Title: Amnesia Collection
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
Available On: Playstation 4
Publisher: Frictional Games
Genre: Survival Horror
Official Site: www.amnesiagame.com
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Where To Buy: Steam, Playstation Store
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
— H.P. Lovecraft
Before you jump into the Amnesia Collection, the developers offer a few in-game tips to prepare you for the experience. They explain that the game is more about the immersion and story than winning, that you are vulnerable and should not try to fight the enemies you encounter and that you should wear headphones and play in a dark room. But, they forget one very important thing that can save you some time and clean up – wear a diaper.
The Amnesia Collection has come to Playstation 4 and it will scare the crap out of you. As a fan of horror, I am often disappointed by movies and games claiming to be scary, that turn out to be a collection of cheap jump scares or an action piece set with monsters. Amnesia Collection does not disappoint. Through the constant buildup of anticipation and tension, Amnesia will have you on edge the entire time.
The Amnesia Collection contains three different experiences – Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the first game in the series, Justine, a short expansion for The Dark Descent and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, an indirect sequel. Justine is very short, clocking in at around a half an hour, but the other two are full games that run around 5-6 hours each.
Each of the games shares many things in common. You wake up in a strange house, with little idea of what’s going on. Through finding notes and diary entries, you begin to understand who your character is and what you’ve gotten yourself into. These notes combine with memory flashbacks and occasional dialogue with others to compile the story piece by piece.
Everything is well written and the games have a very literary feel. Both games take place in the early (TDD) to late (AMFP) 19th century. While The Dark Descent feels a bit like reading an Edgar Allen Poe story by candlelight, A Machine for Pigs is closer to a Lovecraftian tale and introduces steam technology and electricity. You are driven to find every piece of writing in each and find out as much as you can, discovering in some entries revelations that make everything click together. Although there are some plot holes to be found and things that never get explained.
The gameplay in The Dark Descent and Justine involves you having nothing but an oil lamp and some tinderboxes to light candles. You have an inventory that you fill with objects to help you solve environmental puzzles. The puzzles, while never too difficult, have enough complexity in them to make you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you solve one. They’re fun and never feel like a hindrance or a chore.
If your lamp runs out of oil and you find yourself in darkness, you begin to lose sanity. It doesn’t quite go to the lengths that a game like Eternal Darkness did, but the effects are noticeable. Your vision begins to pulsate and you start hearing strange sounds. If you stay there long enough, you eventually pass out and can’t really move for a few seconds. Why is this a big deal? Did I mention the hideous monster that looks like a collaboration between Guillermo Del Toro and Francisco Goya? No? Oh. Well, there is one of the hideous monsters I’ve ever seen and it follows you around appearing at random times throughout the game. And when you see it, you should probably hide because it will murder you. There are no weapons to fight back with. Stealth is your only option.
This is what sets up one of the scariest gaming experiences of all time. The atmosphere that the constant, but an unpredictable threat of the monster creates can almost make you snap with tension. And this is where the most important aspect of the game really shines – the sound.
The sound. Mmph. It’s so good. It’s what allows the game to be as terrifying as it is. Subtle creaking. Shuffling footsteps. The low wailing and moaning of an approaching presence. A disembodied growl. Laughter. A man pleading for help that you can only hear if you really, really listen. Or maybe it’s just your imagination. Maybe your brain is forming the ambient sound into things that aren’t there. Did you just hear something outside of the headphones? But nobody’s home. You must just be imagining it.
This is combined with hauntingly symphonic music that brings it all together. I really can’t say enough about the sound. This is why the Amnesia Collection must be played with headphones to get the full effect (luckily the Playstation 4 allows you to use any headphones just lying around the house).
A Machine for Pigs switches things up a bit gameplay wise. There is no more insanity gauge. Your lamp is electric, so you don’t need to worry about oil anymore (thank god). It does away with an inventory completely and the only things you collect are notes. Environmental puzzles, which are much easier, are solved by picking up and carrying things to where you need them. All of these omissions strip down the gameplay further and put the focus even more on the story. As the player, you feel a little less involved and therefore less invested which can reduce the terror.
Since it’s an indirect sequel, the old characters are gone (but not forgotten) and you are thrown into something completely different. Sadly, this means the old monster is gone as well.
A Machine for Pigs struggles to replicate the sheer horror of The Dark Descent. Maybe it’s the replacement of the old monster. Maybe it’s the electricity, although when electric lights start flickering you feel even more helpless than with candles. But with a brighter environment, the oppression of the darkness is lifted and your chest doesn’t feel as much like it’s in a vice grip. Either way, it definitely falls short of its predecessor, but it is still a great experience. The story is still strong in its creepy factor. The sound is still amazing. Overall, it doesn’t feel like just a rehash of the first game. It is something different and still enjoyable.
The graphics in either game won’t blow anyone away. They, as you might guess, improve for A Machine for Pigs, but they are never amazing. Sometimes a monster that is a bit fuzzy and unclear is way creepier than one rendered in perfect 1080p. You don’t come to this game for the graphics. I never once lost immersion because of a pixelated door.
Everything is presented beautifully. The opening developer tips set up the experience well. The loading screens offer tasty little morsels of story – no more than a few sentences – that don’t begin to make sense until later, but they add a great bit of mystery. It all makes you feel like you have found yourself inside a 19th century British novel and it never breaks character.
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about the Amnesia Collection. It brings a highly praised indie horror game to the Playstation 4 and it doesn’t disappoint. For people such as myself who have been mainly console gamers their whole lives, experiences like this don’t come around very often, so when they do, it’s a huge treat. If you like horror and want to get genuinely scared by a video game, you absolutely must pick up the Amnesia Collection. Just make sure you’re fully prepared.
Gameplay: Simple Gameplay, Good Puzzles, Terrifying
Graphics: Not Great, But Don’t Need to be
Sound: Amazing, Makes the Game What it is
Presentation: The Game Feels Like a 19th Century Novel, Awesome
- Incredible Sound
- Good Writing
- AMFP Gameplay Too Stripped Down
- Low Replayability
- Plot Holes
A fiction writer and journalist living in Los Angeles who enjoys all things gaming and film.