Review: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs” developers=”The Chinese Room” publishers=”Frictional Games” platforms=”PC/MAC” genres=”” release_date=”Out Now” version_played=”PC”]

Are you ready to tread into the dark of the machine, save your loved ones, and recover what you have lost? steel yourself, because the shadows are insane, unkind, and not to be trifled with.

Disclaimer: I have no previous experience with the Amnesia Franchise, so this review will be from the point of view of someone who’s first Amnesia game is A Machine for Pigs.

Your memories are gone. Your people are gone. Your sanity is gone. Your very own identity is unknown to you. You start as a blank canvas and you are looking for answers to understand what you are.

The premise of the game is simple and straight forward. You wake to an empty and dark room, still drowsy and dizzy, unknown to your surroundings or situation. As you go on, children call, their voices telling you to follow. Without any other leads, you continue while looking for clues as to who you are and what you do, found in pieces of your own diary, hallucinations and audio recordings left throughout the places you venture to.

The places where you tread are all within the confines of what appears to be your own property, which include a mansion, factories and other places within the underground of England.

Just what sort of weird machinations were built by these hands? The sense of suspense and tense atmosphere will keep you with your nerves on edge, all the while being careful as to not alarm the darkness that lies within.

Easily the strongest part about the game. Even if the game were a simple exploration game, with just the music, sound design and the setting, the pressure these apply to your mind is enough for you to scare yourself, either by mere paranoia or subconscious perception.

It’s recommended to play the game with the recommended gamma levels, and it makes sense. A lot of the tension in Amnesia comes from the darkness. In some cases, your portable light is the only light source you will have, making it all the more horrific; realizing that you are the only light source within the vast emptiness that lies ahead of you, making you all the more noticeable to whatever menace may be lurking in the way.

The sound design is fantastic, and I have to say, some instances really reminded me of Silent Hill, where often times, industrial, gritty and spooky sounds would be your only company when traveling through the devilish town, the same happened in amnesia, where you would be cautiously walking through a corridor, when you make a turn and you’re suddenly greeted by a change in the sounds, making you jump off your seat if you’re faint of heart.

Most places you will be visiting have an old English look, with Victorian style decor, worn, grungy industrial zones and the like. It may not sound so menacing or spooky at first, but then you have to remember how dark everything is, and how you will always be accompanied by eerie, mysterious sounds and music. Don’t get too nervous though, because you have to move on ahead, lest you leave your children and sanity behind.

Strangely enough, the gameplay is very simple. I was expecting the game to be much harsher, considering that a lot of horror games out there are pretty difficult, I’ve somehow been biased to expect this out of all horror games now. To describe the game in simple words, I’d have to say that it’s an “exploration and puzzle game”. Considering you play a character without a clue to his own identity, you are rewarded for thoroughly exploring and scanning the places that you venture to, in the hopes of finding clues that may aid you in filling in the gaps that are missing from your memories.

You will often find loose notes from your character’s diary/journal lying around randomly in the places that you explore, just like in Slender, but these actually have a purpose of telling you who you where and what you did. Each note you find gives you a clue as to your character’s personality and what led him to create “the machine”. You will also find phonographs with old speech recordings, made sometimes by the main character on his own, or having conversations with other people. These also help in providing clues as to who we once were.

Exploration is one of the most important aspects of the game. Getting from place to place, will often time require you to fulfill a certain task or “puzzle”; for instance, looking for a key item to complete certain actions that will enable you to get from one place to the other. Many times you will find locked paths that require some tinkering before being unlocked, so keeping your eyes open for any sort of useful items will speed up your process. Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to spot what you need to continue, as when you hover your cursor above something that may be of use, a “hand” will appear on it, meaning that it can be picked up and carried, or be collected, making the process easier and less of a brain challenge.

Early on in the game, you will acquire a lamp to help you illuminate your path. Having a light to know where you are is very important, and in many instances, you will find yourself depending solely on your lamp to get through some places. Knowing how and when to use that light is essential as well. There are hostile elements in this game that will be more susceptible to attacking you if you are carelessly shinning your light everywhere you go; you must exercise caution and use your lamp sparingly in these situations. Having quick glimpses with the lamp, and memorizing what you have just seen can sometimes be very helpful if you’re trying to shake of an enemy by making a quick dash to get away to safety. Make sure you haven’t run to dead ends though.

A Machine for Pigs is a very smart game, it plays on your own fears and paranoia in order for you to scare yourself. I found the experience to be quite terrifying even when no hostilities were in sight. Often times it was just me and my brain getting scared just because the mood of the game was so tense in that situation. The intentional spooks aren’t in your face, but when they are, they really get you.

Horror games are special in a way that not all people react to them the same, but personally, I did almost shit my pants in some cases, and like I said, even when the scares were just a product of my paranoia, they were only possible because of the game’s carefully crafted ambience. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a fantastic and moody horror experience.


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