What evil-minded sadistic group of assorted bastards and she-bastards would create such a wicked manifestation of pure horror such as this? Amnesia: The Dark Descent is an indie game, but mother of crap it’s the single most terrifying game I’ve ever played. Dead Space 2 and Condemned: Criminal Origins have nothing on this masterpiece of fear and suspense.
I should mention, though, before I continue with my review in earnest, the nature of horror games and the ways in which they can be played. Playing a horror genre video game at noon with all the lights on is akin to saying, “I’m trying not to be afraid of this horror game because I’m trying to prove something about myself that really doesn’t matter.” Really though. People won’t look up to you for not being scared of Amnesia. The thing is, boys and girls, games like these are made for people who want to be scared.
This game was designed to make you wait until it’s dark out, then have you turn off all your lights, put in some high quality headphones, and lean in close to the screen to get as immersed as humanly possible. Oh, and above all else: WANT to be scared. I guarantee, if you go in with that mind set, you’ll love Amnesia like no other game you’ve known. With that in mind and behind us, let’s talk about Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
The player takes control of a man named Daniel, who has written a note to himself explaining that he erased his own memories in order to become a better person. Also mentioned in this note is that he must descend to the Inner Sanctum of the Prussian Brennenburg castle and murder a man named Alexander. He notes but does not fully explain why a faceless, persistent, psychological force (later termed “The Shadow”) is hunting him. On your journey, you must complete various puzzles and pass through dangerous traps in order to find your way to Alexander, all the while dealing with your own dwindling sanity…
Gameplay mechanics! My favorite part, particularly the combat bit. Do you know why? I’ll tell you why. There is no combat! If you encounter one of the wretched enemies of Amnesia, your only option is to run, run, and run some more. Hide yourself in a cabinet, barricade a door with chairs and boxes, sprint like a crazed Englishman, just don’t let any of those creature features touch you! They have claws, and there isn’t a chance in Hell you’ll be able to find some medieval armor or swords with which to defend yourself. This is survival horror game. You run, you hide, or you die. But don’t stay in the dark too long…
But don’t despair! There’s hope for you yet! You get a lantern and lantern oil (which you should never use because you don’t know when you might need it), you get tinderboxes for lighting torches (which you shouldn’t even consider using without knowing that it wouldn’t be a mistake to do so), and you occasionally find laudanum, which is used to heal. If you ever do get caught by one of the creatures and thrashed a bit, you’ll need this to patch yourself up. It’s okay to use this; sanity is overrated, health is not.
Now that you’re out and buying Amnesia: The Dark Descent from its self-titled website, you can look forward to having one of the scariest gaming experiences you’ll ever know! Ah, ah. Don’t tell me you’re not buying this less than fifteen dollar game. It runs on Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Just remember: Headphones, volume up, lights out, lean in close! Have fun.