Game Review: Amnesia the Dark Descent

Frictional, the developer of the downloadable game: Amnesia: The Dark Descent has played an excellent and scary riff on Lovecraft and the great William Castle haunted house movies of the 1950’s.

In Amnesia: The Dark Descent you play Daniel. Daniel wakes up in a castle with amnesia. The only hint he has as to who, or what, he is, is a letter. The letter tells him to find and kill a man named Alexander. Oh and also there are monsters that are chasing him. These monsters not only want to kill Daniel, but they will also drive him mad, if they can.

The game play consists of Daniel running and hiding from monsters as he tries to solve various puzzles and perform an array of tasks. The truly scary part of this game is that Daniel cannot fight. He can run, he can hide, but he has no weapons with which to destroy his pursuers. This is no “first person shooter.” At best, Daniel may drive off the attacking monsters with lighted candles or an oil lamp. But candles and lamp oil are in short supply and hard to find in the darkness of the castle.

The graphics are excellent; dark and brooding, the player will find themselves leaning forward and straining their eyes to see in the shadows and find that object they need so badly. Innovation and creativity are very high. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is no gore fest and it takes real thought to scare a player without monsters leaping out of closets or blood showering everywhere. And the game will frighten the player. The sound is creepy and moody, like the rest of the game. The voice acting occasionally leaves something to be desired and is also sometimes difficult to understand, much less “believe”.

If the game breaks down anywhere, it is in the internal logic of solving the puzzles or performing simple action. In one example, Daniel must use two different tender boxes to light two different candles when the candles are right next to each other. Why can’t he just light one candle and then use it to light the other? These niggling little faults pop up too often in the game.

If you like the old Penumbra game series or want a really scary, tense gaming experience, like gamers haven’t had in awhile than at a relative low $20.00 dollars, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is the game for you.

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