There is definitely something to be said for independently developed games, and if Amnesia: The Dark Descent is anything to go by that something seems to be “fuuuuuuuu….what is that crawling out of the cupboard, oh Jesus please don’t let it see me.” For many of you, Frictional Games’ latest offering will have slipped completely past your radars what with some of the more explosive action titles to have come out recently, but if you’re willing to put down your more generic first-person shooters for a moment, you may find this gem of a game has the capacity not only to tickle your gaming interests, but give you good reason to chew your own elbows off in fear as well.
The story is your basic Lovecraft-inspired affair which too many games in the survival horror genre cling to you; as the protagonist, wake up in a decrepit Prussian castle unable to recollect your past whilst being hunted down by unspeakable horrors. Nothing incredibly groundbreaking or original so far. But wait a minute, where is my weapon slot? You mean I can pick up and use virtually every free- standing object in this crumbling castle, but I can’t even equip this rusting sword plucked straight from a coat of arms to defend myself from the wandering squid monsters? Touché Amnesia, I stand in awe. Scratch that, I cower in the shadow of the nearest pillar in awe, praying to God that lumbering Cthulu doesn’t have the brain capacity to follow my meandering trail of piss. This is a game that has realised the potential of stripping the player of any chance they have of standing down against a horde of monsters, let alone one single hell spawn. Your only means of survival in this twisted world is to hide your sorry arse from anything that moves, and I do mean anything. Whilst desperately trying to piece together your shattered memory and force your way to the games terrifying conclusion you will find yourself screaming and running like a little girl to he nearest hidey hole the second a door unexpectedly slams open near you, only to realise it was caused by the wind blowing through from the next room.
Amnesia is not without its faults of course, graphically it pales in comparison to most games produced since 2004 and the puzzles never caused me to scratch my head over what I should be doing at any point, a glaring omission in what is supposed to be a cerebrally challenging game. However, as a jaded lover of the survival horror genre made cynical by recent supposed ’scary’ games (I’m looking at you Alan Wake and Dead Space) I can forgive Amnesia these minor flaws for its ability to create absolutely terrifying moments of gameplay for me. If you have ten pounds to spare, and don’t mind not being able to sleep tonight I urge you to buy this game. Support independent developers and give yourself nightmares, what better way to screw the system?
Review by Duncan Stevens