If you haven't heard of Amnesia or at least know about it, then I would be pressed to say that you, yes you, yourself may have amnesia. This series which started in 2010 with The Dark Descent was an instant cult classic and it's influences can be felt everywhere in the horror gaming genre. There would have never been a P.T. demo without this series, and I feel that most who have played this series would agree. Amnesia turns horror up on it's head and doesn't focus on the flashy effects. It instead focuses on the sanity of the individuals involved in the world as well as you the player at home. As the game informs you when you start it, this is an experience, this is not a game to be beat, take your time, don't worry about saving, and most of all enjoy.
Now obviously there are three different games in this collection, as such the review will discuss every part, gameplay, story, presentation, as well as fun factor as each individual game, so there will be some separation and if you only care about Dark Descent, then you can read only that part if you want to. The three games included are Amnesia: Dark Descent, Amnesia: Justine, and Amnesia: Machine for Pigs.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
To start off we have to talk about the original, because oh baby is it great. The original came out in 2010 to fantastic acclaim and there is a reason. It really is a great game through and through. The gameplay hook is simple and you won't be doing anything too complicated, but all of the game systems revolve around sanity and horror. You have an inventory, you are going to be collecting items as your journey throughout the world. These items will then interact with puzzles in the game. These puzzles can be as simple as moving items out of the way so that you can journey deeper into the castle/maze that you are currently residing in, or they can be as complex as putting together a machine so that you can turn on an elevator. Every aspect of this game is intelligently designed and works around the horror genre.
These puzzles are just one part of the overall puzzle however, (see what I did there!) the other main focus in the horror. Most games do horror in jump scares and you just move on. Amnesia makes horror the main mechanic. As you start to see some of the more gruesome and terrifying things in the world your character starts to become light headed, and if you pause the game you can check on your sanity meter to see how much of your sanity is left. The more you see the more scared you get, the game also plays with this idea with light in the world. Whenever you are in light, your sanity will increase, whenever you are in the dark, your sanity will decrease quickly. You find a lantern early on and it is a great mobile light source, however you run out of oil quickly. You also can light things in the environment such as torches and candles, but wind will blow them out time to time.
These game mechanics make for an intense fight already, but it doesn't end there. You will eventually run into the games monsters. These monsters may not be the most frightening looking face to face, but what they do your character is what matters. When you see the monsters you start to black out and the screen goes fuzzy. This mechanic is to make it so that if you see a monster you have to get away from it, slowly, and then face away meaning that you don't know where it is and have to rely on sound. With a mixture of resource management, puzzles, and horror aspects present throughout, this is one fun horror game that will last you around 7-8 hours, or less if you speed through sections of the game.
Much of what was written about The Dark Descent is true of Justine, it is DLC of the original. Now there is much less gameplay here, as it is only around 20 minutes long, but it can still be fun. You only have one life in this version, so if you die, you have to start all over. This is okay though because if you speed run this entire DLC it only lasts about 5-6 minutes top once you know what to do. Gameplay mechanics are all the same, there are less monsters and less types of monsters. The only big downgrade here is that you won't have to constantly light things and you will never get to use your lantern. It is a fun little "challenge" however and is a nice little addition to the entire package.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
This is the 2013 follow-up to the original Amnesia. This is kind of where the similarities start to fade however. A machine for Pigs is much more of a walking simulator than it's predecessor. There are puzzles, but they are pretty shallow and won't take you more than a few passing seconds to say "AHA!". This whole experience will last about 3-4 hours, and that's a good thing, because it is much less tense than it's scarier older brother. There is a lantern in the game, but all of the resource management is gone in this entry, so all of the tense moments about when to use your lantern or not stops mattering. You just leave it on. The sanity meter is gone, so you no longer are forced to look away from creatures or stay in the light. The inventory is also missing in this entry, which is weird and is why the puzzles seem so basic in the end. With no inventory the puzzles force you to carry the items by holding down R2, and it is usually a short walk. Overall there is very little substance to this entry and it will be over quickly enough.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
You can not take one step in this game and not be impressed with just how much the horror sinks in. The entire environment feels great and you will be impressed with just how much variety is present in the game itself. As you start in the hallways of the "castle" you will start to see some of the presentational gifts the game gives. You will start to see that the world is fuzzy and dizzy in the beginning. There are also flash backs that occur, these cause the character to suddenly go into a state that slows him down and then forces you to wait before journeying any further. These instances start to sell the world that you as the player are in. Every wall is decorated with art that is both creepy and believable, and every area feels like it is correctly designated.
