Reader Review: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

When I received this Reader Review, all I could think of was this hilarious video. But as Zorine Te's review shows, Amnesia: The Dark Descent in more than just YouTube fodder, it's one of the scariest games ever made.

AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT

From the developers who brought us Penumbra, the latest offering from Frictional Games promises "an experience that will chill you to the core". I think it's a fair warning to those who get a little weak at the knees when faced with scary games - this is a game that will mercilessly clutch at you with its iron fist of terror- and for the most part, succeeds. There are few shots at the traditional jump-inducing scares. Instead, much of Amnesia: The Dark Descent's horror is drawn from its atmosphere and well designed gameplay elements. This is a game which should have came with an extra pair of pants.

LOVED Atmosphere It would seem that this title's strongest point is the atmosphere - this is where the fear comes from. As mentioned, Amnesia: TDD seldom relies on quick scares that aim to make the player jump. Instead the focus is drawn on unsettling visuals, sounds which you think you may have heard, and the inability to defend yourself. The atmosphere invokes fear in a less explicit manner; that is, your fear comes from what you imagine to be coming.

Darkness and light also plays an important role in the game. Standing for too long in the dark will handicap your character, but stepping into the light may reveal you to nearby... things.

This all makes for an incredibly unnerving experience. Several moments will linger in the minds of players long after the game has finished. The intensity of the atmosphere actually made it necessary for me to take breaks at regular intervals.

Mind over matter Gunning down your adversaries may be something common in traditional horror survival games but Amnesia does nothing of the ilk. You will need to think quickly in order to stay alive and solve puzzles to progress the story. An interesting physics engine mixes things up a bit.

Storyline The introduction leaves the player with very little information to begin with. Plot elements were well paced, leaving me genuinely interested in what was going to happen next. However, there was sometimes an overdependence on the pure text notes lying around - something I will discuss below.

HATED Text There were moments where the game showed an overreliance on "notes" of pure chunks of text lying around. Prepare to practice skim reading.

Backtracking Not sure how many players have encountered this, but I spent a fair amount of time running around places hopelessly lost. This can quickly become frustrating when all I want is to progress.

Just when I thought the survival horror genre had nothing new to offer, Amnesia: The Dark Descent brings it to a whole new level. This is a game that will tap into the imaginations of players to mess with their minds. Even if you don't get kicks out of being scared, the atmosphere itself is brilliant. My tip - play it at night, lights off, headphones in and turn it up. Total. Immersion.


Comments

    Just picked this up off Steam, ran into my first visible enemy and haven't touched it since.

    The tension is guitar-string tight and, even though you can pause the game, the illustrations of your health and sanity ensure you remain aware of the situation and your vulnerability.

    Haven't finished, but probably the purest horror game I've ever played.

      Also, hissing cockroaches freak me out, glad they don't affect the main character's sanity.

        Man i need to play this game!
        I'm such a massive sissy!

        I mean, FEAR scared the crap outta me a couple of times...

          I quickly got bored with FEAR when I realised all the wack scary stuff never actually hurt you.
          Maybe it does in that later parts of the game but the first half was just trudging through corridors and visions between a few average gun battles.

            I got bored and quit just because it was so damn repetitive.
            It's like the game that never ends.. it just went on and on and on...

      Ross, being a cockroach-phobe I had the say that the cockroaches freaked me out more then the monsters did!

      Hang in there :)

    My PC GOTY really.

    I've been playing this the past few days. I'm having a blast! For some reason it takes me back to the good old days of gaming. Perhaps it's the lack of hand holding, or the lack of an interface which helps to draw you in to the game, but it's just oozing with awesome! Haven't been this tense about hiding from enemies since the first Alone in the Dark game!

    I was so scared I managed to excrete fesces out of my penis. . . .

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