“ System Requirements: OS: Windows XP/Vista/7 / Publisher: Frictional Games „
After finally being tempted over to the darkside of gaming, (with a PC no less) one of the first on my wishlist was this: Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Why? Because it received critical acclaim upon release and was dubbed one of the scariest games to date. "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED" me thoughts. A fair price and often discounted on Valve's Steam service, Amnesia is a game worth welcoming, due to the fact its an indie game, not churned out by a multi-conglomerate and surprisingly, because it lacks any point and shoot gameplay... or any attacking whatsoever!
Descend (Story & Environment)
The introduction is quite cool. A well read, British archaeologist, Daniel, awakens in a Prussian castle (its olden times) with a faltering memory (Title reference). He occasionally finds various pages of his journal, strewn about the castle, which is always worth the read as it is spoken with his suave, plucky, albeit naive voice. Piecing together his memory via the pages and horrifying flashbacks, Daniel learns that something is pursuing him... this.. shadow. All you know is that this thing wants to end your existence in the most grisly way possible (as seen and often heard, in numerous visions). As you probably imagined, there is very little light in your gloomy settings, however one of the most useful and often life saving abilities is to find oil for your lantern or flints for lighting candles... if there are any about..
Pause the game/Caps Lock (Gameplay & Controls)
Being in first person is an effective way to immerse gamers into the horror, especially when they don't get to stare at the barrel of an overpowered weapon whilst roaming about. What makes this one a survival horror is that you have to open doors and cabinets, move aside fallen rubble and various furniture to get any real progress... sound dull as hell right? Not when you're moving said sofa to cower in a crawl space because you heard a loud noise in the hallway! There are loads of puzzles scattered through the game too, which require searches and a bit of problem solving, so its not all just about being a coward. My main gripe though is unavoidable and only my opinion, but the controls are often diabolical. To the point where you're desperately clawing at your keyboard to leg it from monsters or as basic as pausing to heal yourself. That said, I am no seasoned PC gamer yet and this is the games only platform. Perhaps its controls add to the fear factor.. along with the choice of slowly opening doors and peeking around corners.
The problem this game has is this, if you're not scared but the character you're controlling is...... well that's just annoying. Languish in the dark long enough and your guy will hallucinate, start some heavy breathing and either have a heart attack or a stroke (your health is measured by your brain and heart). Clever though it may be to stop people plowing through the game quickly or joking about, it becomes a ball ache in the tamer situations.
The drawbacks with being an indie game also push this down the scale a tad too, with less than stellar graphics and the odd glitch. Despite its flaws though, Amnesia can draw in patient gamers with a knack for exploration and a stomach for the grotesque with its demonic creatures and heart pounding hide and seek style gameplay.
Amnesia:The Dark Descent is a video game designed by Frictional Game.Previously known as "Lux Tenebras" and "Unknown",it is a survival horror video game.
The game is designed as a labyrinth,where you can easily get lost.To top that,it has monsters that spawn in different places,and these monsters often patrol areas.This being said,you can't hide forever in one place.
The first things that you get from the game is a lantern,some oil to keep the lantern lit,and some tinderboxes to light up candles that are place throughout the map.Also,some of the things you may find is a health potion(named Laudanum) for healing and a sanity potion for mental health.
The game has some gauges:
-one for life(resembled by a heart) which measures,with different degrees of deterioration,the health meter
-one for sanity(resembled by a brain and spinal cord) which measures,again with different stages of deterioration,the sanity of the character
-an oil gauge,which measures the amount of oil your character has.
Health can decrease when attacked by different monsters or when falling and hitting.As health decreases,the screen turns red.
Sanity can decrease when you stay in darkness,or when you stare a monster.As sanity decreases,he image starts to shake and vibrate.
Oil decreases with lantern's use.
What I find interesting regarding this game is that you don't have any means of defending yourself.You can't fight back.This makes you think where you can hide from specific intruders.I find this great.Thinking is good.Most horror games make you fight your way through,but not this one.You hide and hope it will pass.And the game provides a lot of places,from weak hiding places to exceptional hiding places.
Another thing that contributes a lot to the game's play is the sound.The game has specific sounds related to the character's position.When it wanders the hallway,there is a frightening continuous music.There are some different sounds that can scare you off your seat.Like when you enter a torture room,you will hear the machines' sound and the victim's grunts.
The most horrific sounds are when you are chased by a monster.That sounds creeps me out!It makes me unable to think properly,because it's loud and horrifying.
The story is great.It presents a character that suffers from amnesia.During the game,you find out things that you done,or others have done.
Personally,I tried to follow the storyline very carefully,and I didn't find any flaws related to dates or events.
I found interesting that you can have alternate endings of the game.There are,I think,three alternate endings,related to what items you have in the inventory and what your last decisions are.
One thing that I found rather annoying is the bugs and glitches.Sometimes,you can even hide behind a rock that you take with your hand and put it in front of you.Sometimes even with a chair with gaps on it.
