The Amnesia series has been scaring the pants off of many horror fanatics for years now, since 2010 if I’m not mistaken, and still somewhat graphically holds up to this day, offering the scares that many have tried to recreate. In many ways the horror/survival title has become a staple for horror games even today and has set a pretty tall benchmark for years to come. Amnesia has also been a YouTube and streamers dream game, with people watching from all over the world just to see someone scream or cry.
Even celebrity YouTuber PewDiePie had great success from these games and mentions how Amnesia helped grow his channel. Now the thrill has come to Xbox. Horror fans can now rejoice and dive into the universe created by Frictional Games and explore the blood soaked, heart racing dark decent, which is terrifying to say the least. The Amnesia Collection comes with two main titles; The Dark Decent and A Machine for Pigs, along with a DLC pack, Justine, added for The Dark Decent – and so I shall review this collection as such.
Amnesia: The Dark Decent
As the game starts off, you wake up on the ground of an unknown castle without no recollection of the past except for your name and a single motive, ‘he needs to die’. As you start to move around the castle you notice things become blurry and slow, fuzzy even. This is what happens when you start to lose your sanity and become overpowered by the darkness. You soon find out you must create light by lighting candles with tinderboxes – think of an old school zippo lighter. These can be collected in various places like cupboards and wardrobes, under beds and high on shelves.
Along with these handy boxes you also have a lamp which you can hold out for light, to help calm your character down, and also serves is a handy tool to help you search for notes to piece together the story or to give you tips and clues on what to do next. You also come across polygraphs, which when activated, tell you the story as you proceed along. Now what’s a horror game without puzzles? and there are a lot of them. During the course of the game you will encounter objects such as gears and levers to use in door puzzles or to fix machines along the way, allowing you to dive deeper into the madness that awaits.
The creatures (or monsters) of Dark Decent are some of the scariest designs I’ve seen in a game. You may have googled a picture to see how messed up they are, but when you’re running down a dark corridor and notice a growl, turn around and see one of these things coming at you, it puts a whole new meaning on the word run! Your heart races as you scramble to find the nearest wardrobe or dark corner to crouch and hide in, slamming doors behind you as you run to offer the slightest amount of extra time. These ‘Grunts’ as they are called in-game, can detect light, movement, and sometimes sound, depending on the section of the game you’re in.
There are other enemy encounters in the game but I’m not telling you, where’s the fun in that? The monsters in Amnesia can harm you (and will) if caught or within close distance. Picking up little bottles of laudanum, which acts as health, will see you through to the next encounter. The controls in Amnesia for all games are actually fairly solid and respond well, but can take a little bit to get used to, and believe me, you want to get used to them.
The most frantic part of the game, which generally adds to the fear factor and is what usually catches most players out, is the way to open and close doors, or moving interactive items and switches. For example, you need to select the door and then hold it while using the right thumbstick, and then swing the door open in a half circle kind of motion. Typical for most first person horror/survival titles like these, and can indeed take some getting used to, but like I said in a rush to survive, practice makes perfect.
Justine is the DLC expansion for Dark Decent and does well in keeping the game going. You wake up once again as an unknown protagonist that’s locked in a cell, with nothing but a polygraph and a lantern hanging above your head. Activating the polygraph lowers the lantern and unlocks the cell door, to which you open the door and venture forth. Now, Justine is not part of the Dark Decent storyline directly, but is set in the same universe, same as Amnesia 2. Justine is the same as Dark Decent in every way, though only being smaller in content.
Your goal is to advance through the ‘Cabinet of Perturbation’ as it’s so called, and choose whether or not three captives should live or perish to the torture devices they are hooked up to, and with the added little bonus of animated traps, it adds to that extra satisfaction. They can all be saved, but is that what you choose? Justine also has a new monster with its own backstory as to how it came about, and the same thing applies as in the main game; sound and light can trigger an attack, so it pays off to stay low and in stealth. The core mechanics are exactly the same as the original so there should be no problem with the transition when jumping straight into this one.
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
A Machine For Pigs is another take on the Amnesia series and brings small changes, but always keeping its core mechanics in sight. This game was actually developed by another company known as The Chinese Room, and was then published by Frictional Games. This title was actually created to be another DLC to the expanding world of Amnesia, but after realizing what the company can do with it, they decided to create another fully-fledged game out of the idea.
A Machine For Pigs, in every right, fits with the Amnesia universe but has a couple of drawbacks which distinguishes itself from its predecessor. Unfortunately, this game is a lot more linear with not as much exploration needed, thus making the game not as difficult. The game still shows many doors, but sadly, most are just plain shut and used as scenery. Improvements have been made like the added outside areas and new monsters – Manpigs, as it were, which charge and slash at you while putting you under intense pressure to hide or just keep running for your life.
The Same mechanics also apply here; light, movement and sound are key to surviving any of these creatures, yet encounters will be far less frequent than the original. The health bar and health items have also been removed from this game, further adding to the element of survival. You play as Oswald Mandus, a wealthy butcher in search of his two sons, Edwin and Enoch. You receive a call on the phone from a man calling himself the engineer, explaining that your sons are trapped in the mechanic creation below the earth. As you descend, you unravel the twists and turns in an attempt to set things right once again.
Amnesia: Collection is a must have for horror fans. The game’s performance remains on point throughout, and although the visuals are somewhat dated, this surprisingly adds to the game’s eeriness in the grand scheme of things. The bottom line here is that for its asking price, you’re getting plenty of terrifying content in return, content that’s arguably a staple for survival horror as we know it.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One X. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.