Amnesia: The Dark Descent sent a chill through the world of gaming when it launched in 2010, with its ground-breaking take on the horror genre setting the foundation for countless imitators down the line. It birthed plenty of YouTube videos of gamers screaming at the many scares found across the decrepit hallways of its gothic castle setting too, which in turn helped make developer Frictional Games a household name in the industry.
It followed with a sequel three years later, though it didn’t manage to garner the same praise and attention that the original did – there was a change of developer between entries though, which is something that a lot of gamers see as the reason why it wasn’t quite as good as the original. Now, ten years on from their initial success, Frictional Games are back at the helm for the latest entry in the series Amnesia: Rebirth.
Amnesia: Rebirth puts players in the role of Tasi Trianon, a pregnant archaeologist who finds herself stranded within the scorching desert of Algeria when her plane crashes down. With her crew members missing and Tasi suffering from amnesia (ah ha!), she ventures through her surroundings in the hope of tracking them down and finding some form of safety. Of course, this is a horror game, so the discoveries she makes on this trek through the sun-scorched sands and darkened tombs aren’t only mysterious but full of frights too.
I found myself completely absorbed in Amnesia: Rebirth’s tale, with the sense of intrigue behind what’s going on growing with every revelation that is made across the narrative. There’s always a sense of unease to be felt with the events at hand, but you can’t help but to feel hope that Tasi will eventually find her way to safety. With multiple endings on offer based upon the actions you take during the game and how well you manage Tasi’s sanity though, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to see a happy conclusion…
The core gameplay mechanics of Amnesia: Rebirth revolves around fear, which is something that’s pretty understandable given that it is a horror title… duh. As you explore your surroundings you’ll encounter an array of disturbing sights, whilst the grotesque monsters that linger around you will always keep you on the edge of your seat and *hoping* that they won’t get you in their grasp. They will eventually, of course, but those moments in between when you’re trying to sneak around unscathed? They’re bloody intense.
Players are tasked with keeping Tasi’s fear levels stabilised during these instances, which is something that is achieved by successfully hiding from the creatures that are stalking you or by lighting up a darkened area. Matches are your friend in the game and will be your main source of light, with each strike of a flame bringing with it a sense of ease for Tasi – they can also be used to light up the torches that are found across the environment, giving players a longer-lasting source of brightness to offer a moment’s solace between all of the exploration. They are a finite resource though, so you’ll have to use them sparingly if you hope to have enough to see you through your adventure.
You’re also equipped with a strange artefact that allows Tasi to open up portals within the environment, taking you to some of the game’s more disturbing locales and adding an additional sense of mystery to the narrative. I don’t want to detail these moments too much in this review, but you can certainly expect some surprises…
Of course, there’s more to the Amnesia series than just exploring scary-looking locations, with plenty of monsters to be found that’ll look to send chills down your spine as you try to find your way to safety. Much like in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, your encounters with these enemies are frightening thanks to the way that they constantly stalk you when you’re in their sight, whilst you can also expect your sanity to take a bit of a hit when they get you in their grasp (though getting caught doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily die so the consequences aren’t always too severe).
It means that you’ve always got to have some awareness of your surroundings, not only to know the best hiding spots but to make sure that the monstersa don’t see you when you’re in the middle of exploring or solving one of the many environmental-puzzles that you’ll encounter. Speaking of puzzles, they’re generally pretty well-designed across the game, though there were a couple that felt a little annoying to solve – especially when you find yourself being pursued by one of the many nasties of the game at the same time. Whilst Amnesia: Rebirth is intentionally designed to play out this way, it made for some moments that felt more frustrating than they did suspenseful.
Besides those moments though, Amnesia: Rebirth is masterful as far as building an eerie and unnerving atmosphere is concerned. The environments you explore are crafted to feel both eerie and believable in design, the sounds you hear as you wander the seemingly empty pathways will have you constantly in fear that something is watching you, whilst the jump scares (of which there are many) will ALWAYS catch you off-guard when you think that you’re safe. Basically, you can expect all of the hallmarks of your typical horror adventure, though they’re used in an efficient way to help induce a constant sense of dread in the player. As a big fan of psychological horror, I loved it, even if there were some ideas used that I’ve seen PLENTY of times before over the years.
Amnesia: Rebirth marks a triumphant return to form for the series, with the horrifying story and eerie atmosphere sure to send plenty of chills down gamers’ spines. Whilst there’s no denying that it doesn’t feel as innovative as it did back in 2010, there’s still scares aplenty as you embark on Tasi’s unnerving journey to not only survive but maintain her sanity at the same time.
If you’re eager for an eerie treat this Halloween, you needn’t look any further than Amnesia: Rebirth.
Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC