Amnesia: The Dark Descent
If you think about it, he's correct. Take away our ability to resort to violence and we're helpless, which is why Amnesia doesn't have weapons. If you come across a hostile entity, you have to run away and hide. The most you could hope to achieve is to sting them a bit by lobbing books in their direction, but it's not going to do anything more than just give your position away and hasten your inevitable death. You'll have to be thinking outside the box to outwit your enemies. Every time you see or hear something, you're desperately seeking the shadows or a hiding place, never knowing whether the footsteps you're hearing are an illusion or a genuine threat.
During our play test it did seem like there were too many noises that lead to nothing, which could lessen the feeling of tension if you end assuming hearing a noise means there won't be any danger. But that's something for a review when the complete version of the game is released and we get access to the latter stages.
The early build we've managed to get access to is looking remarkably stable, considering that it's being produced by a small indie development team.
Frictional's Penumbra games were very well designed, and Amnesia doesn't look like bucking that particular trend. Just like Frictional's first games, you're put into the game with little real knowledge of your surroundings and as an ordinary man, not an ass-kicking superhero. Like many games with Lovecraftian themes, your character's sanity plays a big role in the proceedings, because you're just a normal person being thrust into an otherworldly experience.
This game sees you taking the role of a normal guy who finds himself in a 19th century German mansion, a crumbling abode that changes as you move through it. Frictional have tried to inject their setting with a real history, plenty of scrawled notes and flashbacks filling in the backstory, that's deliberately vague due of the familiar lost memory ploy. Gradually, you piece together what you're doing in the castle, what happened before you got there, and why There are grotesque abominations trying to tear you limb from limb.
Amnesia also follows along the familiar path of Frictional's previous games by pushing the physics puzzle heavily, only this time there aren't any keypads or electronic devices. Grip has spoken many times of the intriguing possibilities and challenges present in not being able to just use the stock 'find a keycard' puzzles developers resort to. Instead, everything's gears and pulleys. As well as having to click, hold and drag to simulate the pulling out of a drawer, the puzzles involve similar mouse manipulation, turning in circles to use wheels, pulling down on levers and so on.
Made You Jump
The puzzles serve as a little respite from the continuously foreboding atmosphere, which looks to get more grim and grinding as the game reaches its climax.
Certainly, Amnesia pushes horror buttons that few games seem to do through psychological trickery, rather than bludgeoning the player with "BOO!" moments. In fact, very few, if any, of these overused tricks employed. While there are moments when your view will suddenly dilate and your character will begin to panic, breathing heavily, it seems that these moments are down to environmental triggers and effects, rather than a monster jumping on your face from a cupboard. You'll be scared because of what might happen, rather than what is happening.
At this stage of the game's development, Amnesia seems every bit as good as the Penumbra series, with the added bonus of looking better. Perhaps it'll be able to attract a broader audience because of the good will and reputation Frictional have built up since Overture appeared.
Now, I would tell you more about the game, but I seem to have forgotten what I was going to say. Strange..
Download Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP