Amnesia: The Dark Descent is… well, I suppose you could call it a first-person horror game. It certainly isn’t a shooter or action game, but it does have certain elements of adventure games and stealth games.
Because Amnesia is a unique game, I’m going to be very careful about not spoiling the experience in this review. Including mechanical spoilers.
I’ll even include rather dull screenshots so as to not show you the real dangers in the game.
Metacritic gives Amnesia a score of 85. Read on for my thoughts…
- Great Atmosphere
Amnesia’s selling point is its scariness. And it does a good job. Not just because of the sights, the sounds, and the events, but because of the pacing. Amnesia knows to hold its best scares for later.
- Good Story
The game’s story is nothing special. But you wouldn’t want it to be or it would distract from the gameplay. Amnesia’s story perfectly balances on that point between engaging yet easily understandable, creepy but not cliche.
This means more than just no bugs (except for the ones that crawl on the floor, and across your screen). Amensia is one of those rare games where every aspect has been done well.
- Pleasant Puzzles
Amnesia’s puzzles are challenging, satisfying, and sensible. I completed it without internet-hint-assistance, though I did almost get stuck in one part. The game offers hints, which you can turn off, but I found they served as reminders and gentle guidance rather than spoilers.
- Fun With Physics
You interact with everything in a really physical way. Apart from a few exceptions, you don’t just click to do something, you actually have to apply force. Examples: opening doors involves grabbing them and swinging them open with the mouse (often into your own face if you’re clumsy like me). Similarly, certain panes of glass are broken by hurling heavy objects. It’s a fun mechanic that immerses you in the world.
- Failure is not an Option
So, there are certain action-y parts in Amnesia where you can foul up and die. The game will let you try again, but only once or twice. Fail a few times and it’ll remove the danger from your path. Hey! I wasn’t ready to give up!
One’s first instinct is to blame this on catering to casual players. But there could be another explanation — the game might be trying to limit your exposure to the scary threats so they stay scary. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all.
- Too Many Bumps in the Night
Amnesia paces its scares well, except for one thing — creepy sounds. They’ll freak you out at first, but by the time you’re a mere hour into the game you’ll be starting to become desensitised. I think a little more moderation was called for here. Silence can be scary too, you know… just try exploring an underground bunker in STALKER.
- Fade to White
The game straight-up tells you to play in the dark where possible. Which is a sentiment I’d strongly echo, except for one thing: the fade to whites. Frequently during the game you’ll trigger flashbacks where the screen will fade to white. The problem is, a large LCD screen showing pure white is painfully blinding when you’ve been playing an otherwise dark game in a dark room.
- Rated Good (on the Amazing, Good, Ordinary, Marginal, Critical scale).
- Amnesia won’t challenge your gamer skills, but it will give you an experience you’ll enjoy. It’s worth its normal price of $20, but becomes a no-brainer when discounted in one of Steam’s many sales.
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