The darkness pierces deep into your heart as you descend deeper into the castle. Your lantern shows just a sliver of the way ahead of you as you step down the stairs. There is a door ahead of you. You slowly and cautiously open the door. A dark room with a bookcase and a table and a door to the left. As you step through you hear a deep bellowing moan. You panic and shut the door behind you. You run into the next room and find a closet. You open the door and step in and close it, hiding within. You hear heavy footsteps and a crash as the door is thrown open. You wait a bit and the footsteps fade into the distance. You open the door to see if its safe. You continue to the next room and enter a long hallway filled with lanterns. Then again the chilling bellow of the creature frightens you. You sprint forward as you hear a door break behind you. You rush into the next room and notice a crank for a gate. You have little time to escape and there is no place to hide. This is just one of the many heart pumping moments of Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
This indie game from Frictional Games may seem to be a dull game at first but it is very much the contrary. As Daniel you start out waking up in a dark castle. A storm is brewing outside as you stumble to your feet. Without giving away any spoilers, the main plot of Amnesia is explained in a letter you wrote to yourself. You have no memory, amnesia, you have also self-inflicted it. Your goal is to make your way to the inner most sanctum and kill Alexander. But beware there is a shadow following you, a living nightmare. It is from here that you set upon your quest of terror. You will find notes and journal enteries all pulling you deeper into the story of what has brought you here and the mystery behind it all.
The game is based not around cheap scares but more on terror and the fear of the unknown. The game wants you to think, “what if theres a monster around the next corner?” It thrives off this concept as the game is dark and filled with danger. One of the elements that adds to the games terror is the lack of combat. You can not fight monsters what so ever. So it is up to you to run and hide in a dark corner until the monster leaves. This also leads to another key element, sanity. As in other Lovecraft inspired games such as Call of Cthulhu and Eternal Darkness, everything in the game has an effect on your sanity. Seeing monsters, lingering in darkness and witnessing unsettling events all drop your sanity. As it drops you will start to loose focus and hallucinate. Things like staying in the light and solving puzzles regain your sanity. So the only sure fire way to keep yourself from going insane is to keep progressing through the game.
The gameplay is adventure and puzzle solving. Be it finding pieces to make a drill which will allow you to drill into a vat which will give you liquids to make an explosive compound which will clear a blocked path ,to simply finding a way to break a worn padlock, all are much more difficult then they seem to be. The gameplay is really topnotch. I really like games that test your skill and wits way more than simple shooters like Call of Duty. This game will test just how quick and witty you can be with a unique control system that has you pull or rotate objects as you would in real life.
The graphics and physics are very good with water being the most well polished. It is so good in fact that my computer could barely handle it as it would slow when I was in an area with a certain amount. There is actually not very many areas with water in them which is actually a good thing and you’ll find out why when you play.
The sound both in terms of the sound and music as well as voicework is superb. When you find Daniels scattered journal enteries he will give a commentary of what the entry is. Also at certain areas there will be a flashback to give a more indepth feel of how gruesome the castle was and what took place there long ago as well as some of Daniel’s encounters there. From the deep bellow of the Shadow, to the moaning warning of an approaching monster it will all chill you and make you think twice about what you do next.
I will recommend this game more than anything else out there. The amount of detail and sheer creativity and craftsmanship that Frictional games has endowed into this masterpieces is astounding. The fact that this game hasn’t got it’s deserved recognition is a disrespect. Although Joystiq and Gameinformer have both done very well written pieces that applaud the games craftsmanship, I feel it needs more recognition. If you haven’t already, get this game. Steam has sales every now and then Amnesia was already on it twice I picked it up half-off. They have their christmas sale right now. If not Steam then you can purchase it on the maker’s website. Get this game just in time for the holidays and try not to wet your pants. Merry Christmas.[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]