The lights are on
Your mind is blurry. You have a nagging feeling in the back of your mind, like words on the tip of your tongue. Maybe you are waking up in bed? No... you are on a stone floor covered with dust. You shakily rise to your feet and look around. Suddenly you realize that the feeling in the back of your head is that you can't remember. Your past is a haze of color and darkness. You have fallen victim to one of the biggest cliches in gaming: amnesia. You find a note tasking you with finding a man hidden away in the depths of a spooky castle. Oh and a nice little PS telling you that you are being stalked by an unstoppable evil force.
This is the opening of Amnesia.
I went into the game with the following thought process: "Haha! This game thinks it can scare me, does it? Oooo scary, slamming doors! Haven't seen that a million times before. My screen is going all wobbly? HAH! Wait... what is this red stuff coming out of the walls? Did I see something down that hallway?... Ummm there is a woman screaming down that hallway... Maybe I should go the other way.... HOLY BATMAN'S COD, THAT MONSTER IS GOING TO KILL ME!! I NEED TO DEFEND MYSELF! Wait... what is that game? You are a cruel sadist and didn't give me a means to defend myself besides running like mad and hiding? THANKS."
To clarify if you haven't picked up on it yet: This is a horror game. It is meant to scare you. It will most likely succeed. It's built around being able to interact with different objects and solving physics puzzles. There is no combat in the game beyond running away and hiding in the dark hoping whatever monstrosity that was chasing you will not be able to find you. Often times this will mean that you must hide yourself in a dark space. Amnesia implements a system that monitors your character's exposure to darkness: stay in the dark for too long and you begin to go mad. This sanity meter means that your screen will go wobbly and you will hear more demonic and freaky sounds around you. The game does not rely on cheap scares. What I mean by that is that the fear is largely psychological and not the kind of scare that comes from a knee-jerk reaction to something unexpected leaping out of a closet. Exploration is rewarded with narrated segments of back story and notes that explain various aspects of the storyline that may be confusing. Exploration is also rewarded with extra scares.
The graphics are quite fantastic with lighting that truly sets the mood and used appropriately to bring out the horrific elements. In fact, I would venture to say that the lighting is part of what makes this game successful. With the heavy emphasis on dark and light due to the implementation of the sanity meter, the lighting takes on more importance than with other games (I could go more into this, but I won't for brevity's sake).
This is a game that is certainly worth your time to play through, although I recommend small doses of it if you are not stout of heart. I, myself, had to stop playing several times because there were not enough virtual doors to separate me from the terrors held within. The game itself is fairly cheap at $20, much less pricey than most other games out at the moment. Worth every penny. Since it is a scripted experience its replay value is fairly low, however it is an experience well worth having.
Check out a sample of the gameplay that Amnesia has in store below:
This might be the scariest game of all time.