Amnesia: The Dark Descent…IN MY PANTS
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8 Comments
It takes a lot to terrify me. Over the years, I’ve become desensitized to most scary movies and so-called creepy games. I tend to not jump or look away when my character is pulled into a dark abyss and slowly pulled apart and eaten. In fact, nothing really bugs me since the internet has pretty much single-handedly ruined me as well as an entire generation of teens. Example: just google Rule #34. Suckers.
The last title I remember that really screwed me up good and had me diving for the off button was Resident Evil and Silent Hill for the original Playstation back in 1999. Since then, very few titles of that caliber have even come close.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent has re-invented the survival horror genre by creating a game that gives you a sense of helplessness and total fear. Amnesia is a completely different experience and can compare with no game I’ve ever played. The developer, Frictional Games – a team of five people - has done more for horror games than any big company has in years. The Frictional team has crafted some of the most intense encounters that pumped my adrenaline and left me in an anxious panic. I recall having to put the game on pause to compose myself after completing what seemed like an endless pursuit. The character voicing is fantastic; the characters sound like real people with real emotions. Take note, Capcom.
Amnesia, like many of today’s games, is set in the first person perspective. You take on the role of Daniel, a young English archeologist who traveled to Brennenburg Castle in mid 19th century Prussia. Daniel awakes in the castle with no memory of who he is or what he’s doing. It’s implied that the amnesia Daniel suffers from was self-inflicted to forget his past. Sounds pretty extreme; I wish the forget-me-shot was real too.
Early in the game, you come across a note from yourself with hints on what the shit is going on.
‘Don’t be afraid Daniel. I can’t tell you why, but know this..I choose to forget. Try to find comfort and strength in that fact. There is a purpose, you are my final effort to put things right.’
I received a better understanding on what my objective is further in the note: find a man named Alexander of Brennenburg (the Baron) in the castle’s Inner Sanctum and murder him. It sounds a bit open-ended, but Amnesia has a particular way of telling their story. As the game progresses, you find multiple journal written by your character, servants of the castle and the Baron himself, as well as sudden flashbacks of memories of you and the Baron. These texts are the main source the story, explaining what you have done and why exactly you traveled to this castle. I found myself searching through every room desperately looking for more clues or items; not to mention that almost everything in the game can be picked up and moved. Throwing virtual books into fire pits is awesome.
Now, down to the combat, or perhaps more accurately, lack of combat. There are no weapons in Amnesia and to be honest, it’s down right terrifying to have the ability to fight back stripped away from you. This forces the player to adept to a new kinds of tactics and strategies. Amnesia’s enemies cannot be hurt or impaired, so if a player is spotted by the creature, he or she must find a location to hide and PRAY that they are not discovered. If spotted, utterly terrifying noises begin to ravage your character like a distorted evil scream emanating from a long hallway. It could be compared to the first Silent Hill’s radio effect. It’s like the game would reach out at me, grab my shirt, slap me around and while shaking me tell me to get the fuck out of there and run. Of course, I would freak the hell out and sprint for the nearest door or corner.
The game suggested playing with headphones, and for good reason. If you have a nice head set the sounds the creature makes are truly horrific. I could only sit and tremble while awaiting my fate in some miserable dark corner while hoping it wouldn’t spot or hear me. At one point my character was breathing so loud I was sure it would give away my location. It’s a very interesting feeling, as I felt almost connected to my character, as if I was there running from this nightmare. I felt genuine fear for my (virtual) life, which I am still amazed Frictional Games pulled off.
The entire game is a beautifully crafted pitch black cluster fuck, and your only way to get around is to light torches along your way. The stalking creature is able to spot you easily in well-lit areas, however lighting torches is your only way to really survive. If I was unfortunate and became targeted, the beast would pursue my character by breaking down doors and drag his weapon on the dimly lit cobblestone ground. Daniel’s response? Grind his teeth back and forth in the darkness while slowly loosing sanity as the creature passes (Later in the game I recall him having a rusty knife).
Amnesia does a fantastic job at creating a sublime perception of your nemesis. If I managed to sneak a peek at the enemy, the screen would become blurry and full of haze. My breathing would dramatically escalate and I would start to shake and I would lose focus. Sometimes, cockroaches would crawl on my screen and hiss as I attempted to shake them off. As I slowly went insane, this eerie sound emerged becoming louder and louder. The only way to restore the player’s sanity is by coming in contact with fire or light.
You are given old rusty lantern early in the game. Oil canisters, however, are in EXTREMELY limited supply and tinderboxes to light torches were just as rare. Choosing where or what to light becomes very important early on. As you progress through the game you need to light torches and candles to avoid the darkness. I learned this very quickly after using my entire stash, then went insane and died a miserable slow death. RESTART!
Amnesia is a one of a kind game that forces the player to play deeper. I never thought I would enjoy a game this much by trying to AVOID the conflict. Beautiful graphics, engrossing story line, a dominating sense of fear, and incredible atmospheric environment makes Amnesia a very unique experience as a survival horror.
You can find Amnesia : The Dark Descent on Steam or at a nearby Gamestop. It was on sale, so hurry!
This movie is what made me buy this game. I stumbled upon it while searching on youtube for “nerds”
What’s your favorite scary game? I might just review it.