for me at least, it was the thing that kept me excited to play and what helped me brave through the terrors that it brought.
Is Amnesia Rebirth as good or as scary as The Dark Descent (take a shot every time I mention that game… actually don’t if you wanna stay awake and keep your device vomit free)? Honestly no, in some aspects I think it doesn’t have the same foreboding atmosphere, or is as threatening, also it feels like it’s trying to capture the same magic that that game did while others have expanded on it, like Alien Isolation for example. But does that mean that this game is bad? Absolutely not, this is still a really good game with amazing horror that I promise will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire way through. If you’re a horror junkie like myself or are just looking for something interesting to play in the dead of night, then you can definitely do a lot worse than this game.
Anime Amigo, Nerd Consultant, and Guest Contributor
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