Frictional Games brings you a budget title that takes you to a very bad place… In a great way.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Reviewed by Michael Basinger
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a fantastic example of what “survival/horror” games should be. Sure, I love Dead Space and Resident Evil, but a lot of the fright that I should be feeling gets immediately washed away by the fact that I can rip my enemies to shreds with impossibly powerful weapons. This is one of the reasons why Amnesia shines. You have no weapons, let alone any means of defense. So, If you see a monster, your only option is to run and hide and hope whatever abomination that is after you will pass you by. That sensation of fear I felt from being absolutely helpless is something I haven’t experienced since I urinated all over myself playing Fatal Frame 2. If I wasn’t (literally) shrieking like a girl or experiencing heart rates that could put the double bass drum beats of a thrash metal song to shame, I was getting enveloped in the overall atmosphere of developer, Frictional Games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Amnesia is a dark game both figuratively and literally. You control Daniel, an unfortunate chap that wakes up in the dark, rubble filled hallways of Brennenburg Castle with no recollection of where or who he is. Naturally, you have to get to the bottom of the supernatural shenanigans that are going on and find out what the heck you’re doing in Brennenburg. The gargantuan, stone hell that the castle is is filled with disturbing and brutal imagery and, as you make your way through torture chambers and overflowed basements, you’ll have nothing more than tinder to light torches and a lantern with limited oil supplies. You’ll have to use them sparingly though, because wasting your light sources means being trapped in the dark. Being trapped in the dark means losing your sanity. Losing your sanity means battling to control Daniel and seeing and hearing things that may not actually be there.
The best way I can describe Amnesia is as a First-Person adventure that feels like the deranged child of Point-and-Click fan favorite, Myst, and Silicon Knight’s Gamecube sleeper hit, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. There’s a unique tactical feel to the controls of Amnesia that helps to engage you in the game. For instance, to open doors you’ll have to click the left mouse button on a door handle and push or pull the mouse to swing the door in the respective direction. It’s just a nice touch that kind of adds to the creepy factor as you inch doors open to see if you are still be followed by a monster.
If I have one gripe against Amnesia it’s that it starts to feel a bit long winded in the latter half. While it continues to be a scary, fun, and puzzling game, at times a certain level of fatigue begins to settle in. This may be, in part, attributed to the fact that there isn’t really a map to find your way around Castle Brennenburg. So, you’ll occasionally spend good chunks of time accidentally revisiting areas.
Halloween is right around the corner and if you don’t already have plans to scare children, steal candy, or attend a sexy party, I can pretty easily recommend dropping $20 on Amnesia: The Dark Descent
[xrr rating = 8/10]