Back in 2010, Amnesia: Dark Descent was released for the PC to rave reviews. Collecting the original Amnesia, the short Justine expansion, and the sequel, A Machine For Pigs, Amnesia Collection is a horror survival masterpiece. For less than the cost of most games you can get all three. Now let me tell you why you should.
The original game, and the first that players should tackle, is Amnesia: Dark Descent. Your character awakens in a old castle with no memory besides his name, Daniel. Finding his identity is a major part of the narrative in Amnesia, and while not the best story, it is fun to follow along and learn how Daniel made his way to that room. Most of this is done with letters and flashbacks Daniel finds throughout the castle.
The first thing you must know about Amnesia, is that it’s all about scares and survival. Players won’t be fighting monsters, in fact it’s the point of the game to avoid, hide, and sneak past any enemies. Along the way players’ senses are assaulted by darkness and creepy sounds. I highly recommend players heed the advice of the game and play in a dark room with headphones. This is where Amnesia is at its best. If you aren’t scared by the amazing sounds of the wind, bugs crunching under your feet, and Daniel’s own nervous breathing and footsteps, you are a braver soul than I.
There are various basic puzzles that players must solve to progress further and further into the castle. Most are very easy, but some can be a bit tricky to figure out. The most innovative and important feature of Amnesia is the sanity management. Players must pick up and use oil for their lamp and tinderboxes to light candles in darkened areas. These areas, if left dark, will sap away Daniel’s sanity. Sanity is represented in the player menu along with health, but also affects Daniels breathing and even causes your controller to shake as your mind breaks under the constant threat of whatever is hiding in the darkness. Sanity is also affected by looking at enemies, so don’t stare — it’s rude to anyway.
Another interesting aspect of Amnesia is that doors and drawers can be opened with care or flung open. Players must select the door or drawer they are opening and can slowly open them, to take a peek. This is a must when hiding in closets and sneaking around monsters. That is really the basis of the gameplay in Amnesia: Dark Descent: sneaking and maintaining your sanity while solving some basic puzzles to access new areas and further the story. If you missed this one back in 2010, it will likely become your new favorite survival horror game.
Amnesia Collection also includes the short, but challenging Justine DLC. It’s the same gameplay as the original, but this time players control a woman who wakes up with amnesia in a dungeon. There are several interesting choices players must make, where puzzles have to be solved or innocent NPCs will die, and there are various endings depending also on these choices.
The third selection for the Amnesia Collection is Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, released in 2013 for PC. This time around, the original developer, Frictional Games, stepped aside for developer The Chinese Room, best known for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
A Machine For Pigs is much more focused on story than Dark Descent, with the removal of the sanity mechanic, and also the need to keep replenishing tinderboxes and oil. Some players will welcome this difficulty change, but I felt it really took away from what made Dark Descent so intense. A Machine for Pigs takes place many years later in 1899, as players take control of Oswald Mandus, a wealthy butcher. Upon his return from an expedition to Aztec ruins, Oswald awakens in a fevered state and sets out, following apparitions of his two sons.
Players must solve puzzles and explore much larger areas, now with no fear of running out of light from the lantern. Along the way Oswald will discover letters and clues revealing how he got to this point and what happened to his boys. While definitely not as strong a release as the original Amnesia, A Machine for Pigs is still a great game, just not nearly as scary and immersive. Being a newer release, the graphics are definitely better, but the ambiance and gameplay is just not as creepy as the first.
If you played the originals and loved them, this is a perfect chance to pick them up for console. If you never played the originals and are a fan of scary games, pick up Amnesia Collection. For the price point of $29.99 you can own three amazing games. While the graphics were not overhauled or updated and are definitely showing their age, Amnesia is still the king of immersive horror survival games. Now turn off the lights, put on your headset, and prepare to be afraid…
Amnesia Collection is available now for Playstation 4. This review is based on a copy provided for review purposes.
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