I’ve played Amnesia before, so the thoughts and feelings shown here aren’t particularly fresh, despite having played it right now too. The first time you play Amnesia you will probably have the best experience, if being stressed and being scared of what lies beyond the corner is “best” to you. As the game tells you when you first run it, immersion is one of the draws, and facilitating that by playing in a dark room while wearing earphones is a great way to put yourself in Daniel’s place in Brennenburg castle.
If you haven’t heard of Amnesia before, it’s a psychological first person horror game with emphasis on puzzle solving. There is no fighting monsters here, and that’s one of the reasons the game works as well as it does. Frictional’s past games, the Penumbra series, introduced this more direct way of interacting with the environment, allowing you to do stuff like slightly open doors, hiding yourself in closets and peeking out or spin your mouse like crazy trying to open annoying vault doors before finding the exact angle you had to move the mouse to budge it. The process is much more streamlined in Amnesia, feeling a lot more fluid than it used to be, probably a lot because you don’t actually get anything to wield except for the instantly recognizable lamp, allowing the design to warrant all physical interactions only requiring the simple mouse click.
You play as Daniel, an Englishman stranded in the castle Brennenburg with a mission that he totally forgot about because… well… Amnesia. Strange stuff is happening and it’s about to be gone through by you.
The main focus of the game and why it’s been so popular is the excruciating attention to the detail entailing what the player experiences. It’s… dense, to say the least. The atmosphere is dark – so dark that even the little light that comes in through the boarded windows feels cold and uninviting, in extreme opposition to the warmth of the light that you need to preserve your sanity. Sitting in the dark for too long will deplete your sanity, slowly distorting your reality until you go proper crazy. It won’t kill you, but it is rather disturbing. The game’s experience is extremely directed, peppered with disturbing events that keep you on your toes. It’s never too overbearing, but just enough to feel like there’s needles close to poking your eyes. It’s claustrophobic, it’s frightening, it’s proper scary at times.
Just like probably everybody else in the world who’ve played the game, I’ll also warmly recommend it, if only to experience the genius in terms of game design that it is.
It’s on Steam at 15 Euros. Get it.