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151 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessence of Uniqueness, Not to Mention Scariness
Amnesia provides a much-needed break from today's omnipresent first-person shooters (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.). Not only is Daniel, the unfortunate dude that you as a player get to control, unable to go trigger-happy with an assault rifle, he is incapable of defending himself altogether. This creates an entirely new type of game, one which I find just as, if not more,...
Published on February 22, 2011 by Len

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars READ SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS.
Look, I love this game. But if you have a MAC and tried the demo, do not buy this CD unless you have a PC with the minimum requirements. I figured that this was an updated CD so it would be PC/MAC compatible. If you have a mac and you want this game, GO TO THE APP STORE! I still like this game, because I have a required PC. Just make sure you go to the actual game's...
Published 12 months ago by Chelsea Brown


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151 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessence of Uniqueness, Not to Mention Scariness, February 22, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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Amnesia provides a much-needed break from today's omnipresent first-person shooters (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.). Not only is Daniel, the unfortunate dude that you as a player get to control, unable to go trigger-happy with an assault rifle, he is incapable of defending himself altogether. This creates an entirely new type of game, one which I find just as, if not more, entertaining.

Amnesia's most redeeming quality is its atmosphere. This is without a doubt the scariest video game I have ever played. A few years ago I bought Doom 3 in hopes of being legitimately scared while gaming. Doom was slightly nerve-racking at times, but I always found myself comforted by the fact that if anything came at me, I could fill it with lead, plasma, or the teeth of a chainsaw. Amnesia provides no such comfort, which is what makes it so fantastic. Another difference is the way in which the game affects you. Doom 3 achieves its scariness via dismembered corpses, splattered viscera and gore, flickering lights, evil laughs, and enemies that spawn right in front of your face. Amnesia has a much more psychological effect, one that fills you with a cold, palpable sense of dread that makes it difficult to reach for the next door handle.

Playing this game in a dark room with earphones and a real desire to be filled with terror and apprehension (as twisted as that may seem) will immerse you in a world unlike any you have experienced. Within the first 15 minutes of playing this, I found myself clenching my teeth in fear, inhaling deeply before entering each new room. Unlike during a horror movie, you are in control, and you must react to the sudden breathing from around the corner, the horrified shrieks of an unnamed woman, or the shadowy menace smashing through your makeshift barricade.

To cut to the chase, I love everything about this game. All of its components, the limited oil for your only lantern, for example, make it one of the most amazing PC games in a while. The product itself is flawless also. It comes in a typical DVD case with a cover, and installed on my computer within minutes without a hitch. If you are in for a highly entertaining scare, I strongly recommend that you purchase this game.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, February 16, 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
A puzzle-horror game, "Amnesia" eschews combat and action in favor of immersive terror-based gameplay.

"Amnesia: The Dark Descent" casts the player as Daniel, who is (appropriately enough) an amnesiac. He's trapped in a dark, abandoned castle, and must navigate it and find his way out. The main gameplay is puzzle-centric, with a few features that make it stand out. The first of these is the use of light: if Daniel is not standing in the light, his sanity meter drains, eventually causing panic and hallucinations. Light can be generated in two ways: either using a tinderbox on a candle or torch, or using your lantern. Both tinderboxes and lamp oil are limited, so the player can't always be in the light.

Adding to this is the presence of monsters of various shapes and types. Unlike some "survival horror" games, there is no way for Daniel to defeat the monsters. Instead, they must be avoided. This is most commonly done by hiding in the shadows - but the above problem presents itself, forcing the player to choose between their safety and their sanity. This adds to a sense of actually being hunted - monsters aren't just there to be easily outsmarted or defeated, they're plausible threats that the player has to deal with.

The puzzles aren't anything special - they're just sort of an obstacle. They're probably the least-notable part of the game. The whole "light and dark" thing gets a lot more attention; puzzles are just a way to occasionally break up that mechanic. One neat thing about the game is that your character "interacts" with objects: he picks them up (with ghostly invisible hands) and can throw them, rotate them, and so on. Doors aren't just slammed open, the player's invisible hand grips the doorknob and pushes or pulls on it. While this is kind of a neat touch, the fact that "Daniel" doesn't actually have a model makes it kind of weird - you can't see your body, so it's just sort of floating in front of you.

Overall, "Amnesia: The Dark Descent" wasn't perfect, but it had some neat ideas. It's atmospheric and it does a lot with illumination, which is something that a lot of games don't care much about. Other than its main mechanic it's kind of simplistic, and might not hold the player's attention if they get bored of "stay out of darkness except when monsters are around", but if you can deal with that then it's pretty good.

Rating: 8/10.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the scariest games ever made., February 21, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Positives:
+ Great sound design that will make your hair stand on edge
+ Excellent "insanity" mechanic that forces you to play the game afraid to succeed
+ Value easily supersedes its $20 price tag

Negatives:
- Dated visuals
- A little short

One thing is for sure: The folks at Frictional Games sure do know how to scare you.

The small-staffed indie developer had already flexed its survival-horror muscles with the Penumbra trilogy spanning 2007-2008. So when they said that Amnesia: The Dark Descent would be scary, many were inclined to believe them. It's doubtful that many knew it would be this scary. Here is a game that legitimately requires courage to complete.

From the onset, the game explains that it is not meant to be "played to win," but rather played to be immersed in its atmosphere. Don't worry, as truly there is no way to avoid being immersed regardless of the approach taken. The game also suggests that it be played in a dark room with headphones rather than separate speakers to aid in the immersion. I didn't have the guts to play it that way, and even after having finished the play-through and knowing what to expect from it, I still wouldn't do it.

The game begins in a castle and, as expected, with the protagonist stricken with amnesia. The narrative kicks off with a letter found close by that was written by the main character prior to becoming amnesiac, identifying him as Daniel. One line sticks out immediately: "I choose to forget." Questions are bound to result: So Daniel gave himself amnesia somehow? How would he have done that? What was so horrible that he voluntarily wiped his memory clean to forget it? These questions and more will beg to be answered throughout the entirety of the game. To provide any more specific explanation of the plot-line would spoil the experience, but trust that while this approach to a prologue may seem trite at first, it is fleshed out wonderfully, and ultimately integral to the narrative.

The remainder of the storyline is explained through texts found throughout the game world in the form of diary entries from Daniel himself, as well as historical logs that serve to fill out the back-story, similar to the method of narrative delivery found in the original survival-horror title, Alone in the Dark. The placement of some of these excerpts will seem nonsensical at times, but they do well to keep the forward momentum of the game intact. There will be moments where you may ask yourself, "Why am I here? Why am I going this way?" Thankfully, most of these questions are answered quickly, with just the right amount of curiosity looming. The ongoing narrative of the game is assuredly interesting, and is seemingly held to a higher-standard of storytelling that was more commonplace in the heyday of adventure games rather than the "action-makes-up-for-story" approach often found in popular games today.

However, none of this explains just what makes the game so frightening. While the story is compelling, the gameplay itself is what makes Amnesia: The Dark Descent such a unique experience. Where most games give the protagonist some sort of unnatural strength and courage to blindly traverse into the darkest caverns and find a way to participate in some form of hand-to-hand combat with its inhabitants, our main character Daniel is utterly human. He is scared of the dark, scared of the creatures in the castle, and completely defenseless. This leads to another way the game inspires fear: To succeed, the player must play the game as if afraid. There is no success to be found in throwing caution to the wind.

Light, or the lack thereof, plays an important part in the flow of the game. If Daniel is in the dark, he will gradually lose his mind. This is evidenced through visual cues such as the field of vision slowly morphing and moving, blurring, colors bleeding into others, and occasionally imaginary(?) bugs crawling across the screen. There are also audio events that are potentially even more disorienting. Even while "sane," there are screams, moans, and footsteps peppered throughout the game that are specific to each area, garnering a consistent uneasiness. But if Daniel is scared, this will be accompanied by a very eerie scratching noise that will be all-too-easily recalled well after the game is over. These "fear" evidences are also triggered by frightening experiences Daniel may have, such as supernatural occurrences, or simply seeing one of the inhabitants of the castle.

To explain the nature or origin of the creatures roaming the castle would be too much of a spoiler. Suffice it to say that when you're scared while playing this game, these creatures are what you are scared of. There is no defense against these enemies, so when they show up, Daniel has no choice but to run and hide or die. This can lead to a chain reaction of frightening events. One of these creatures could be unexpectedly seen when turning a corner. The sight of them instills fear in Daniel, triggering the appropriate visual and audio cues, while you as the player attempt to collect your own wits and run, looking for a place to hide. You then run into the nearest room, slam the door shut, and find a dark corner to hide in. Now there is another problem, as Daniel is in the dark, continuing his descent into insanity. You face the corner to avoid seeing the creature and hope to preserve some of Daniel's sanity, but behind you, it can be heard entering the room and slowly looking around. All that is left to do is hope that it leaves. But at some point, the decision has to be made to turn around and see if it is still there, and then peek around the door to check outside again. You may find that simply following through with this decision is easier said than done.

