The Amnesia series has sent shivers down the spines of countless gamers ever since its debut back in 2010, but I think Amnesia: The Bunker might be its most unnerving release yet. I mean, come on, imagine being trapped in a bunker with a monstrous beast stalking you… it’s terrifying.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Amnesia: The Bunker takes place during the first World War, with players taking on the role of a French soldier who awakens in a bunker after sustaining an injury in battle. Things take an unsettling turn though when you realise the bunker abandoned, the exit sealed off, and the mutilated corpses of your comrades are scattered across your surroundings. It turns out that there’s a monster crawling through the bunker and making mincemeat of anyone it encounters, putting players into a fight for survival as they uncover the resources needed to escape whilst also evading the monster’s wrath.

The narrative actually goes into a lot of depth thanks to all of the documents and photographs you find, with Amnesia: The Bunker a lore-rich experience. These feel especially intriguing because they blend together the real plight of soldiers during the war with the fictional horrors of the world of Amnesia, which does make for some genuinely engaging storytelling. It helped make the whole thing all the more believable, and whilst it doesn’t take as many unusual turns as other titles in the series, the game’s narrative did stand out more than that of its predecessors.

I’m happy to say that the gameplay is equally engrossing, with the best comparison point being to the brilliant Alien: Isolation. You’re trapped in the bunker and have to explore through its depths if you hope to have any chance of escape, but there’s a creature tunnelling around you. You’ll hear it move, you’ll hear it scream, and you’ll see it investigate every little noise you make… and when it gets you in its sights? You have to run for your life. The monster itself is ferocious and frightening to look at, but it’s the sound design of the game that makes it so terrifying; you’ll hear it before you see it, with every noise you hear and make leaving you with a sense of imminent danger. It is SO unnerving and makes even the simplest of tasks you complete in the game feel like a fight for survival, but it’s also what makes Amnesia: The Bunker so damn thrilling to play.

“The monster itself is ferocious and frightening to look at, but it’s the sound design of the game that makes it so terrifying; you’ll hear it before you see it, with every noise you hear and make leaving you with a sense of imminent danger.”

The objectives of the game are pretty straight forward, with players having to gather items, open pathways, find codes to open locks, and so forth, with Amnesia: The Bunker hardly feeling revolutionary in that regard. You’ll be doing a lot of the same things you would have done in other first-person horror titles over the last ten years, so I’d hardly call it an innovative experience. It does offer a sense of freedom in how it lets you approach tasks though, with some proving more efficient than others. A locked door blocking your path? Blast it open with a grenade, or maybe find an alternate route through a vent. Need light to see through a darkened area? You could use some fuel to power the generator temporarily to lighten up the bunker’s hallways, or maybe you could just charge up your portable torch. Using the generator means using up the limited fuel you can find, but charging the torch is noisy and might capture the monster’s attention – it’s a catch-22 situation where you’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons. It gives players the chance to be creative and, more importantly, careful with their approach, which is pretty useful when you’ve got a nasty monster reacting to every noise you make…

You’re not completely helpless when facing off against the monster though, with players armed with a revolver than can be used to shoot at it to momentarily halt it. This gives you a chance to run away and hide, but with ammo a limited commodity, you’ve got to pick your moment to shoot carefully. You’re also able to use grenades, Molotov cocktails, or explosive gas canisters as a means of stopping it in its tracks, but again, it’ll only give you a brief window of time to run away out of harm’s reach. Amnesia: The Bunker isn’t built around defeating the beast, but instead escaping it – this means planning your actions carefully, using your limited resources sparingly, and knowing when to run and hide.

One of the more interesting ideas of Amnesia: The Bunker is the fact that it takes place in an open environment, with the player given the freedom to explore their surroundings in any way they like (providing the pathway is open). It actually gives the game a non-linear feeling, especially since there are multiple objectives to complete, but it could be guilty of feeling artificial. Despite being open in design, there were a few occasions where I’d have to find something in a different area before I was able to progress, meaning it’s better if you complete tasks in a specific order. Whilst this is fine, it does mean that the more open aspects of exploration could be to your detriment, especially since you’ll use up valuable resources exploring or may find yourself at risk of encountering the monster only to realise you can’t actually progress through an area yet (or the rats which are a nightmare to deal with). It’s a neat idea in principle and there were times when the game’s more open design could really flourish, but there were also occasions where it could have been more effectively executed.

Check out some screenshots down below:

This didn’t stop Amnesia: The Bunker from being a real thrill to play though, with it proving incredibly satisfying when you get through a challenging situation unscathed after using your wits and careful resource management to survive. And when you do encounter the monster but manage to outsmart it? It feels good (and terrifying in equal measure). There’s something about the looming sense of danger that can make the game feel a little uncomfortable to play, but it’s also the best thing about it… us horror fans are a weird bunch, right?

Amnesia: The Bunker Review

Amnesia: The Bunker is an unnerving experience that’ll both terrify and enthral players in equal measure thanks to its gripping gameplay. I loved exploring the bunker, finding clever ways to progress, and carefully evading the wrath of the creature, whilst the moments where it was on my back were always exciting as I fought for survival. And sure, the open-world design of the game isn’t always executed perfectly, but the sense of progress you feel as you open new pathways and complete objectives is always satisfying.

It’s just a really fun direction for the Amnesia series to take, with Amnesia: The Bunker delivering the scares that the series is known for in a very different way. Its individual components of gameplay may not necessarily do anything you wouldn’t have seen before, but put together? They make for a really good (and really spooky) time.

Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC