Who doesn't love being scared? Adrenaline pumping through your veins, your heart racing, looking behind you in fear of what you might see waiting for you in the darkness, cuddling with your spouse on the couch, feeling like their arms are the only thing that can protect you from the hideous creatures that run chills up your spine…
Yeah, we all like to feel fear every now and then.
If you're looking for some good ol' teeth-chattering fun, look no further than Frictional Games', Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It'll keep you glued to your seat and screaming out loud as you run from all the terrible creatures chasing after you as you unravel the game's mystery.
I'll save the rest of the explanation for my list of the five best features in Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Yes, you have a sort of health gauge to keep track of in this game. What you also have, though, is a gauge of your fear. If you're not careful, you can be scared to death. The way you maintain your fear gauge is pretty realistic for someone who's in a scary situation, too. If you get freaked out, it's best to stare at some light for a while -- a candle, for example. Just, you know, to feel a bit better.
The way your fear is revealed to you is creepy. First, your teeth start chattering … or maybe you start biting your nails. One way or another, you start to make a creepy noise with your body that you'd do anything to stop. It's not a nice sound. If you can't find a way to stop the horrible noises you make, you'll start to see things. The room will get all wishy-washy, and you might see something crawling around in your vision. There's nothing quite so wonderfully grotesque as feeling like you have bugs crawling all over your eyelids…
Things like a lot of darkness can start to make the main character nervous, but so can some more … terrible things. Like the hideous beasts that will chase you all about the place. So you might want to stare at a lot of candles while you can.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is not the first game to leave you weaponless in a world swimming with things that want to kill you. Silent Hill is a good example of this. It's much freakier when the game's an FPS (drop the S) though. Not that Silent Hill won't make you pee yourself, or anything.
There's nothing quite like seeing an enemy run straight towards you. Especially when you're already freaked out, with bugs running across your swimming vision, as you stumble through a darkness so deep you can't actually see what's ahead of … OH GOD ANOTHER MONSTER!
You are just about powerless in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Your best bet -- no, your only bet -- is to run and hide. when you see that leathery zombie-like critter chasing after you, dive into a closet, because you don't have a leg to stand on (or won't once he catches you). Are there invisible creatures kicking your butt every time you try to wade through water? Better keep above the water, then. There's no way you'll get past it otherwise.
Only in the realm of the video game does a person actually get a kick out of feeling extremely helpless. And man, does Amnesia ever leave you feeling that way.
There's a reason the game's called "Amnesia". You wake up God knows where with no memories whatsoever. The back-story is slowly revealed to you, sort of like in Nolan's Memento. Just, instead of using picture with captions to find your way back to reality, you get letters: "Dear me -- you might want to look behind you … actually, maybe you don't."
So, you're tossed into this castle-type place where creepy stuff's happening and even creepier monsters are trying to eat your heart, and in the midst of all this, you start finding letters revealing a haunting tale of how you came to be here. Sometimes they're your own journal entries, sometimes they're other writings, but one thing's for certain: if you weren't already freaked out, you will be as the morbid events that led up to your gallivant through the scariest dungeon of all time is revealed. Especially what they did to those poor dogs…
Atmosphere is probably the most important aspect of any horror game. I mean, have you ever been thoroughly freaked out by Robot Unicorn Attack? Kay, maybe a little...
Amnesia: The Dark Descent features a great horror game atmosphere that will leave your teeth chattering, your nails bitten, and your butthole clenched. At the start of the game, you're told to adjust your brightness for full effect. That's how much effort they put into making the game's atmosphere just right.
Music plays when enemies are around, otherwise it's all about ambience, and things left unseen. Nothing like some good old wailing, a child crying, or dogs yelping to add to the utter darkness and half-melted zombie creatures!
What would a horror game be without, well, horror? You can have all the atmosphere and exposition you want, but if you aren't left trembling, you'll end up wanting your money back.
Oh, and for the record, jump scares aren't enough. Jump scares aren't even close to enough. You can get away with like, a jump scare per hour before it just gets old.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent features several different kinds of scary.
It's creepy, with the bugs in your vision, creatures that may or may not be rats running around, and that horrible sound you make when you're scared, as I mentioned before. It's also located well. You're very much trapped. There are windows you can jump out of -- if you want to fall to your death. Otherwise, what you get is cramped hallways that leave you praying you're not going to meet anything along your journey, vast, open rooms where you could swear you just saw something move, and dingy areas that are dark enough to make you nervous.
Depending on the size of your gonads, you can choose to make the game darker or lighter, too, setting yourself up for more or less shivers as you see fit.
The monsters, and how they came to be monsters, will also leave you fretting. The horrid, melted, zombie-like creatures are your main enemy, but there's also invisible tortured ex-dogs, and that's just the beginning of your horrors. Honestly, is there any worse fear than running headlong from something you can't even see without a single hope of protecting yourself? I mean, your best option is to hide, but there's no way to hide from it, you can hear it right behind you. Now the question is, is there any worse fear than needing to hide from a terrible monster, but having no way to hide? And if you somehow escape the monster, what's next? Do you really want to journey further into the depths of this horrible place? Well, you have to, in order to escape…
That's he best part about this game. it keeps you scared. Even when you know there will be a monster around the corner, that doesn't make it any less horrifying. Plus, the tension is building, plot-wise, and you know the climax to this game will be sickening…