This brings to light another game mechanic that deepens the experience: the physics. There is no single-click command to open drawers or wardrobes looking for items and clues, or even to open doors to explore new rooms. Instead, these items need to be dragged open while clicking and holding the mouse button, and they will move as quickly as the mouse is moved. This may sound minor, and at first, it feels like simply a nice add-on detail. However, when you're being chased and you slam the door behind you, returning to slowly crack open the door to peek out, that's when the importance of this mechanic truly sinks in.

One of the only major detractors from this game is the visual quality. There is an overall dated look to the character models, textures, and lighting. Though, as a small-budget, small-workforce development, this is ultimately forgivable. The quality of the audio and the visual events triggered by the fear mechanic will overshadow most of the basic graphical inadequacies.

The length of this game is quite the variable. Some have stated that there is little more than six hours of gameplay, while others have logged more than ten hours on a single play-through. This is the result of varying approaches to the game, as well as varying successes with the puzzles therein. Regardless, at $20, there is plenty of gameplay in this title, and it ends at just the right time. Monotony is not given a chance to develop, while there is relief that the experience is complete.

If you are a fan of horror games, or if you are curious as to whether or not a game can scare you at all, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a must-play. While the visuals are dated and the game is on the short side, it is well worth the $20 to experience the best haunted house you've visited to date. I've heard skeptics in the past say that there is no way a video game can be truly frightening, but I defy any one of those people to play through this game and make that same statement. Indie developer Frictional Games has definitely shown the big boys how to make a scary game.

Score: 9/10

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undoubtedly The Best Survival Horror Game Since Silent Hill 3, April 21, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The modernization of survival Horror has turned it into a tarnished shell of it's former self, take Silent Hill: Homecoming or Resident Evil 5 for example, these modernized "survival horror" games are oversimplifications of their predecessors that offer little more than cheap "boo scares" and an emphasis on action to appeal to the wider audience. True survival horror games shouldn't have rocket launchers or miniguns because in making the protagonist a fully armored bad a** who can mow down anything that stands in his or her way, the term "survival" becomes irrelevant, as there is no need to try to avoid encounters with enemies when blowing their brains out is much more effective, unless were talking about the creatures you fight, who's chance of surviving an encounter with Chris Redfield or Alex Shepherd are slim to none. To make matters worse, this is the direction just about every new and rebooted horror franchise strives for, since most casual gamers don't have the patience to play a game that is deliberately paced and action deprived, because that would be boring and wouldn't generate a profit. One of the few developers that stray from this path are Frictional Games, the creators of the Penumbra series which was a flawed, but generally excellent series of horror games. With Penumbra, Frictional games managed to make a captivating and unique take on horror without any regard for the past decade or so of the genre, seeing how it wasn't inspired by any of the Silent Hill's or Resident Evil's, instead, it takes more influence from graphic adventure games like Dark Fall, Zork: Nemesis or Myst, but, like I said before, it was a bit rough around the edges. With a few more years of experience, a brand new engine, and slightly better funding comes Amnesia The Dark Descent.

In Amnesia, you play as a man named Daniel, who wakes up in a dilapidated Prussian castle with very little of his memory intact, all he can remember is his name, hometown and that a shadow is following him. As he struggles to make sense of things, he notices a trail of pinkish blots on the floor that lead him to a letter from Daniel to himself, in the letter, he tells himself that the amnesia he's experiencing was self inflicted and orders you to kill Alexander of Brenenberg.

Frictional aims to keep you immersed in the game at all times, so there are no cut scenes and very little interaction between characters, instead, the story is told through letters, documents and flashbacks. And from these you'll learn about the castle's history, Daniel's twisted past and exactly why he wants Alexander dead. The "main character with Amnesia" set up, is a very cheap, generic and overused story telling device that you've seen in countless other games and movies like LOST: Via Domus or the Alone In The Dark reboot. But the story was so perfectly paced and expertly told, that for the first time, I honestly did not mind the generic plot set up, since the story wouldn't have worked any other way. It is a very morbid and tragic Lovecraft inspired tale that explores peoples' selfishness and depravity, and it kept me invested all the way through to the end, which brings me to my first complaint, the final scene. I won't spoil anything, but it was very anticlimactic, and fell short of the rather high standards that were set by everything that preceded it.

