Support Us!
$2
$3
$5
Powered by
Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

SEE THE NEWEST CONTENT BELOW!

SEE THE NEWEST CONTENT BELOW!

Monday, October 19, 2020

[Review] A Stellar Sequel Ten Years in the Making: ‘Amnesia: Rebirth’ is Frictional’s Best Game Yet

Ten years after Frictional Games had its breakthrough hit with Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the Swedish developer has returned to the series with a sequel that shows just how much it has learned in the last decade. This is definitely a Frictional game, it’s definitely still a horror game, and it’s absolutely an Amnesia sequel, but Amnesia: Rebirth is also much more than these things. It’s a confident, mature, and thoughtful horror game that blends narrative and gameplay in a subtle, yet smart way.

It’s admittedly not that apparent to begin with. Frictional’s blueprint has been watered down by others over the years, and as such, you can’t move for spooky first-person horror games where the player is largely defenseless against unspeakable terrors (Layers of Fear 2, Outlast, Call of Cthulhu, P.T., and Alien Isolation to name but a few). A sequel to The Dark Descent simply could not be another of those games, but the conundrum facing Frictional then is how do you still keep the core of what made Amnesia, and even SOMA, work, whilst trying to move past it?

For starters, this is a sequel in a loose sense. Picking up nearly a century after the events of The Dark Descent, and moving the story from the cold stone confines of Brennenburg Castle to the wide expanse and unnervingly dark cave systems of the Algerian desert in the 1930s. The connection is there (The Dark Descent’s notes make many mentions of digs in this part of the world, and there’s other lore that carries across), but it’s background stuff that doesn’t scream out ‘straight sequel!’. Naturally, it wouldn’t be an Amnesia game without the protagonist suffering from lost memories, and in Tasi Trianon, it has just that. 

Awakening after an accident leaves Tasi and her crew stranded in the Algerian desert, she finds herself unaware of where said crew are, and sets off to discover their whereabouts, as well as find a way to escape the searing hot sun. Being a horror game, things start to take a rather sinister and unsettling turn, and Tasi discovers being stranded is the least of her concerns.

Horror in daylight is a tough ask. Without the shadows to hide unspeakable things, can you really unsettle, or even terrify, the audience? Amnesia: Rebirth still utilizes the power of light and shadow in the more traditional sense (and, as I’ll discuss later, to great effect), but in the moments it ventures onto sprawling sands under sunny skies, there’s a dread-feeling in place that goes beyond monsters in the dark. You feel just how alone and relatively helpless Tasi is in this seemingly endless desert sprawl, and when more is revealed about her situation, these excursions to bright and hot places hold a fresh fear, as well as some relief.

In much the same way safe rooms do in other horror games, the desert can feel like a safe haven, but just a glance at the opening to a cave ahead of you, or the door to an abandoned building, tells you that safety is a relative term, and while you might be safe here right now, staying will be death, so you must press on and face the unknown rather than face the certainty of perishing, lost and alone among the dunes.

So into that accursed darkness you must go, and the change of location is a refreshing one. Early on you descend into the caves, finding evidence of your lost crew along the way. To explore deeper, you’ll need light sources, and Amnesia: Rebirth has matches and later, a lantern, to give you guidance in the pitch-black depths. Matches allow you to light torches and candles, but they burn out as a match should, with wind and hurried movement only hurrying the flame’s journey down the small, thin wooden stick.

The anxious journey from light source to light source is a key factor in Amnesia: Rebirth’s brand of horror. You’re not sure what might lie in wait in this next section of total darkness. Will there be a torch to light along the way? Will you get lost in a maze of tunnels as your matches dwindle? Just how far is it to that next merciful flicker of candlelight?

This uncertainty is weighted by the audio. You hear clearly as small rocks tumble, as scuffling noises seemingly ring out from every direction, and guttural snarls in the gloom behind you prickle the skin.

There’s admirable restraint in what Amnesia does and doesn’t show you during the early hours of the game. Arguably, the game is at its strongest when it arrives at the point it starts to really show you what is lurking out there. During a nervy exploration of an abandoned fort, the various notes from others paint a picture of the creatures you keep hearing, and as you discover more in the fort, the sightings of one such nasty begin to escalate. 

It’s a fantastically handled capsule of building terror. An enemy you know little about, but enough to keep your distance, a need to press on deeper into its lair in order to get past it, and the darkness that blights your every turn. When it finally fully appeared in front of me as I was leaving, having run from it, seen it fleetingly scramble into the shadows from the corner of my eye, it wasn’t done as a jump scare, it was just there, me staring at it and it staring back at me before it hissed and set off. Naturally, I didn’t stick around to see if it was coming back my way.

