Friday, 6 May 2011

Darkness hides you and your nightmares

Since the release of the pc game exclusive, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the internet has been sleepless in night terrors. This is a survival-horror game from indie developer Frictional Games.

You are Daniel, a man with no memories who has awoken in a dark and shadowy castle. The only remainder of your now forgotten past, is a letter imploring you to not seek lost memories. What could be so horrifying that only amnesia can save you from insanity? You will find out, if you can survive the nerve-wracking experience that this game provides. Don't get me wrong, this game has a pretty bad story, but that isn't one of its strong points.

Why is this game so horrifying? There are a few answers to that. My favourite would be that there are no weapons. No pots, no pans, no knives, no guns. This game truly delivers what its genre suggests. You experience horror and survive. There is no facing and defeating your fears here. You have no power. In this way, this game mirrors that of a nightmare. You are helpless there too.

You run from your enemies and hope with all your heart that they don't find you. They look so derranged, that I become paranoid that there's a monster around every corner, behind every door, sneaking around you. Where can you run? You run to the shadows, so only your very close surroundings can be seen. If the monsters spot you, you are going to have a very nice surprise.

There is a sanity meter, whenever you glance at a monster for too long or stay in the considerably safer darkness for too long, you become insane, slowly but surely. Should that meter fill, any monsters in the vicinity will be alerted to your presence and you will be immobilised for a while. You are given a lantern with poor amounts of oil. You will learn to treasure oil and only use it in the most dire of circumstances. However safe you'd think using a lantern is, it makes you a beacon for any monster you are trying to escape from.

Immersion is the most important aspect in this game. You aren't playing this game, you are running for your life. This is done by using a unique click-and-drag mouse system that optimises interactivity. For example, to open a door, you have to grip the door handle and swing back as you move your character back to stop the door from bumping into you. This process becomes so much longer and urgent with a monster on your tail and fear will take hold. One slip and you're finished.

Music and sound is just as important as the mouse system in this game in terms of immersion. Very fast music plays when the game spawns a monster somewhere in the vicinity. The music doesn't stop when the monster disappears, it stops when you finally take the risk to come out of your hole and look around. People find themselves unable to advance any further because of this.

Looking for a new pc game and a horror to be reckoned with? Look no further, this game will provide just the change of pace you need. If there is one developer on this planet that deserves your well earned money, it's Frictional Games. They need money to produce games like this. There is a demo available for those of you who aren't sure, but I haven't tried it and don't know how it differs from the actual game.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review, it covers everything Amnesia has to offer... and people who have yet to play it, you won't be able to walk through your house alone at night for a while without running and flipping the light quickly to confirm there is nothing around.