In an attempt to add to the game's replay ability, there are 3 different endings, they consist of the usual Good, Bad, and Neutral outcomes. The decisions you'll make during the last few moments determine which ending you'll get, but regardless of what you choose, all of the endings are basically the same with only a few varying bits of dialogue.

While the game's graphics could be considered "dated" to some, I think they're phenomenal, especially when considering the fact that this is an independent game made with a very low budget. Even with the substandard textures and animations, this is probably the best looking indie game I've seen so far. That being said, the minimum requirements are relatively low, so you won't need a high end computer to be able to run Amnesia. I played it on a regular, HP laptop from 2009 and it ran perfectly on medium settings with slight lag on the highest settings.

With the exception of two or three of the flashbacks, the game takes place primarily in the Brenenberg castle, that's fine with me because the castle's overall design is brilliant. There's a good variation in environments, like dungeons, living quarters, and torture rooms.

My only gripe in this respect is the lack of colour variation, just about everything is either; a dull brown or dark blue with a small amount of greys and reds scattered around.

The overall sound design is amazing, especially the music. Composed by Mikko Tarmia, Amnesia's soundtrack augments the already amazing atmosphere with a perfect combination of unnerving and emotionally draining ambient soundscapes and tense screeching accompanied by a hectic burst of drumbeats during the scarier portions of the game. Never in any game that I've played before has the soundtrack had such a profound impact on my experience as it did here.

All of the sound effects are just as noteworthy as the music, because of the low budget, Frictional did most of the effects with vocal chords and household items, and the results are astounding. I could never imagine that one of the most terrifying creatures in videogame history was in reality just an old watering can being filled up. I can not stress enough just how amazing the sound effects are.

Amnesia has a really impressive physics system that allows you to pick up and move around any object within reasonable size and weight. You can throw a book or a chair, for example, but Daniel is too weak to pick up things like tables. This is useful for blocking a door with a barrel, throwing objects at incoming monsters, turning valves and opening doors. To turn valves, you need to click on it, hold, then turn the mouse in a circular motion, and to open doors, simply click and pull the mouse back.

.

Penumbra Overture allowed players to use this feature to make tools like pickaxes be used as weapons, though that was not their intended use. As great as that may sound, it didn't work as well as it should've. The combat was clunky and unresponsive, and the best way to kill an enemy was to stand on a crate where it cant reach you, then hit it every time it hopelessly attempts to jump high enough to hurt you. This, of course, was exploited by most people who discovered it, including myself. As a result, the intended sense of dread an encounter with an enemy originally had was completely destroyed. Frictional addressed the problem in the sequel, Black Plague by doing away with combat and instead focusing on puzzle solving with occasional stealth.

Amnesia further improves upon this by providing a perfect balance between puzzle solving, exploration, and stealth. And like Black Plague, the player is completely deprived of weapons or any methods of self defence. Well, except fear. Fear is the most effective method of giving an individual the necessary incentive and will power to struggle for survival. Whenever I heard even the slightest rustling or faint groan in the background, paranoia began to set in unlike anything I've ever experienced in a game before. I would immediately pause the game and run to the kitchen or the restroom, constantly telling myself that I was just overreacting, there was nothing there and that I'll be back on as soon as I grab something to eat. Often times, I never ran into anything, perhaps because the monster never noticed me or maybe I was imagining things and it wasn't even there at all. On a few occasions, just as I was beginning to regain confidence, a monster would appear directly in front of me as I opened a door or turned a corner. During moments like these, all rational thought goes completely out the window. Sometimes I'd try to outrun the monster with my eyes sealed shut, other times I'd throw rocks at it, in a hopeless attempt to slow it down in time for my basic thought processes to return. More often I'd pause the game for upwards to 30 minutes, and in some cases, I just it turned off and didn't return for a few days.

To make these encounters as terrifying as they are, Frictional added a unique twist to the game's stealth mechanics and a sanity meter very similar to Bethesda's Call Of Cthulu game. When you come across an enemy, your only hope for survival is to either outrun it, or hide in a dark corner until it leaves, because they have a harder time finding you when you're obscured by the darkness. The problem is, darkness has an aversive effect on Daniel, whether this is caused by the shadow following him or he's afraid of the dark, I'm not entirely sure, but keeping him there for more than a few seconds, or even looking at the monster will case his sanity to drop. When this happens, Daniel's vision begins to blur and he will breath heavily. If nothing is done to halt the process, he will begin to hallucinate, drag himself across the floor, and eventually faint, that's if the monster didn't already hear your heavy breathing and kill you first. The thing is, there isn't much you can do to halt the process except turning on your lantern for a while or silently moving to another, better lit area. But again, doing so will probably get you unwanted attention.