Sometimes,you can bug your character in a wall,unable to move.The best way to get over it is to start again.
Sometimes you can block your items in a wall.
Well,aside that,I conclude that this game is great.I played it about 4 times.It's worth every second of it!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a survival horror adventure game by Frictional Games.
You take on the role of Daniel - a man who wakes up to find himself in a mysterious German castle, with his memory completely missing. Daniel must explore the castle and learn it's mysteries, as well as rediscovering his own past.
Played from a first-person perspective, the first brave move by the developers is keeping the player weaponless, forcing them to use their wits to evade and conceal themselves from the malevolent denizens of the castle. Gameplay is mainly exploration with some puzzle solving - there are quite a few fetch quests as well. The player must also avoid the dark forces that are pursuing him.
Daniel has a simple health system, but also needs to look after his sanity as well, otherwise he will faint and become vulnerable. Hiding in darkness and witnessing horrible things drains your sanity, in a cruel twist hiding in darkness is sometimes the only way to evade an antagonist, so it becomes a balancing act. You do have a lantern that has a finite supply of oil as well as tinder boxes that can be used to light the way, but again these have to be carefully managed. The difficulty level ramps up very quickly, this might put off casual gamers
The graphics are nothing special but are well suited to the atmosphere of the game, with the crumbling old castle well-textured and imaginatively detailed. The game engine means that we can throw boxes and barrels around, which is sometimes necessary for creating barricades or steps.
The sound is very well done, there are ominous creaks and groans, and you'll find yourself straining your ears to listen for pursuers. Sound becomes a major factor when you're hiding and trying to work out if you're still being chased. There's also some really nice music that suits the mood very well.
This is easily the scariest game I've ever played. It took me ages to finish because I didn't like playing it an night. Periods of exploration and puzzle/solving are punctuated by moments of sheer terror, and you'll find yourself soon jumping at every little sound or shadow.
Something is stalking me, but it's been over an hour and I still don't know what by. I do know I want to avoid it at all costs, as that guttural growl sounded utterly horrific, and more than a match for my lantern. I extinguish the flame and cower in the gloom, my eyes adjusting to the darkness enough for me to see the length of the desolate corridor in one of Castle Brennenberg's crumbling wings. A shuffling sound and creaking floorboards alert my attention to something nearby. Should I run? I can't sit here for long; the darkness is affecting my state of mind, and I'm starting to hallucinate. Creeping, scratching noises accompany the arrival of an army of crimson bugs, crawling around my feet and obscuring my vision. I must act now, before I deteriorate.
Against all instinct, I emerge back into the flickering torchlight. The bugs subside. I slowly advance down the hallway. The growl returns, only much louder this time. It must be right behind me. In panic, I sprint down the hallway toward the door at its end. I can feel it gaining on me, I daren't look back. I don't think I can make it. I hurl the solid wooden door open, but I need to stop and close it to buy valuable seconds. As I turn, I catch a glimpse of some shadowy monstrosity just feet away. I slam the door shut - almost instantly, its thick panels buckle under a thunderous impact. It won't hold long. My vision deteriorates as the stress levels increase. I have to hide. The only chance to save myself is by facing the darkness again.
At this point, heart pounding and mentally fatigued, I pause Amnesia, take a deep breath, and remove my headphones. It then dawns on me that my girlfriend has gone to bed, my coffee went cold an hour ago, and my shirt is holding more sweat than sauna full of compulsive eaters. Oh, Survival Horror - how I've missed you.
As you'll probably have surmised, Amnesia: The Dark Descent isn't a game about Dominic O'Brien's journey to the summit of Everest on a particularly clear day. You begin in the knowledge that you are Daniel, a scholarly Englishman from Mayfair, and that is all. Bewildered, disorientated, and with no recollection of what brought you here, you are trapped in the seemingly deserted Castle Brennenberg in 19th Century Prussia. The first interaction you have is with a hastily scrawled note left by Daniel for himself, urging him to summon his courage and put an end to the horror of Brennenberg. At this juncture, Daniel only hints at the shadowy forces stalking him: it's advisable to embellish his cryptic inferences, as they really do no justice at all to what's laying in wait.
Scandinavian indie developer Frictional Games flaunt an innate understanding of the constituent parts of great Horror; clearly heavily influenced by the edicts of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction. Where many games rely on the overt to provoke an audience reaction, in Amnesia and its older sibling Penumbra, it's the continued suggestion yet prolonged absence of immediate threat that is infinitely more terrifying. In this environment, vulnerability drives adrenaline, and adrenaline drives imagination. The result is a thousand nightmarish visions being created by the mind rather than a single one processed by the eyes. The lack of any physical protection and weaponry is old news - Project Zero managed this masterfully years ago - but in that game, great as it was, you generally knew what to expect from both the setting and the enemy. Amnesia gives you absolutely no compass with which your mind can map its own expectations, and the result is genuinely unsettling.
