by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Masters of atmosphere (cntd)
At one point I turned round to have a monster breathing down my neck, but although it was trying its best to swing at me, none of its attacks were connecting, which reduced part of the terror somewhat. The moment I moved away from that specific location, it did manage to turn me into pulp in a matter of seconds. Although that was a very “oh, it’s just a video game” moment, it did not reduce the impact of later encounters, which speaks to just how well the game has been structured around those tense moments.
Interestingly, although it is a sequel to the original game, mechanics have actually been taken out rather than put in. You will no longer have to scavenge for oil to keep your light going, it stays on as long as you like. It will of course attract unwanted attention, and it does allow for some excellent moments where the light will flicker on and off in certain situations. That you actually have to have your lantern on in these instances to even notice that is just another example of that attention to detail. Gone too is any concept of managing your sanity. The screen will still shake and go blurry at certain moments, but you will no longer randomly collapse and have to crawl around if you haven’t seen a light for a while. Equally, health will regenerate automatically, so you won’t have to hold onto all that laudanum. In fact there is no inventory system at all, anything you need to carry around will have to be picked up and transported manually. Normally a sequel will pile on more stuff for you to worry about, but I like the stripped down feel that A Machine For Pigs is going for, as it really allows more focus to be put on the excellent story.
It still has that signature Amnesia feel though. You will still be solving simple puzzles by searching for objects and putting them into place. The puzzles aren’t all that strong, and are generally completed by simply picking up the only thing in the environment that can be picked up, and moving it to the fairly obvious place for it to go. That said they weren’t tedious, and everything you were doing actually felt like you were contributing to the overall narrative, rather than just completing puzzles for the sake of it. I’m not sure whether it was because I -had- to play it for a review, but I did get the feeling that this new game isn’t quite as scary as the original. Maybe it’s because the environments themselves aren’t as creepy as before, or maybe it was because I was so intent on seeing the next part of the story. That said, the actual monsters you come across are more horrific than those found in the first game, and I had more than my fair share of shivers while playing. It is a couple of hours shorter than The Dark Descent, but this is a simple observation as I have no complaints about the length of the game.
Put aside your fears
I’m going to be honest with you again. I played most of Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs in the daytime. But, I did have the curtains drawn, so that counts for something, right? I went into the game with trepidation, it’s a rare occurrence for just the name of a game to bring strong emotions out of you before you even play. However, the extremely high quality of the game meant that after the first break I took, I was actually eager to jump right back in. The blood curdling story which has you twisting between empathy and loathing is truly fantastic, and it’s one of the best reasons to put aside any fears you may have and play this great game.
Atmosphere is just as chilling as ever. One of the strongest stories of the year.
The enemy AI remains the weakest part of the game.