Posted: June 27
If you're a fan of the survival horror genre, get this game. Amnesia came out just as that genre of video games was really building in popularity, and it did a damn good job of kicking it off with a bang.
Amnesia borrows a lot of the successful elements from the Penumbra series (made by the same company), but it easily stands on its own. The survival-horror elements in Amnesia are really quite well done; the atmosphere in the game is some of the most interesting and genuine I've experienced, and it really pairs extremely well with the fascinating and unique story that begins to unravel as you delve deeper into Castle Brennenburg. I won't elaborate on the story, but it, combined with the atmosphere, made for one of my all time favorite game experiences.
Enemy ecounters are scripted, and while this does limit the game to about two really good playthroughs, it does work quite well while the experience is still fresh. Even still, Amnesia's fairly unique "phychological horror" approach has won this game over most other in the horror genre; instead of a steady stream of jump scares and gory imagry, Amnesia goes another path and lets players look into the darkness, imagine what's in there, and sometimes struggle to find out if it's real or not. The first hour of the game involves the player exploring the castle, solving puzzles, and gaining an introduction to the story - that's it, but it works remarkebly well, because as you look into a dark room you expect something to be there, even if it's not. This only makes the real encounters all the more frightening. Beyond that, you are defenseless in the game, weak, and all you can do is hide, which brings in the sanity system.
One of the more interesting aspects of the game is your sanity meter. There are several light sources in the game (you have a lantern that uses scarce fuel, and tinderboxes to light stationary torches), but light is not always your ally. In order to hide from the enemies in the game, you must remain in the darkness, but stay in the darkness too long and your sanity will deteriorate. As your sanity goes down, your character begins to hallucinate, the environments change, your vision and motor skills deteriorate, and it becomes easier for you to be spotted. This is a very unique gameplay element, and I wish more games in the genre used similar systems.
Even once the scripted encounters render the main game stale, you're not nearly out of luck. Frictional Games allows players access to a free level editor, and there is now a good community with custom stories, which are downloadable "levels" that can be accessed from the main menu of the game. These have made Amnesia's replay value tremendous. Some of these user created addons are quite lengthy, and actually surpass the main game in their quality.
If you're a fan of horror games, Amnesia is arguably one of the best out there. Plug in your headphones, turn the lights off, and enjoy (or crap your pants).