Furthermore, your light sources are very limited and Daniel's health does not regenerate, so scavenging around the castle for lantern oil, tinderboxes and health potions is imperative to your survival. Even if you do comb every inch of the castle like I did, you'll often find yourself completely out of lantern oil, running from candle to candle, lighting them as you go in hope finding just enough oil to continue the game normally.

Despite being extremely stressful, death will never become frustrating, thanks to the excellent save system. When you die, you respawn close to where you were killed, and all of your progress and items you collected before dying will remain the same, and the monster moves to a completely different area. Not only does this do away with tedious backtracking, but it also increases the tension, since you will no longer know where to expect the monster to be.

Like Penumbra, Amnesia is a point and click adventure game through and through. Though, not in the traditional sense, because the established, static point and click interface is archaic and the slow pace of such games is unfavorable to most gamers these days. Amnesia definitely has deliberate pacing, but it has more modern gameplay mechanics that are in turn very accessible for anyone, of any genre preference to just pick up and play. For example, instead of clicking in the direction you want to go to move the character, movement is done with the WASD keys, like a first person shooter. And typical actions such as item gathering and puzzle solving are done with the previously mentioned physics system.

Unfortunately, the accessibility takes it's toll on the puzzle solving. I knew from the start that I shouldn't expect the same kind of ridiculously difficult logic based puzzles found in Myst or Voyage, but I was disappointed by their simplicity regardless. For starters, I like how none of the puzzles ever stray from realism, that means; no redirecting laser beams or putting pictures together to start an elevator. In Amnesia, starting an elevator requires you to fill the engine with coal, adjust the gears, and flip the switches. It never gets any more challenging than that, in fact, the hardest part of the puzzles is not solving them, but finding all of the right components you need to solve them. I really would've liked something a bit more mentally straining in this aspect, or at least a separate puzzle difficulty setting option would have been nice. Even so, the puzzles were a good change of pace and occasionally really enjoyable.

In the main menu, there's an option called "Custom Story", here players can load community developed stories and mods made with Frictional's HPL2 engine, which was released to the public shortly after the game`s release. I haven't played much of these mods, and I haven't dabbled with tools either. However, the few custom stories I found noteworthy enough to play have been really good. As of this writing, there aren't very many mods to choose from, but I see a lot of great potential for those that have the know how for these kinds of things to make some amazing experiences in the future.

VERDICT

For the last few years, I considered Siren to be the scariest game ever made, but Amnesia undoubtedly takes the crown. Not only for it's brilliant take on horror, but also for it's mature, unsettling, and engrossing story. This is TRUE survival horror, unparalleled by anything I've played since Silent Hill 3.

It's disturbing to think that a mediocre, 6 hour long game like Resident Evil 5, priced at $60 sold over 4 million copies. While this $20, 11 hour long masterpiece just recently reached 200,000 copies sold. Granted, 200,000 is amazing for an independent game and not quite as many people own a good enough PC than an xbox 360, but those who do owe it to themselves to experience this breathtaking game, even if it means suffering through sleep deprivation and paranoia.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scariest game you will EVER play!, March 6, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I found out about this game through a review in PC Gamer magazine. I'll be the first to admit that I was skeptical about the mechanics (no weapons? what!?) but they are the key to the terror of this game. In any other scary game, you can just whip out a plasma cannon to destroy the things that scare you. In this game, all you can do is cower in fear and hide. This key mechanic, whereby you are rewarded for hiding raises the fear levels unlike anything I have ever played. When you round a corner in some dank, dark castle sub-floor and hear an inhuman growl, I guarantee you will soil your pants. The game itself oozes atmosphere, and it even encourages you to play in the dark with headphones on. This game is absolute ART that will TERRIFY you. I tell people all the time, "Amnesia makes Dead Space feel like a walk through a sunny, butterfly-filled meadow." There were literally moments where I had to step away from it to gather myself, it is THAT SCARY. Do yourself a favor and GET THIS GAME!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You won't forget Amnesia, February 15, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I purchased this from Steam before it was available on Amazon so there may be minor differences.
This game is very scary without the use of cheap shock or startlement.
You play the character of Danial, waking in a dark castle with little memory. As you explore you will come across clues to your identity and history. Occasionally creatures/ghosts will attack you,
time to run! There are some puzzles but none are frustrating. Tension is always building and you will probably be squirming in your seat as you play.
This game is brought to you by "Frictional Games" and "Paradox International"; the makers of the "Penumbra" series. Game physics are similar. That is, first person perspective and you will be interacting with the environment in an extended way; pushing or pulling doors, drawers and other objects by moving your mouse rather than just clicking on them. I think this actually enhances the gameplay. if you liked Penumbra you will probably like this more. For maximum enjoyment it is important to play the game the way the developers intended, that is, dark settings on your video and a dim room.

