A good horror game is rare especially one that will on occasion make you wonder if you need to check your shorts. Frictional Games Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of those rare games indeed. Throughout the game, your sanity and wits are in question. Will you surrender to the darkness and allow the monsters slaughter you or will you keep your composer and continue on? You will just have to play and see where you measure up. Here is our Amnesia Collection review for the Nintendo Switch.
Amnesia the Dark Descent is a survival horror game by Frictional Games, released in 2010 for Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX and Linux operating systems, later released for the PlayStation in 2016 and the Xbox One in 2018, and as of recent the Nintendo Switch. You play as a protagonist named Daniel, you must explore a dark castle while trying to solve puzzles and the very mystery of Daniels past and present. During these trials, you must maintain your sanity and let not forget monster and utterly terrifying obstructions. So, let’s get this straight, not only are you wondering around an old beat up a castle, there are no lights aside from the candles you lite and your untrustworthy oil lamp with limit sources of fuel. That alone is enough to freak the living crap out of me but in the words of emerald Lagasse, lets “Kick it up a notch!” and add some monsters that will haunt your dreams and scenes coupled with audio effects that will make you wish you could hop in your bed, hide under the covers and hope it all away.
If you did not already guess everything you needed from my excerpt above, here is the lay-down. You need to make your way through the castle in the darkness while trying to keep your sanity. Amnesia has this wonderfully evil mechanic dubbed the “afraid of darkness” mechanic that while in the light you stay all warm and fuzzy. Once the light goes out all the weird and scary stuff your parents told you about become true. Your sense becomes hazy, the world starts to distort, your knees begin to weaken and soon enough up and down are only a fragment of what you thought. Throughout the game, you need to keep a fine-tuned balance of staying in the light enough to forgo going insane and keeping to the shadows to stay unnoticed by the goulash monsters lurking about. To make matters more complex, you simply cannot fight back, your only options are to stay in the shadows and hope you are not seen and if by some chance seen, Run…. Run your heart out and hide somewhere and hope.
Asides from the nightmarish events unfolding around you, there are other obstacles you must overcome on your path through the insanity of it all. Puzzles — what is a great game without puzzles? Not only do you need to use your mind you need to interact with your environment to solve your way forward. You may need to go to room A and collect a gear or two but then you need to go to room E and find an item you may have missed and go back to room A to finish the machine or contraption. Some puzzles are as simple as going to a room opening a drawer and finding an item, while others require you to use some math skills. Never fear as there are diary’s scattered around the entire castle that was left by Daniel before his memories where wiped. Some of these diaries are clues to things that need to be solved while others are simply a tool to further the story.
Amnesia does have downloadable content in the way of “Justine”. This content is a stand-alone story, you play an unnamed female character who just like Daniel wakes up suffering from amnesia but this time in a dungeon cell with only a phonograph. This Phonograph contains a recording by a woman that goes by Justine. She informs the player that she is the subject of a psychological experiment. Once you escape the cell you must complete several puzzles or even abandon the puzzle but will cost the innocent victims to die. Justine will have a different ended depending on how the game is played and what choices are made. Justine maintains the same “afraid of darkness” mechanic as well as items and health monitoring. However, unlike The Dark Descent, your lamp is completely worthless.
Last but not least the combo features the sequel named A Machine for Pigs. This tile was originally set to be a mode by developer “The Chinese Room” it ended up becoming an indirect sequel. Though both games developed and published by Frictional Games this one featured an entirely new cast and time settings. This time players take control of Oswald Mandus, a wealthy industrialist and butcher who is implied to be the great grand-nephew of Daniel. Just like previous noted games the protagonist awakens with, and as you guessed: amnesia. Throughout the game he hears the voices of his sons, Edwin and Enoch, He is lead through different areas of the game by said voices. The Plot consists of Mandus repairing a machine he builds beneath his house, which its very construction was to rid the world of the deformed swine-like monstrosities called manpigs. Later regaining his memories of the terrible things, he had done rages forth to redo what has been done to save the world.
Machine for Pigs is a great game in its own right did not completely feel coherent and the same as the previous as it lacked the “Afraid of Darkness” mechanic and also ditched the inventory system altogether. No longer needing to worry about keeping materials to make light and succumb to the darkness it felt a bit well lacking. It was nice having an unlimited lantern to light your way, I would have rather traded that back in for the old system as it helps with the suspense and overall feel of the game. The puzzles were still challenging and the story did keep the motif. Each game played very well on the witch but sadly I could easily tell it was a port and not a recreation. There were several times through the entire games the frame rates would drop. Many times, when panning around the rooms I would notice artifacting and glitching obviously not designed into the game. Though at times it was kind of creepy to see a painting on the wall disappear, it was another thing to realize it was a glitch. Being on the Switch it would have also been very nice to incorporate one of the Switch’s great features and that, of course, is motion controls. When handling items in the game and moving about it would have been a treat from time to time to use said controls and making tasks like opening a drawer a bit easier to aim and perform.
Aside from the lower frame rates and glitching time to time I have no complaints about the Amnesia combo on the Switch. Few games are able to seduce my fear receptors in such a way that I even start to wonder if my real-life surrounds are safe.
A Switch code was provided for the purpose of review.