“A deep and intriguing story which keeps you guessing as you navigate through an atmosphere of intense darkness, fear and suspense.”
Amnesia was a game that scared me. I am not very good with horror as a genre in general. Jump scares are what really always catch me out. I am not a fan of these less because they scare me and more because I jump stupidly frequently because of them and then I look a little bit silly. On the other hand however, I am a big fan of thrillers. I like any story that makes you guess, keeps you wondering, and has the ability to continuously make you question yourself and the situation at hand until the very end of the story that is being told. Amnesia was a game that scared me, but I loved the thrill of what was going on at the same time, and that is why I have, maybe regrettably, come back for more. I write this introduction before I jump into the game just to set out for you some context for when this review becomes riddled with tales of my fear and distress…
So that’s my back story, but let’s have a quick recap of what the game itself is all about. Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is the follow-up to the hugely successful suspense horror sensation; Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The game is set towards the end of the Victorian era in the year 1899. The so-called industrial revolution has grown and a few intelligent men have become wealthy from their investments into the machinery which the time has seen born. You are one of these men, Oswald Mandus, but not all of your work has been honest and you are troubled by terrible dreams and disturbing nightmares from the very beginning of the story which is about to unfold around you. Waking in your home having had visions of an engine of some sort, your troubled mind plays tricks on you and your thoughts run wild as you find your way towards an undesirable goal. But how much of what you see and hear is truly a trick of the mind? Not knowing the full background of the character who’s role you take on in the game, the only way to understand his terror is to keep moving forwards, through and towards it.
When you first get into the game there are a few noticeable differences between this one and the first. Most notably, everything seems much more nicely polished now. Having created themselves a solid base to work upwards from the developers seem to have learned exactly which things to tidy up to make their new title look that little bit more professional than the original. At the same time, the game has a lot of the same features with made its predecessor so interesting and unique to play. You can still interact with the majority of objects in the world, there is still a unique and dynamic system for hiding from the nightmares which you might find chasing you, and there is still the same level of pure tension surrounding you consistently as you play. Most importantly, Amnesia has kept all this at its core to maintain it as one of the most dynamic horror games available on the market today. While it has its fair share of jump scare moments, it does not rely on these inherently but rather uses tension and suspense as its greatest weapons for inducing fear in the player. Oh, and it’s still scary, there is absolutely no doubt or question about that.
The game’s storyline is what really sells it to me. It does not give away too much, or indeed for a fair amount of time anything, about what is going on, other than there is some dark plot playing out. What you do know is that something is, or already has been, wrong with your children, or that some sort of peril is coming or has come their way. What exactly is going on remains a mystery for some time, but the fact that you know something is wrong is enough to drive you on to try and find out what. The “machine for pigs” subtitle of the game also remains something of a mysterious concern in your mind as it does not come into play or become an obvious feature of the game all too early on. Certainly there are both machines and pigs placed regularly throughout the game, but their purposes do not seem to connect at first. A strange, decorated pig head makes regular appearances however, and the purpose of this is just another troubling idea that gets stuck in your mind. As you can tell from this paragraph, the story is both deep and incredibly thought-provoking, not to mention dark, disturbing and frightening. It is a perfect example of how a horror and thriller genre title should look, feel and play out.
So far the game must sound pretty damn good. There is no doubt about the fact that its story and atmosphere work fantastically and make for an intense experience. Unfortunately however the gameplay does not always hit the same mark. Essentially the way that you do things in the game resembles the systems from the original, with several puzzles to be solved, keys to be found and obstacles to find a way around in order to progress through it. The problem however is that sometimes things can take a long time to progress past. The game plays almost like an interactive story in a way, but with long breaks in the storyline sometimes being caused by annoying puzzles or unnecessary tasks which can distract you from the atmosphere and storytelling which should be more fluid in order to be fully admired. The gameplay isn’t inherently bad, but it slows things down and this is disappointing. For such a well thought out game in almost every other area, the need to break up the story in order to solve sometimes trivial situations seems like a bit of a silly mistake in the thinking process of putting the final product together.
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is a fantastic example of how to create a horror game which plays out a gripping story in a truly intense and unnerving atmospheric arena. The storyline keeps you interested throughout and causes you to ask many questions as you move through it, all while you try and hold together your thinking and stay away from whatever might be hiding in the shadows. The only real problem with the game is that this atmosphere and story are all too often broken up by parts of the gameplay which unnecessarily avert your attention or take you out of the overall picture for too long in order to complete puzzles and tasks. A more careful integration of these into the story itself might have made the game almost perfect as a suspense horror title, but as it is they can sometimes just be an unfortunate step out of what would otherwise be a very dark world indeed. As a whole however, the game is enjoyable to play. Fans of horror games and indeed thrilling stories with strong levels of suspense are likely to be impressed by the overall product which has been produced. Personally, I have found that I can get over the slight asides brought on by these puzzles in game and keep my mind on the overarching situation at hand. If you too can do this, then you are certainly in for an intense but possibly unnerving time…
The Good – A deep and intriguing story which keeps you guessing as you navigate through an atmosphere of intense darkness, fear and suspense. An excellent example of how a suspense horror game should feel as you play.
The Bad – On some occasions the need to complete puzzles and tasks can be a little too distracting from the overall story and can sadly slow things down.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.