Overall:
Graphics are good and lend themselves to the atmosphere but they won't blow you away 7/10
Sound is excellent and very creepy. 9/10
voice acting is quite satisfactory. 8/10
Interaction via keyboard and mouse is a little clunky, but again, it enhances gameplay.6/10
The story line is acceptable and certainly gruesome enough. 8/10
A few minor bugs that won't affect the game. 9/10
Recommended for any thinking gamer who likes a good scare. 9/10
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, and scariest horror games ever created., March 24, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I just beat Amnesia -The Dark Descent- last night and I am so glad I don't have to play it anymore. Not because the game sucked, or it was tedious, but because it was so flipping scary. This game was developed by Frictional Games, the makers of the awesome Penumbra Collection, a game I am in love with (read my review of it). When I heard about Amnesia being developed by the same team I was excited, and didn't read much about it because I didn't want anything spoiled. I just read enough to learn that most people that played it said it is very scary. They weren't kidding. God they weren't kidding. Well let's get to the review proper and before I get started, if you've played Penumbra and enjoyed it, pick up Amnesia right now, it is a spiritual succesor to that game, and both share the same mechanics. If you need more convicing, then read on my friend.

Graphics, sound: The game was created by a five person team, so you can't expect big budget graphics. However, the graphics are fantastic. The castle the game takes place in is very, very moody thanks to excellent use of lighting and darkness. You'll breath a sigh of relief when you enter a well lit area, and cringe when you open a door to see pitch black darkness in the room ahead. The levels are well designed, with plenty of stair cases, rooms that looked like they have been ransacked, and other nasty things I don't want to ruin for you. Take my word for it, the graphics do a great job of putting you in a creepy environment. As good as the graphics are, it's the sound that makes it all come alive. There is some good music in the game, most if it ambient, though this one area had a peaceful track playing that was relaxing, but that didn't last long. Also the music that plays when a monster is in the area looking for you, is very scary. You'll hear all kinds of stuff. Roars, groans, moans, footsteps, screams, voices, and it's all mixed together brilliantly to make you uncomfortable. I can't recall a time when it was just silent. There are always sounds playing. Another thing I liked is you can hear your character getting scared. He'll start breathing hard, and even whimper a bit. Also the voice acting is very well done.

Story: You are Daniel. You have awoken in a room in a Prussian castle in 1839. You have no recollection of who you are, or why you are here. You find a note written by yourself, to yourself. When you read it you find out that your Amnesia is self inflicted, and you have a task to do. You must kill a man called Alexander. I won't tell you anymore, but the story is very interesting and told through notes and diary pages you find, as well as flashbacks that you won't see, but hear when you go into certain areas. You'll find out who you are, why you are at the castle, why you are supposed to kill this man, and why you are being followed by an evil force. The further you get into the game, the more disturbing the story becomes. Very
Lovecraftian.

Controls: I'm not going to talk about the controls much except to say they are spot on, and easy to use. Which is good because there are times when you are running from a beastie, and you need the controls to be accurate to open and shut doors. What I mean is you don't just simply click on a door, and have it open, you have to open doors like you do in the real world. You click and hold the mouse button, and pull or push the door. Same thing with drawers and other objects you open and close. If there is a valve you have to turn, you have to grab hold of it, and swing your mouse in a circular motion. It may not sound like much, but having to interact with items like you would in real life really ups the immersion factor.

