Amnesia: The Dark Descent
I guided Daniel, Amnesia: The Dark Descent’s main protagonist, down the dark and foreboding hallway. My small lantern cast gloomy shapes across the moldy castle walls. The eerie, unsettling moaning of the wind outside continued to make me shudder—and what was behind that large, ominous door at the end of the hallway?
When I arrived at the door I took a few moments to listen for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that rose above the disquieting wind sounds, that is. Hearing nothing, I inserted the key I’d found earlier into the door and twisted it. A loud clanking sound indicated that the door had been unlocked, so I slowly opened it. A sudden, raspy gust of wind caused me to jolt, and I swung the door open faster than I’d wanted to.
Before me lay a large room with a desk and tall cabinet at one end. Other than that it was very dark. I crept forward towards the desk and soon I could see that there was some sort of object glistening upon it. I reached to the cabinet before the desk and saw that its door was slightly ajar. Suddenly, I heard some loud whispering noise from whence I’d come. Instinct kicked in and I swung the cabinet door open and jumped into it.
I extinguished the lantern in order to stay as hidden as possible. Whatever was now in the room with me would certainly be looking around for anything out of the ordinary. Long moments passed as I shivered within the cabinet. My vision began to shift slightly as Daniel began to freak out because of being enveloped in total darkness. Now I had a choice: Turn my lamp back on and possibly alert my presence to whatever was in the room, or continue to hide in the darkness which was making me lose my mind. Which option did I choose?
Neither. Turns out I turned the game right off.
That thirty or so minute “adventure” with Amnesia: The Dark Descent was five years ago, when the game was still relatively new-ish. I was very popular with streamers and many of the YouTube scrunchy-faced clowns who we all know of nowadays.
Originally, a gaming friend had mentioned to me that he’d tried to play it but only lasted thirty minutes before shutting it off. I laughed and told him I’d finish the game in a couple of days. I ended up eating crow, big time.
“Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a first person survival horror. A game about immersion, discovery and living through a nightmare. An experience that will chill you to the core.” That’s from the game’s main description from its Steam page, and if anything (especially the “chill you to the core part”), it’s a gross understatement. I recently began playing Amnesia again since I had some time available in my review schedule, and boy, do I regret it. Although I did manage to make it far past that initial thirty minute mark, the experience was quite unsettling.
In the game, you play as Daniel, a man who awakens in a mysterious, creepy medieval castle. Initially, you don’t know who you are, why you’re in a castle, or what has exactly caused you to lose your memory. But after coming across a note, which you apparently wrote to yourself before you lost your memory, a few details begin to emerge. It states that your name is Daniel and that you must stop someone named Alexander. It also indicates that you must beware of some sort of shadowy entity which lurks in the castle. The note ends by stating that basically you drank something with the intention of losing your memory. Unfortunately, you don’t exactly know what drove you to do that.
As you venture onwards, deeper and deeper into the castle, you eventually begin to piece together shards of a larger mystery. Details about who Alexander is and what he did, become more apparent. As well as why you must stop him. You’ll also eventually encounter the entity, a horrific creature that is not only following you, but is out to kill you.
This monster shows up at different points in the game and when it does, you must try to avoid it. It is faster than you, so you can’t out run it. Instead you can attempt to hinder it by blocking up doors behind you, or hiding from it. Looking at this horrible entity directly for too long can cause Daniel to go insane.
Other things can also cause you to lose your mind as well, such as standing in the dark or viewing disturbing things. When you lose your mind completely, you drop to the floor and everything around you beings to change, visually. Also, in this inhibited state you can only move very slowly (just like in a real nightmare) and you become easier for the creature to find.
Avoiding insanity can be accomplished by not viewing the monster for too long, and making sure that your lantern has enough fuel to stay on in the many dark areas within the castle. You can also ignite nearby, wall-mounted torches in order to illuminate areas. Just be sure not to look at anything that is too disturbing, or again: Funny farm time.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a very atmospheric and immersive survival horror game. It’s basically the original “hide instead of fight” horror experience that many other games (such as Outlast and Alien: Isolation) copied from. In all, it’s definitely a game that any horror fan shouldn’t pass up.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent features outstanding graphics that make its survivor horror gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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