Welcome to my Road to Halloween series where throughout the month of October I’ll be reviewing movies and games from the horror genre. Some of these reviews will be of newer titles such as the new Halloween movie, and some older titles such as this review.
Some of you may remember me briefly talking about this game in my top 10 horror games list, but I never actually beat the game until now so I thought I might as well review it.
Like I said before in my top 10 Amnesia the Dark Descent may have been single-handedly responsible for saving the horror game genre. it came out at a time when most horror franchises like Resident Evil and Bioshock both switched from horror to action, leaving the horror genre all but dormant. When Amnesia came out it quickly became a hit among the internet, and revitalized a stagnating genre.
In the game you are Daniel, an archaeologist from Mayfair, who wakes up with amnesia in the mysterious castle Brenenburg. From there you must navigate the dark corridors of the castle whilst avoiding monster and solving puzzles, all in the pursuit of regaining the memories you lost. It’s a simple but interesting premise, one that Frictional games utilizes to the fullest. The design of the castle is one of the high points of the game. Each section of the castle acts as its own level with puzzles and monsters in each. The puzzles while simple, are satisfying to solve and I found myself eagerly anticipating each. The pacing between the puzzles is largely the reason for this. Amnesia is perfectly paced between solving puzzles, finding notes and flashbacks, wandering the halls of the castle, and then being chased down said halls towards another puzzle.
What sets Amnesia apart from other horror games is its main game mechanic: the sanity meter. As you traverse the halls of Brennenburg you must manage your sanity which will slowly deplete as you witness disturbing events, stare at a monster or if you’re in the darkness for long periods of time without a light source. The only way to replenish your sanity is by solving puzzles or staying near light sources. As the sanity meter depletes Daniel will start hallucinating and hearing sounds that may or may not actually be there. Frictional games understands that good sound design is paramount for a good horror experience and use the sanity meter to capitalize off of this.
The only real problem I had with the game was the quality of the monsters. While the game is scary the actual design of the monsters is not, in fact they’re rather goofy looking. Despite this the monsters are still terrifying when they are chasing after you. The design of the monsters is forgivable in my opinion, due to the relatively small budget.
Amnesia remain one of the best horror games to date. The story is well told, the levels are expertly designed, and of course it’s still terrifying despite the design of the monsters.
I rate Amnesia: The Dark Descent an A+ or 9.8 A.K.A. Cult Classic