This area is one of the two biggest in Amnesia: Rebirth. While there’s plenty of suffocating tunnels and murky, narrow hallways to go through, there’s so much more wonder and scale to Rebirth’s world than that. It’s spoiling nothing to say that it’s not all desert and dank caves along the way, but the variety even in these environments is marvelous.

Another returning feature of Amnesia is fear. Fear creeps up on Tasi from horrific sights, prolonged spells in the dark, and stressful situations. As with The Dark Descent, you can prevent her from succumbing to her fear by completing tasks (puzzles are scattered across the length of the game, and offer varying levels of challenge to solve), hiding from monsters, and creating more light sources, but a little ways into the game, an intriguing new way of soothing Tasi’s fears is introduced. It’s interesting, because it feeds directly into everything else that fuels the game, from its horror, to its story motivation. This change is the catalyst for everything that is different about Rebirth.

There’s not much more to be said about that though without spoiling a key part of the story, but what I can discuss is the way death is handled as a result of it.

If Tasi is taken by fear, or indeed by one of the monsters, the game doesn’t end and reload at your last checkpoint/save. Instead, Tasi blacks out and comes to either back where she was, with any monster that had been in the vicinity now elsewhere, or finds herself slightly further ahead on her journey. Frictional has made it clear that after criticisms of SOMA’s monsters, it wished to make the story the unrivaled focus of Amnesia: Rebirth, and this is a risky move given its potential impact on the game’s horror. Frictional realizes this, and makes this system an integral part of the narrative mystery. Yes, it seems like you get a helping hand now and again, but at what cost to Tasi herself? 

Monsters and shadow are the entry-level horror in Amnesia Rebirth, but as with SOMA, there’s a very unsettling human element to it that lingers in the mind long after the screech of nefarious things has left your ears. Tasi’s amnesia helps you empathize with her plight, but it also begins to show that she is an unreliable narrator.

As discoveries lead to her fragmented memory’s return, her perception of the people who were around her shifts and changes along with the narrative explanation for why they are in this situation to begin with. There’s a delicate anchoring of Tasi’s humanity to the dark and terrible place she finds herself in that allows it to lean into empathy, whilst also leaving room for uncertainty. As such, she’s a compelling, and well-written, protagonist, always talking to herself in a believable manner as she scraps and fights her way from peril to predicament. By the game’s end, when almost all is known about her and the story of why she is here, the impact of her, and indeed the player’s, final choices are made all the more powerful for having been so wrapped up in her emotional journey, and witnessing all she has been through.

At seven or so hours in duration, Amnesia: Rebirth is fairly snappy in its storytelling, whilst allowing its nuances room to breathe. The pacing is near-perfect save for a particularly lengthy section, but even that has its own merits in furthering and enriching the story. Another mild criticism is that it’s arguably most enthralling in its early hours, as there’s more that remains mysterious then, but again, there’s worth to almost everything that occurs along Tasi’s journey.

At a glance, Amnesia: Rebirth could be taken for just about any other horror game of its ilk. That’s understandable given the last decade of influence Frictional has had on the genre. What Frictional does so well, what it’s always done well, is adapt. Bubbling under the surface of Rebirth are so many slight tweaks, changes, and improvements to a tired, but winning, formula that raises it above the copycats and potential usurpers. This is a game grown from regret and from mistakes as much as it is from success, and while Rebirth works as a title on so many levels, it’s best use is in how Frictional has reincarnated a seminal horror game as something relatively familiar on the surface, but quite different under the skin of it.

Amnesia: Rebirth review code for PS4 provided by the publisher.

Amnesia: Rebirth is out October 20 on PS4 and PC.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/video-games/3637290/review-stellar-sequel-ten-years-making-amnesia-rebirth-frictionals-best-game-yet/

No comments:

Post a Comment


Support Us!
$2
$3
$5
Powered by
Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!



The Top 10 Streaming Scary Movies of Today (According to Netflix)

Given that Netflix really is the master of their own data, how many times a viewer streams The Ridiculous 6, or what films don't get watched all the way straight through, or how many times someone watches an episode of Bill Nye Saves the World, it was easy for them to come up with the list based on just one percentage: 70 percent.

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!


3 Frightening Clowns Not from the Underworld or Magical Hell


3 Viral Videos Proving Spiders Are Still Scary as Hell


Stephen King Adores These 22 Horror Films


3 Super Stories on 'Halloween' and Horror That'll Make You Want to Wear the Mask

xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#'