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Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Review

publisher: Frictional Games
developer: Malfador Machinations
genre: Other

ESRB rating: RP

release date: Sep 11, 13
» All About Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs on ActionTrip

The long-awaited spiritual successor to Amnesia: The Dark Descent is finally out and I just spent four and a half hours trudging through its gassy bowels. How scary was it? Scarier than a deflated balloon, but not as scary as a glass of warm beer (Eeeek! Damn you Un! Never give me the image of warm beer again! – Ed. Vader).

A Machine for Pigs was developed by The Chinese Room (better known for the indie game Dear Esther) in collaboration with Frictional Games (the makers of the Amnesia: The Dark Descent), in what seemed to me like a match made in Heaven. But alas, reality has a way of bitch-slapping you when you least expect it and there's no choice but to face the fact that the fruit of the two talented developers' labor is not ripe.

At the start of the game you wake up in a washed out blue fog and you have amnesia, naturally. Your bedroom, your bathroom, the great hall and your entire mansion's drowning in blue. Is it supposed to be symbolic? Are you seeing the world through ghost's eyes? I don't know. Perhaps it's a bug or a game developer's terrible idea. All I know is that it looks unrealistic and the lack of contrast puts a strain on my eyes. Shadows aren't dark and everything seems weightless. The places you explore don't look real. And this isn't the night vision effect from Dark Descent. It doesn't kick in only when you're hidden in the shadows. The fog is omnipresent and it looks like the work of someone who tried (and failed) to improve an ordinary photo with photoshop filters. There are four places in the entire game where darkness looks the way it's supposed to and one of them is the menu's background. What the hell happened?

Another big problem is the lack of tension. There's almost nothing to fear or be concerned about. Your lantern never goes out and the one type of enemy instills pity instead of fear. Insanity effects were excised too. And then there are your precious children. You're alone in this huge mansion and you hear their voices calling out to you, laughing, begging you to find them. Tell me, do you doubt even for a second that they're anything but dead? Have you had any prior experience with horror? The game's protagonist clearly hasn't. So, he walks around picking up countless conveniently placed notes and answering phones that ring exactly when he shows up. There's so much reading to be done, I'm not entirely sure this story should have been told through a video game. And the guy on the phone, can he have anything but your best interests in mind? It's not like this is a horror game, right? Do what the mysterious voice tells you and everything will be alright.

As you no doubt guessed from the title, the game makes a comment on our wonderful human nature. The premise is more interesting than that of the first Amnesia, but the execution is nowhere near as convincing. The protagonist is an amnesiac Victorian-era industrialist who wallows in self pity, and since you can guess everything that's going to happen before he does, he comes across as stupid. Far more interesting things happen in the notes you find, than around you while you're actually playing, and I think the game should have shown at least some of these events through flashbacks. Having to stop and read about them every two minutes, eventually becomes frustrating. Especially, when you're lost in a blue fog where nothing happens, except the odd, predictable horror trope.

A Machine for Pigs takes Amnesia's formula and shows us how to screw it up. The idea had huge potential, but it's squandered on what frankly is a cheap and uninvolving game. This was an extremely disappointing experience. It's abundantly clear that the developers' hearts were not in it, so I'd advise you to postpone playing it indefinitely.


3.7   Don't Bother 

A couple of good scares (literally a couple), good voice acting;

Visuals are ruined by the blue fog; very short game, you spend nearly a third of it reading, not playing, lots of non-horror games are scarier, the disappointment of the year so far.


11 post(s)
Reader Comments
Terminator Sep 11 2013, 07:58 am EDT
Ouch. I won't waste one second on this one. Is 3.7 a record low score for AT?
  Un Om Bun: No, there are some 1.x scores too. Perhaps this is th…
GrgoljBlaster: I have doubts about Outlast. It started with pure jum…
Vader: Outlast is a good game and way better than this.
GrgoljBlaster: So far, Outlast i predictable as hell. But I've playe…
Vader: It was fun to me.
touretul Sep 11 2013, 09:32 am EDT
WHAT? I'm fuckin shocked!
Vader [STAFF] Sep 11 2013, 10:08 am EDT
We all are
Sam707 Sep 11 2013, 10:59 am EDT
This is sad. The first one was seriously a good scare and a good game altogether. I wonder how will you rate Outlast :P
  Un Om Bun: Much higher than this.
Vader: Indeed. You'll see soon enough.
Vodoo Sep 11 2013, 11:44 am EDT
I am at a loss for words....i need to play this because i CANNOT believe the abysmal score for the sequel to Dark Descent.
  Un Om Bun: Those would be my sentiments exactly, if I were in yo…
Vader: Dark Descent was terrific, whereas this game gives me…
TitaniumFist: windows was scarier?
Breedy_Mcfluff Sep 11 2013, 05:10 pm EDT
Your writing is solid, but... did you enjoy the first one?
  Un Om Bun: Oh yes. Definitely an 8+ game. I'm in the process of …
moriwenne Sep 11 2013, 06:14 pm EDT
Going by statistics reviews for the game seemed to be around 7's and 8's out of 10. Some occasional 9's. This 3.7 is just too low and it being so far from the curve it smells fishy, there's clearly some personal opinion involved. Maybe the 1st wasn't that good, maybe this one should have more terror to please.
  FesterSilently: Hahaha...a review IS a personal :D
Un Om Bun: Currently the user score on Metacritic is 5,8. That's…
Vader: Bloody shame that... bloody shame.
moriwenne: I started playing it and i must say after amnesia 1 i…
CJ_Parker Sep 12 2013, 02:27 am EDT
Aw I want dat teddy bear! :p
GrgoljBlaster Sep 12 2013, 02:47 am EDT
Hate me as much as you want but I'm liking it so far - I've entered the factory and even though I've encountered just one monster, the games atmosphere and writing keep me at the edge of my seat. I really hope all this buildup delivers, at least at the finale. Yes, it's not as tense as previous game as you're not constantly chased or in danger but somehow it still sends shivers down my spine.
  Un Om Bun: I don't hate you, I just don't understand you :)
ramonDeLaSalle Sep 12 2013, 02:27 pm EDT
Halloween is coming and I really wanted this game.
Presently playing penumbra trilogy , i'm in black plague, and imo it's quite immersive.
For the developers, still going buy the game and give it a try.
GrgoljBlaster Sep 13 2013, 04:29 am EDT
OK, completed it last night, clocking at 5 hours if Steam's counter is correct. Very interesting experience and incredibly grim story. Yes, it's a bit different from the previous game, mostly in monster count. They probably wanted the player to just immerse in story and sound. It's not a scare fest nor a maniacal sprint from monsters, as I guess most people expected that and therefore gave low scores.

But to be honest, it's not challenging. Puzzles (not sure if I should even call them puzzles) are obvious and can be solved in no time. As I said, there aren't many monsters and they're somewhat dumber than monsters from the previous game, so you can dodge them without problem as they don't actively search for player. I didn't die once in Machine for Pigs.

Still, I can recommend it to fans of more subtle horror. Writing, acting and level design are brilliant. I'd gave it 7/10


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