Review - Amnesia: The Dark Descent

November 10, 2010

Last week I finished playing through Amnesia: The Dark Descent and figured I would give a review of the game. This was the first survival horror game I had ever played, so I was very eager to start playing.

Amnesia is a first-person survival horror game developed by Frictional Games, the creators of the Penumbra series. When starting the game, the developers suggest playing in a dark room with headphones which will allow you to immerse yourself into the game. The game feeds off your fear of the unknown. After playing for about 10 minutes I turned the lights back on. 'Nuff said.

The setting is in the dark and gloomy Castle Brennenburg. You awake as Daniel, a man who has lost nearly all memory of the past. As you embark on a treacherous journey through the castle, you come across Daniel's journal entries which develop the storyline. Traversing down through the dreary castle also triggers vivid memories of past events. The more Daniel descends, the darker he gets.

Navigating through the pitch-black corridors relies on you using an oil-powered lamp or using tinderboxes to ignite torches or candles. As you might assume, lamp oil and tinderboxes are limited so use them wisely.

A key mechanic in Amnesia is that you are defenseless. The only way that you can survive an encounter with a monster is to run or hide. Don't stay in the dark too long as you will slowly start to lose your sanity. Other factors that impact your sanity are unsettling events and encounters with monsters.

Conclusion

Overall, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a phenomenal game. The work and attention to detail that Frictional Games put into this game is stellar. I highly recommend this game even if you are not into the survival horror genre. At only $20, this game is an absolute steal. The game is available via Frictional Games' store, Steam, Direct2Drive, and other popular online retailers.

The Good

  • Realistic and eerie ambient sounds really immerse you in the game
  • Environment is visually stunning
  • Does a good job at manipulating your senses and triggering fear of the unknown

The Bad

  • The ending is mediocre and leaves certain questions unanswered
  • Lamp oil and tinder boxes are sparse making it difficult during certain parts of the game
  • Some puzzles in the game are not as intuitive as others

Here's a video of some gameplay:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEHPwAvrc_U