Voice work here is also phenomenal. There are only a handful of voice in the game itself, but they all work to its betterment. Each note you pick up that has a voice attached to it helps to sell the story and the items that are laying on the ground. If you go into a room with blood everywhere and suddenly a flashback occurs with just voices, you feel as if the presentation there fits the entire experience. Not once will you think that something does not fit, and that's a good thing. The name of the game is not only survival, but also discovery. The presentation of The Dark Descent sells this time and time again, and you will be so glad that you did.
There are some minor complaints here though, one this is not an HD remake, at all. This is still the original PC version and as a result, the game does look very old in places. Inventory items look a little pixelated, and many of the environmental items fall flat, such as rocks and books. This is okay, but a nice coat of paint on these game would have been greatly appreciated. The other complaint here is texture pop-ins. If you move to fast looking left to right, the game will actually have pop-in textures and in many times will cause the frame rate to drop. It doesn't deter from the entire experience, but they are definitely present.
Take everything I said about The Dark Descent and apply it here. Justine is just as pretty of a game and again the voice work is phenomenal. Every moment of the game (20 minutes worth) is full of great moments. The characters here are all voiced and brings a sense of life into the experience. It may be short, but it does sell what the creators were pitching. It is a short presentational list because there is not much to talk about. The environments are less varied, but that's okay, it is only 20 minutes long after all.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
A Machine for Pigs is almost as good looking as its older brother, however it does falter in some ways. Environments are much different in this game because it takes place in London in what is probably the year 1900. As a result it is a bunch of cobbled stone, but the entire concept revolves around the "machine" aspect. So as you journey you see much more of the world as a dark and brooding experience with blood, guts, and oil everywhere. This is actually a good thing and helps set the two experiences apart. Machine for Pigs feels much more grounded in the real world, but because of this it sacrifices some of what made it unique. For example, in this entry you can not see in the dark, so if you are without light you are literally walking around and can not see a thing in front of you. Monsters are only one thing as well, pigs. Which is okay, but there is very little variety to them, and when you look at them the sanity aspect is gone so the fear you get when looking at them is very much lessened.
The biggest positive though is that it runs like a champ. There is no graphical tearing, voice acting is superb as always and the experience sells the world. When you reach the end of the game it all makes sense and you will really appreciate the world they created, even if it does feel a little dull in comparison to the other two entries in the collection.
All three experiences have fantastic stories and they require a little bit of thinking. I will not go in depth with all three, but lets just say they are something of a gem in horror games. For the original, Dark Descent, the story is told through notes and flashbacks of the two main characters. This back and forth will keep going and it explains the story of the castle and why there are just bodies laying everywhere. This story really is good, and by the end of it you will really feel special. Also there are multiple endings for this entry, but pro tip, if you want to see them all you can quit right before the credits pop and you can see all three, and they are all worth seeing. Justine does have three endings as well, and all are tied to who you let live and die. This is the weakest story in the entire bunch, it's not bad, but it never has time to develop so by the time it starts, its over. A Machine for Pigs was my favorite story though. It has only one ending, but I didn't really see the ending coming. It hits you like a freight train and once you realize the setting and time it was set it, it really does seem plausible and believable. Really all three have great stories and worth playing, but Justine is definetly the weakest link in the experience.
Now here is where i'm going to break it down for most people. Amnesia Collection is not for everyone. In fact if you played this previously on the PC I would say it's definitely not worth your time. This is an okay collection of a great game, with some okay stuff in the middle. There are definitely better games out there in 2016 now with horror motif's, such as Outlast. This means that even though the horror that is present in these games still holds up, it is a little on the outdated side. The graphics are the same as when they came out and nothing has really been added to the overall package to make it matter to fans of the series. I hope it does well and that we see more of these games come out to console, because horror games are definitely lacking on the console space.
If you haven't played these games, it is definitely worth your money and time. There are now trophies added, so for those who have played but it's been a while, there is some challenges in there to test your knowledge. Overall though, the package is sweet for those who have never entered these terrifying worlds, but maybe doesn't add enough for those who have played these games before.
|+ Atmospheric Horror||– Bugs (graphical tearing)|
|+ Game Mechanics||– Justine and A Machine for Pigs|
|+ Stories are original and fun||– No added content|
|+ Voice Work||– No resolution or graphical update|
|+ Original Amnesia is still a masterpiece 6 years later|