Video Game: Amnesia
Monday, October 25th, 2010
Sixty-seven hours after finishing “Amnesia: The Dark Descent,” it still feels like a piece of me is broken. Life is just not the same: I sleep with the lights on, I never go out, and I usually wake up covered in sweat at 4:00 a.m. I’m slowly starting to resemble Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.”
“Amnesia” is the new baby from the twisted minds at Frictional Games, an indie developing studio already famous for the horror series “Penumbra.” Strongly inspired by the Cimmerian stories of H.P Lovecraft, “Amnesia” is a first-person adventure game where the story unfolds through a combination of exploring, enigma solving, and more importantly, surviving. You are Daniel, an amnesic who wakes up alone inside the gloomy walls of Brennenburg Castle in England. You quickly remember two things: you came here to discover your past and someone or something is after you. Voices, bloodstains and horrific visions set the mood as the game begins.
The aim of the game is not to scare by unnecessary gory details or scripted actions but by creating a “psychological horror” as it tries to blur the line between character and player. To do so, the developers conceived original means. First, every action has to be mimed with the player’s mouse. Add fear or the need to save your life to that and you’ll understand how the immersion slowly gets to you. Fear is perfectly recreated in the game. Your character has a mental sanity bar which erodes when witnessing supernatural events (monsters, apparitions) or by simply staying in the dark. Stay too long in the light and become noticeable, hide for too long and become crazy.
Poor sanity means a blurry vision, less agile movements or sudden horrific sounds. The more your character is scared, the scarier the game gets. There are no weapons to fight back, and limited lighting (a couple matches to light torches and a fuel limited lamp oil). All these phobias make this game one of the scariest experience I’ve ever had — a descent into a world you wish you never entered.
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