Roughly 12 years ago, Amnesia: The Dark Descent released and accomplished three major things: It brought the whole sub-genre of “hide from spooky things you can’t fight back against” to the forefront, it sky-rocketed Pewdiepie to record-breaking subscriber numbers and, most importantly, it gave us all a righteous spook.
To celebrate Halloween we have chosen Amnesia as our game of the week. Whether you claimed the Amnesia Collection (featuring The Dark Descent and A Machine For Pigs) for free on Steam in 2018 or on the Epic Games Store in 2020, there’s several stores you can play it (or also buy it) on. We’ll include a list at the bottom of the article.
You wake up in an eerie corridor with no memory of who you are, aside from a note from your past self. The rest of the game has you slowly remembering who you were (through flashbacks and letters scattered throughout Brennenburg Castle) before the game started and, more importantly, what you did. Your objective is to stop another man from achieving his sinister goals, no matter the cost.
That’s all you’re getting in terms of story, as we’d like to keep this article spoiler-free for those of you who somehow managed to dodge playing this game for twelve years. Having played through the game four times, however, we’ve got a few (again, mostly spoiler-free) tips to share with you as you undertake this spookiest of journeys:
- Always watch your physical and mental health status (by pressing TAB). Being wounded slows you down, while having your head pound and your hands shake can trigger some… unfortunate events.
- Aside from puzzle-related items (more on that later), there’s two indispensable resources you should always be on the lookout for: Tinderboxes and Lamp Oil.
- Tinderboxes are used to light up candles and torches littered throughout the castle. They’re great for rooms you might spend additional time in.
- Lamp Oil powers up your lamp and is indispensable in some of the darker corners of the castle. Conserving your oil and only using it when absolutely necessary can save you enough oil to complete the entire game without using a single Tinderbox!
- Not all enemies function the same.
- Make full use of your ears and listen!
Possibly the most important aspect of any horror game, especially those where all you can do is hide from monsters, is the atmosphere. What separated Amnesia from other titles in 2010 wasn’t just the “can’t fight back” gimmick, but also the care that went into designing Brennenburg Castle. The visuals are permanently eerie, with only the few ‘hub’ areas sending you hopeful, tranquil vibes. The sound design is exquisitely balanced (and even so, much improved upon in later installments!) and serves as both a mood-setting system and a fully-fledged game mechanic. Remember to always be listening.
Something else that also deserves a paragraph of its own are the puzzles. They range from fairly simple, to fairly complex, but do not be disheartened. The Dark Descent isn’t the kind of game that has you searching for solutions every five minutes. Carefully reading instructions (found in letters near the puzzle area) goes a long way to quickly crafting whatever item is required of you and also saves up on lamp oil.
The game does a great job of sending you on ‘reagent runs’ for whatever thing you need to create in order to advance. Need some chemical compound? Why, just take a quick trip to the storage room, which contains an unnatural darkness. Surely there’s nothing there, waiting to pounce on your from the shadows? Expect to be sent to lots of rooms with uncanny names.
You can grab Amnesia: The Dark Descent for PC on the following stores:
The Dark Descent also spawned the following sequels (which follow different characters in the same universe):
- Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, a highly philosophical horror show that takes place at the turn of the 19th century.
- Amnesia: Rebirth, the ‘official’ Amnesia 2, which digs deeper into the mystery of certain… things I can’t spoil from The Dark Descent.
I’d also like to give a special shout-out to SOMA, a game developed by the same studio but set in a futuristic ocean-floor station, where everything goes wrong as well. You can read more about it here.
Have you played Amnesia: The Dark Descent? Are you ready to give it a shot on the night when the veil between the world of the living, and that of the dead, is at its thinnest? Let us know in the comments below!
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