The Amnesia Collection casually landed on Nintendo Switch today, bring Amnesia: The Dark Descent, its expansion Justine, and the divisive sequel A Machine For Pigs to a Nintendo console for the first time.
As we head towards the end of this decade, I’ve found myself thinking of the great horror games of the past ten years, and one, in particular, feels so important in shaping the horror game landscape as we know it.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent wasn’t the first of its kind, but it popularized first-person psychological horror titles where the protagonist has little to no defense against the evil that stalks them. That popularity was in part, due to YouTube personalities making videos of themselves playing it and getting scared shitless, but it was just as crucial that it felt so fresh, and tapped into the good part of classic horror writing.
Released 9 years ago, Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent is set in 1839, and sees amnesiac protagonist Daniel wandering a poorly-lit castle that holds some disturbing secrets in its walls. Monsters roam the halls, and the very sight of them can drive Daniel mad. As he descends into the castle’s depths, he uncovers his own personal mystery, and encounters unspeakable monstrosities.
Daniel has no weapons to defend himself, so he must flee and hide when he encounters monsters. He does have the ability to block doorways, albeit temporarily as monsters can destroy your makeshift barricades, so finding a good hiding spot becomes priority one in any given encounter. Not only can you be psychically attacked, but a mental turmoil is also a factor the longer you stare at creatures or reside in darkness. So you’re constantly having to weigh up when to leave safety, that may drive you mad because it’s too dark, and creeping past monsters, who will either tip your sanity over the edge or straight up kill you. Your trusty lamp is as good as any weapon in this environment
The feeling of helplessness is a constant one in Amnesia, and it played
a big part in the game’s success. Frictional had visited this before with its Penumbra games, and would revisit again with the more modern SOMA, but it’s The Dark Descent that best captures it. The essence of classic Survival Horror is found in this, closer to what Alone in the Dark was than Resident Evil. The central mystery, as Daniel slowly discovers his missing memories, is engrossing, and suitably dark. It clearly owes a lot to writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, and in turn, it has led to a lot of horror games since embracing that form of cosmic horror in one way or another.
It’s fair to say that without something like Amnesia, we perhaps wouldn’t have had Outlast, Layers of Fear, or even P.T. in the manner they are now. Games like Amnesia, from independent developers, also helped to fuel the horror game resurgence in general when big companies were cooling on the genre.
So if you’ve yet to play it, now is as good a time as any to do so. The Justine expansion is a great addition to the story of the original game, and A Machine For Pigs, which Frictional handed to fellow indie developer The Chinese Room, keeps the essence of what made the first game tick, but has an entirely new voice to it.
The Amnesia Collection is out now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
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Author : Neil Bolt
Publish date : 2019-09-12 13:24:06