Your task is to search the castle for the truth, gathering scattered pages of Daniel's journal and other clues to Brennenberg's history, whilst battling with psychological trauma and escaping the abominations stalking you throughout the decaying structures. With his mental fragility exacerbated by disturbing events, specifically being lost in darkness for too long or encountering something horrific, awful dilemmas frequently present themselves: namely how long can be spent hiding in the gloom before being forced out to face the terror. This light and dark mechanic is Amnesia's fulcrum, with the scattered tinderboxes and oil bottles throughout Brannenberg providing opportunities to stabilise Daniel's mental state, and on a routine level, illuminate the often pitch-black environs for exploration.
Sound is pivotal to Amnesia's experience; a tangled medley of instrumental, vocal, and jarring ambient effects. It could be faint whimpering, falling masonry, or the appalling growls of your shadowy pursuers; the assault on the senses is inexorable and unrelenting as the latent menace of Brennenberg slowly manifests. Trepidation greets every closed door and new location, with shifts in atmosphere or sinister effects ensuring any perceived sense of safety is short-lived. It's not just external sounds that feed the ambience; at times Daniel suffers mental instability, from either a prolonged time spent in darkness or a glimpse of something horrendous, and your hallucinations only serve to intensify the oppressive audio. Sometimes this takes the form of scrambling insects, sometimes nonsensical mutterings, and eventually accompanied by a disorientating vertigo attack. It cannot be overstated how eerily complimentary the audio and visual elements are; and quality headphones are imperative to fully appreciate it.
Puzzles provide the engine for advancement, and they generally demand little from the player. Often taking the form of the simple find item/combine item/use item cakewalks you've seen myriad times before, they are probably Amnesia's biggest failing. Despite its terrifying nature, it's not a particularly complicated game to overcome, with most of the frustrations rooted not in inherent difficulty, but in overlooking an item and having to retread an area to recover it, or in the early stages running out of tinderboxes and having to perform methodical room searches to gather more. The PC controls are well suited to the gentle physics elements though, and the momentum-driven mouse push/pulls to interact with moveable objects smartly add depth to the atmosphere, particularly when anxiously inching open a creaking door.
Visually, Amnesia cannot help but confess to its indie foundations. Castle Brennenberg is an oppressive but aesthetically similar environment, and whilst not completely lacking in variety, by the conclusion you'll be glad to see the back of the unrelenting bleakness. There are some impressively inventive touches, such as the way Daniel's pupils slowly adapt to darkness, or the foreboding murk upon entering the severely creepy Archives, but in all honesty, your senses will find themselves occupied with other, more primal activities than appreciating the architecture. On balance, bearing in mind just a handful of people can claim involvement in the final code, I think Frictional Games can be proud of their understatedly crafted opus.
Amnesia presented moments where I genuinely struggled to proceed, such is the intensity of the experience. The waterlogged Archives and its obstacle-laden sprint to safety almost witnessed my heart tearing its way through my ribcage onto the keyboard, while the frankly spiteful storage area-cum-torture chamber that followed had me crushing Daniel almost flat in a darkened recess, cowering and hallucinating, while the growls inched closer, and closer - the acoustics building to a petrifying crescendo of white noise, pounding drum beat, and the crawl of the imaginary insects swarming. You'd anticipate this technique becoming a blunt tool after repeated use, but the combination of Brennenberg, your revolting pursuers and your own psychology somehow manages to elevate the fear factor throughout. It's a perfect equilibrium between the transient relief of safety, the gradual creep of suspense, and the inevitable cardiac arrest moments, with the polarities often unbearably prolonged. It's quite some achievement for a game to use the same ploy right across the story arc and elicit consistent player responses, and some major developers could take much from Frictional's uncluttered approach.
I've always maintained it would take something spectacularly trouser-wetting to tempt me back into playing survival horror games. Well here it is, and my trousers are indeed saturated. Console fans of this style of game will probably want to know how it compares with the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, two mainstream benchmarks for the genre over the past generation. In my opinion, the games are too incongruent to compare. It may be less polished than both overall, but Amensia is immeasurably more psychologically driven than Resident Evil, and far less overtly visceral than Silent Hill. For those who have played the latter, try to envisage a game that manages to invoke that sense of dread when static first crackled over your radio... for its entirety. The result is a spectacular victory for those who subscribe to the maxim that less is more, and that the dusty recesses of your own mind are a far more fertile breeding ground for true horror than any artist's sketchbook. It's an interesting take on a horribly abused genre; a genre which I thought had exhausted itself of the capacity to scare the living crap out of me. I'm not sure I could call Amnesia a pleasurable experience, as at times I genuinely wanted to wimp out as the tension became manifestly unpleasant; Christ, it very nearly had me reaching for my girlfriend's Disney movies for therapy. What I can call it though, is a near perfectly crafted mindf**k. Did I mention it cost me an obscene £8 on Steam?
Put your headphones on. Turn the lights out. Put a towel round your ankles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5uoZh_uatQ - Headphones please, or I'll be angry.