Friday, August 11, 2017

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Another game I bought from this year's Steam summer sale was SOMA. But before diving into it, I decided to first try Frictional Games' previous title, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which I had gotten couple years back when they were giving it away for free.

A horror classic

Amnesia is a first person survival horror game. I did not find it all that scary but that could just be me. I think I am past getting spooked by video games. Although Alien: Isolation was still quite thrilling when I recently played through it for the third time.

Maybe having heard about Amnesia so much beforehand affected the level of suspense a bit too. At least I reckon the water monster would have been more impressive had I not known about it.

One of Amnesia's mechanics is sanity. It starts to drop when you witness supernatural events or spend time in darkness, whereas progressing in the game restores it. When your character's sanity gets really low, it starts to affect the gameplay by swaying the camera and slowing your movement.

I did not find it helpful for building the atmosphere. Having to view the game sideways from the floor was only annoying. Getting blurry vision and whatnot when looking at the direction of a monster is pretty neat, though.

In Amnesia your options do not include fighting the monsters -- you can only hide or run from them. I think there are many similar horror games these days and I wonder if it was Amnesia that started the trend. Regardless, it can be frustrating at times, especially when you are trying to solve a puzzle without knowing where to go and what exactly you need to do while a monster is breathing down your neck.

The puzzles are not too difficult but a few times I had to look up what I was missing. I always thought it was something really hard to find but then turned out to be obvious. For instance, I never noticed the window in the study when trying to get past the rubble. There is even an oil bottle right in front of it but I always just walked right past it and the window.

An indie production

Amnesia was made by a small team and it shows in the game's scope. It is fairly polished for what it is, though, and I had good time playing through it. The story is simple and is mostly told via audio flashbacks and read-out letters. The game takes place in Brennenburg Castle in Prussia and you play as Daniel who has -- as per the title -- amnesia. I quickly guessed where the plot was going but I found it interesting nonetheless. (Same with the Justine DLC.)

Due to the appearance of the menus, I thought the game was running on the Source but the engine is actually their own, HPL, which is named after Lovecraft. Amnesia is an old game thus its solid performance was expected. I still had few technical issues such as not being able to turn properly (requiring a restart) and the game not saving my progress. Maybe it did not like me editing a .cfg file to increase FOV.

No comments:

Post a Comment