Amnesia: The Dark Descent
When it comes to letting their emotions run away with them, humans are their own worst enemy. If they believe something long enough, they will eventually find a way to make it come true. For that reason, there are people who REFUSE to play this game because of the hype on how scary it is…but…is it really?
The premise of Amnesia is simple. You play as a character named Daniel who wakes up in a castle and doesn’t remember who he is or how he got there. Throughout the game you’ll discover clues as to what is really going on. It’s a first person adventure, note that I didn’t say shooter. That’s right…no guns.
In fact, all you are armed with is a lantern that consumes oil which you will need to replenish if you plan on using it regularly. You also get matchboxes that have a one time use in lighting a candle or fireplace within the environment. As you may have deduced by the pictures you glanced at before you started reading this article (admit it, you did), Amnesia is a dark, dark game. You will not have enough oil to keep your lantern equipped constantly or find enough matchboxes to light every single candle or fireplace you come across. Needless to say, it’s wise to use your items sparingly.
Then there is sanity. Your character has a semi-hidden sanity bar that drains whenever you are in the dark or catch a glimpse of something scary. The lower your sanity, the more likely you’ll hear voices, see things that aren’t there, and fall to the floor like a helpless pile of jello for a few precious seconds. You can increase your sanity through potions you pickup, by solving puzzles, or staying in a lit area for a period of time.
It wouldn’t be an adventure horror game without monsters. Imagine yourself walking down a barely lit hallway, passing doors on both your left and right. You hear a growl and the background music suddenly changes to something more eerie. You know a monster is coming but you can’t tell if it’s behind you, in front of you, or behind one of the doors on either side of you. You can’t turn on your lantern because the monster will see that. In which direction do you run…or do you stay put?
With no weapons, the only way to beat these things is to stay hidden long enough for them to despawn. In a rare cases throughout the game, you’ll need to run to the next part of the level before the monster catches you. If they do, you’re often dead in one or two hits.
Now, when you combine all of that with detailed ques that play on your senses, you can accomplish the very fear mechanic that most people are afraid of. The fear and tension of being totally helpless. In that regard, Amnesia certainly delivers.
Another feature of the game is the ability to interact with objects with your mouse, in detail. You can pull or push doors shut, pickup objects and throw them, open dressers, rotate a crank…etc etc etc. Chucking wine bottles at expensive pieces of art hanging on the wall never gets old.
Now, with all of the above said and done, is it a good game?
For the most part, yes. The game does an excellent job at being a psychological thriller. Your character’s movements are sluggish and the environment around you changes to reflect your sanity level. Cockroaches will appear at your feet, for example, when you’re starting to lose it. Scripted events like doors bursting open will make the player second guess themselves on whether or not there’s a monster around, waiting to strike. You’ll often be hiding when there’s nothing there to hide from.
There is full frontal nudity at one or two spots in the game, if you are turned off by that kind of thing. You’ll also come across corpses…needless to say, this game is not for the squeamish. Also, at times, it can be frustrating trying to figure out where to go to solve a puzzle…luckily that is what GameFAQs is for.
For those of you afraid to get the game because of the fear factor, my advice is to suck it up and play it. The fear is more derived from your own mind than it is from the game itself. At first, I was hiding for almost five minutes straight at the slightest movement or sound. It made for an excellent experience however I wasn’t getting anywhere in the game. You have to go into the game with the thought of it being just a game somewhere in the forefront of your mind. “If you die, so what? It’s just a game.” Unfortunately, this takes away from the very experience the game tries to draw you into. If you can find a balance between remembering that this is a game but still be into it enough to crap your pants every now and again, you’ll find the progression to be enjoyable.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can check out play sessions for this game here: