Horror games aren’t exactly uncommon but, at least in my experience, most end up as just a sequence of jump scares held together with a meager plot. Of course, there are exceptions, but sadly they’re few and far between and many aren’t on the radar of most gamers. The Amnesia series, however, presents the perfect way horror games should be and, without a doubt, are must plays for anyone and everyone.
Developed and published by Frictional Games, the Amnesia series currently has three installments: “The Dark Descent,” “Justine,” and “A Machine for Pigs,” the last of which was developed by The Chinese Room. While the games are set in the same universe, they have very minor connections and each works as a stand alone story. What all three have in common is that they thrust the player into a first-person role, where the protagonist has lost his or her memories and is forced to confront monstrosities related to his or her past.
While the set-up may sound odd, it works absolutely brilliantly. The player is in the dark just like the protagonist, and must piece together the story line and past events bit by bit, finding letters, journal entries, and audio recordings which hint at what came before. All the while, hideous beasts dog the player’s steps. Most horrifying of all? These monsters cannot be killed by the player character, and often one’s only option is to flee or hide since they can usually kill you in three hits.
The Amnesia games are also excellent period pieces. Set during the 19th century in Europe, each game gives a glimmer into its specific epoch. “A Machine for Pigs,” for instance, places the player in London at the turn of the century, and presents objects like victrolas and pneumatic tubes, while addressing issues such as factory pollution and workers’ rights.
The series also gives the player a horrible sense of loneliness, which only reinforces the fear one feels while playing. You meet practically no NPCs, and any dialogue is usually just the player talking to him or herself about events past and present. The creators throw in tons of creepy moments as well, from well-placed organ music to disturbing paintings in the mansions you explore.
Overall, the Amnesia series defines stellar horror game. They’re not too difficult, but will definitely give you hours of enjoyment (and a few good scares). So I’m telling you today to give the Amnesia games a shot!
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