Amnesia: The Dark Descent Review
publisher: Frictional Games
developer: Frictional Games
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: n/a
release date: Sep 08, 10
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You may or may not have heard of Frictional Games, a Sweden-based development studio responsible for the horror series Penumbra, which started out as a non-commercial tech demo, but later evolved into three titles: Penumbra: Overture (2007), Penumbra: Black Plague (2008) and Penumbra: Requiem (2008). Due to the game's modest production value the series never really enjoyed the spotlight most modern-day big-budget video games have these days. Nonetheless, it was a solid FPS horror series. Frictional Games, still being a team with a modest budget (yes, this was an independently funded and developed project) decided it was probably best to stick with what they know. And so, in time they dished out Amnesia: The Dark Descent, another horror themed game, fairly reminiscent of the Penumbra series.
The game puts you into the role of Daniel who awakens in a mysterious, dark and utterly creepy castle, with very little recollection of how and why he got there. As Daniel starts to explore the vast, eerie halls and corridors of the massive castle Brennenburg, parts of his memory are triggered and we are able to find out more and more about his clearly troubled past.
Okay, all alone, I can h-handle this, no problem...
Holy fucking CRAP!
First of all, and as I've mentioned a few times already, Amnesia is not a big-budget game, so you can forget any fancy cinematics, story introductions, elaborate lore or a Hollywood cast (that's probably just as well...). Without any explanation players are dropped straight into a gloomy castle, where they are forced to survive and evade an ever-looming foe, as they learn more about the main character's past.
Before you begin your dark journey, the game highlights a few warnings and offers some useful advice as to what's the best approach when experiencing the challenges of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Apart from the usual details - adjusting the brightness and warning players about the game's content - you will be advised to switch off all the lights and try out the game with your headphones, to allow for better immersion. Well, we followed that advice and boy did we regret it later on (Yeah, we're all sissies here.).
Amnesia is a game that has the potential to scare you out of your mind and literally make you piss in your pants. Odds are the average person will be terrified of this game. Let me explain the reason for that. Amnesia uses a set of skillfully planted elements, guaranteed to trigger the player's inner-most fears. It effectively allows you to employ the imagination while playing. What you can't see, scares you the most. Enemies are rarely seen and when they emerge right before your very eyes, you probably won't last a minute unless you run and hide. Believe me hiding in this game isn't exactly a walk in the park. First you have to find a dark, secluded spot where enemies won't sniff you out. Next, you have to make sure you don't use the lantern. Finally, you must make sure not make a sound while hiding (hope you don't have gas problems). To top it off, the main character starts to freak out whenever he is away from light. This, in turn, affects his vision and endurance.
Best survival horror game we've played in ages, awesome spine-tingling atmosphere, skillfully used sound effects, you'll be scared, no doubt about it. Wait, thought I heard something...;
Visuals aren't all that up-to-date, more effort could've been poured into the level design, a few bugs here and there.