Amnesia: The Dark Descent: Unmatched Horror

Amnesia’s title is eye rolling-ly generic if youve spent more than a few minutes in the horror games category. The “I have Amnesia” trope has been worn thin through constant abuse through the years.

“No,” they say, “lets just delete the memory and fill it in later so we don’t have to write compelling stories.”

So that sort of title, combined with its listing under Lovecraftian horror, doesn’t sound promising. That goes double if you’ve only played the terrible Amnesia: Rebirth and been turned off from the franchise.

But, this game is one of, if not the most important, horror game in the general market today. It’s up there with SIlent Hill 2, FNAF, and (far, far, FAR) above the Slenderman games. With Halloween fast approaching, Amnesia is a must have game for any horror fans library.

The game starts off with the main character, Daniel, waking up in a castleto discover he has amnesia. A note left behind reveals that Daniel willingly wiped his memory, and then tells the now mindwiped Daniel that he needs to kill the Baron of the castle

Now, while thats the extent of your role in Amnesia, the backstory that you find through notes, is fantastic. While the trope of scavenging for pieces of paper with words on them has been worn thin, Amnesia does it in a way that makes it feel rewarding. In contrast to the meandering notes of other horror games, Amnesia’s are well written, short, and clearly state important information. This allows each note to give you a quick, useful piece of background info, that you can look at and instantly understand it’s significance.

Scavenging in general is fantastic, as each item, be it tinder boxes, oil, or first aid supplies feels rewarding to find. You never know when you may be trapped in a basement and need a bit more light. So scavenging feels as if you’re preparing for a challenge, rather than loading your inventory with a bunch of crap. I might have enough oil to fuel a battleship and i’ll still get a burst of dopamine when i check a closet and find that bottle of oil. Which is good, because light plays such an important factor in the gameplay.

Light levels and the Sanity meter is the closest Amnesia has to unique gameplay mechanics. For starters, the main character has a deep seated fear of the dark, to the point he goes insane after several seconds. To remedy this you have several options, either a. use a tinderbox to permanently light stationary candles, fireplaces, and lamps, or b. use a portable lantern that runs on limited oil However, they also provide a tradeoff, as the monsters in the game can find you instantly if they see you out in the open. This is also where sanity kicks into overdrive, and what i think is Amnesia’s strongest element. You can’t look at the monster’s for long as your sanity will drop, and with no combat all you can do is run. . This keeps the look and feel of the monster fresh, and tense, allowing the game to use the same enemies without getting exhausted. This, along with excellent ambient sounds and artstyle, keeps the game scary from start to finish.

The artstyle has truly stood the test of time, despite the game being a decade old at this point. The castle is ominous, darkly lit, and resembles a twisted maze. overflowing with massive rooms of barrels, libraries, and steampunk technology, along with various tools of witchcraft like spell books, and runes. There’s also certain ambient noises that really get under your skin in a good way. The footsteps alone make you feel trapped as they echo down the hall. If I’m being honest, tis games atmosphere is a better Call of Cthulhu than Lovecraft’s original works

Overall if i had to pick one strength of Amnesia, it would be how effectively simple it is. While it does nothing revolutionary, the surgical precision of these basic elements allow Amnesia to stand the test of time.

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