Gameplay: The game is played from a first person perspective, like an FPS. You walk, run, crouch, and can lean left and right.The game consists of you exploring the castle, solving puzzles, collecting items and notes, figuring out what the heck is going on, and running and hiding from monsters. It is all about atmospehere, not spectacle. The levels aren't huge, but are big enough to scratch that exploration itch. I've always liked adventure games where you can search through drawers and chests, and you do a lot of that. You can pick up and toss most items thanks to the physics engine in place, and any items that go into your inventory have a blue higlight over them when you get near them so they're easy to spot. Even though the game contols like an FPS, it is not an action game, and you have no weapons. You see, you have nothing at all to fight the monsters you run into. Even picking up a barrel and throwing it at a beast won't stun it. The only thing you can do is run and hide. This does a great job of making you feel helpless, because you are. Gunning down a dozen monsters in Doom 3, or Dead Space is fun, and intense. Seeing a shambling shape in the darkness ahead of you, than seeing it charge at you while the music cranks up, and you turn and run into a room and hide, is 100 times more intense. Trust me.

The puzzles you solve have been called easy by most people. Its not that they are easy, they just make sense and use real world logic. If a glass case has an item you need, you don't have to find various objects to craft a key as in other adventure games, simply pick up an object, and smash the glass to get it. If you are stuck on a puzzle, don't try to figure it out with video game logic, think about what you would do with real world logic. Chances are, you'll figure out the solution. There are various items you'll pick up to combine with other items, and to sovle puzzles with. Fortunately you never have a lot of items at one time, and when you do have to combine them, again, the combinations make sense.

The game has a cool use of light and dark. Your character has a sanity meter, which I will talk about in a bit. And one of the things that makes him go nuts is being in the dark for too long. Therefore you will want to make sure you can light an area, and there are two ways to do this. Your lantern which you find early in the game, lights up the area directly around you,but burns through oil,so you don't want to use it constantly. You can find more oil to refill the lamp, but not a lot. There were a few times I ran out of oil, and oh boy, that sucks. There are also tinderboxes,which you will always want to keep an eye out for along with the oil. Everywhere you go in the castle there are candles and torches you can light with the tinderboxes. Again, like the oil, you don't want to use them all the time. Staying in the light protects your sanity, but lets monsters see you easily, staying in the dark lets you hide from them, but also reduces your sanity. A strategic balance of when to stay in the dark, and stay in the light, and of when to use your lamp, and tinderboxes sounds frustrating, but it's not, and really adds to the tension of the game.

Lets talk about the sanity feature. This is a mechanic that could have been frustrating, but instead adds to the game. Your character is a little unhinged, what with waking up with amnesia in a creepy castle, and being chased by foul things that want to kill him. Therefore there are certain things that will make Daniel lose his mind. When you are walking in a well lit area, you are fine, but if you go into a room, and there is something nasty in there, he'll start getting scared. If he hears something bad, he starts losing it. Once you start losing your mind, the graphics get all wiggy. They blur, and move around, and when you turn your head, it will turn slow and sway. Daniel will start to breath hard, which if hiding from a monster, will alert them to him. If you are in darkness, you'll eyes will adjust to the dark which will help you see without a light, but Daniel is afraid of the dark, and that will make him go insane if you stay in the dark for too long. Looking directly at a monster will also freak him out. So if you are hiding from one, you should try to look away from it. You can keep your sanity from slipping by lighting up an area, and this will help recover a bit of sanity, but to fully restore it, you have to make progress in the game, like solving a puzzle or finding an important item. This forces you to keep moving forward, even when you don't want to because of what could be around that next corner.

Cons: There a few things that may bug gamers. First off, the game crashed on me three times. This doesn't bother me, but I know some people can't stand it when that happens. The other thing is at times, you can kind of tell when a monster is going to show up. For example, I went into a room, and left the door open behind me. I got into the habit of shutting doors behind me, but I left this one open just in case I needed an escape. Well, an event happened that made Daniel pass out, and when I came to, the door I left open, was closed. Hmmm. And the item I needed was on the table. Sure enough as soon as I picked up the item, a monster started banging on the door. This happened a couple times in the game, so sometimes the monster encounters are scripted. The good side of that is, you never know when one will pop up. You may be looking around some well lit rooms and feel slightly safe, something that doesn't happen often, only to hear the door bang open. You'll duck fast into a closet and frantically close the doors as you hear the monster walking around looking for you. Very intense.

