Posted: December 24, 2013
First of all, this game was not developed by Frictional. It was developed by The Chinese Room: the studio behind Dear Escher. When I discovered that during its development, I became skeptical as to the quality of this game. I did, however, respect that it was a spiritual successor of Amnesia: The Dark Decent, and figured that it still had the opportunity to be an intriguing horror experience. I was incorrect.
My first complaint comes from simplified mechanics, of which there are barely any at all. The inventory system has been removed entirely, and with both health and sanity. Managing health becomes trivial, as there are no situations in which you must do so, while sanity has been removed altogether. Hiding in the darkness no longer has its trade offs, while looking at the monsters does nothing. Monsters now only make your electric lamp flicker from quite distance away, removing the fear of their presence. This is part of another changed mechanic: oil conservation has been done away with as well in favor of the infinite energy electric lamp. At this point, only the levels themselves are left to make the game live up to its predecessor, which they don't.
The game has been designed to be insultingly linear. Each level is a single, straight, path with no choices on how to proceed. The vast majority of monster encounters are scripted, along with a dozen or so out of place shock scares (I could reveal all of them and not spoil the plot). The levels themselves are badly designed and a pain to navigate, with large inaccessible areas and crappy lighting only made worse by the infinite lamp. The puzzles are all remarkably simple now that the inventory is gone. The only thing that makes this worse is the writing of the story.
In the first act, The Chinese Room makes sure you know they made it by coming in so heavy with metaphors that you can't decipher any real context until you are a good amount into the game. As you try to ground yourself in the game's story, TCR continuously throws "deeper meaning" straight at your face until the story becomes completely drowned in its own pretentious metaphors and symbolism by the third act in a way that is relatable to the Matrix trilogy. The only parts of the story that feel as though they actually belong in the Amnesia universe are the references to the original game (albeit with one glaring inconsistency).
Overall, I disapprove of this game. The mechanics are simplified, the levels are horribly designed, and the story feels like it was written by an undergraduate art student. If you have never played Amnesia: The Dark Decent, buy that instead. If you have played it, then still don't buy this. Wait for SOMA.