Closing: Within the first ten minutes of the game I was freaked out, and that lasted literally until the credits rolled, eight to ten hours later. After a session, I would go directly to my zen garden in Plants Vs. Zombies Game of the Year to calm down. Also, even a half hour after playing it, I was still shook up. This game can be exhausting, not because its action packed, it's not, but because it is so scary. There are times where the music builds up, and you hear things and you are sure a monster is going to pop up, and it doesn't. In fact, there were long periods where I didn't run into any monsters, but the game makes you think there is something there. It builds up the tension slowly, then when you least expect it, lets something terrifying loose on you, leaving you drained when you get through the situation. Even thinking about some of the stuff that happened gives me chills. Like when I was being chased by, well, I don't know what it was, and had to open doors to get away from it, hearing it behind me getting closer, is more intense than any action game I've ever played. The hardest thing in the game you can do, is proceed. But the easiest thing you can do, is buy this game right now. Buy a physical copy of it, or get it from your favorite digital distributor, like Steam,it is cheap and is just as good, if not better than a lot of the more expensive, big budget games out there. Seriously, this is a true horror game, and this kind of thing doesn't come around very often. If you play this and enjoy it, pick up the Penumbra Collection I mentioned earlier, it has similar mechanics, and is also very scary. Oh also, even though I mentioned Steam, the physical copy of the game does not require it. The only thing you have to do it type in a serial code. Ater that, you don't even need the disc to play. Thanks for reading my review, and if you play the game, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Stay sane.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Descent into Darkness, both Visually and Spiritually..., June 13, 2011
By 
Solid Snake (right behind you) - See all my reviews
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Seriously, whoever approved the box art for this game should be sacked. The person that hired them should be sacked. The person that hired the person that hired the box art approval person...you get the point. I mean, it's kind of odd that a game that has been lauded for its adept obfuscation of the monster (thereby preserving the scare-factor beyond the first encounter) should slap a horrid rendering of said monster right on the front cover....What the hell was the artist thinking? Someone hires you to draw something scary and the best you can do is to rip off The Scream by Van Gogh? I digress...

For those of you that slogged through the rant above, the good news is that the box art is the worst aspect of this game. If you're familiar with Frictional Studios' previous series, Penumbra, then you'll know what to expect from Amnesia. For the uninitiated, get ready for a truly engrossing survival-horror crafted by a developer who has mastered the genre and done much to drag it out of the depths of gaming limbo where it had been stagnating since the first Resident Evil games.

In Amnesia, as the title suggests, you play the role of a protagonist who has lost his memory. You awake in a dark and creepy castle and set about exploring its cold and cavernous chambers, soon discovering a letter from your past self that ominously commands you to kill the castle's owner. Task in hand, you press ever deeper into the keep, typically by solving physics based puzzles such as cranking up an old elevator or draining a flooded passage etc. As in Penumbra, the mundane nature of the tasks is intentional and is meant to contrast the eerie atmosphere and keep the story somewhat grounded in reality; and this is no small feat as the levels get weirder and weirder.

It is in the later levels that the true spirit (and power) of this game becomes clear - you see, part of what makes this game so haunting is how it scares you on level deeper than pure visceral shock. Sure, turning a corner to find a jaw-dangling, howling abomination standing there will make you crap your pants, but any horror game or movie can master that maneuver. What's far more difficult is to shock the player on an emotional level, especially since they know what they're experiencing is just make-believe. Amnesia accomplishes this - the dark descent in the subtitle refers not only to the literal descent into the bowels of the keep, but a metaphorical descent into madness and insanity. You're along for the ride, so to speak, and the latter half of the game takes on a very disturbing and twisted tilt that many people will find genuinely unsettling.

Saying too much would spoil the game, but suffice it to say that this is a well-polished gem in the somewhat bare cupboard of the survival-horror genre. So, turn down the lights, turn up the volume on the headphones, and strap on the adult diapers (optional) and get ready to lose yourself, and your mind, on this dark journey into the depths of evil :P

Highly recommended
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Scary, April 10, 2011
This review is from: Amnesia [Download] (Software Download)
Don't let the dated graphics and terrible cover image fool you. If you are looking for a game with a simple, but ingenious style of exploration that gives you a real sense of survival, Lovecraft-esque madness, and true terror, you are in the right place! And for the price, you simply can't pass this game up!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent game. Keep the lights turned off!, May 18, 2011
By 
Adam (Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Amnesia [Download] (Software Download)
This game is great. It's a horror survival where you wander through an immense castle, searching for clues as to what you need to do to simply not die. The puzzles make you think, but they're not so difficult that you're left with no choice but to search for hints on the web. The entire time you're struggling just to keep your surroundings lit so you're not plunged into eerie darkness, where your character starts to lose his sanity. You do not fight at all in this game, so don't think you're going to jump in guns blazing. Your character needs you to use your wits and figure out how to unravel the mystery of what's happening.

I can't really say much more than that without giving away anything. If you like horror survival games, you'll more than likely love this. Can't complain about the price, either!
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