'Amnesia: Rebirth' Has the Scares, But Buckles Under the Weight of History

Every night for the past week or so, I've given my wife a kiss, grabbed a beer, and headed into my dark office. I'll close the blinds, turn off the trippy colored lighting on my keyboard, and put on a pair of headphones while the loading screen for Amnesia: Rebirth does its thing. My relationship to horror has been defined by my wife at my side, but my wife doesn't like to watch me play games, even horror ones, which means I'm left to experience this nightmare on my own.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pkdeag/amnesia-rebirth-has-the-scares-but-buckles-under-the-weight-of-history

I really want to play Machine for Pigs but that seems way too scary. All of these are too scary…

SOMA’s problem by the way, wasn’t so much the monsters as much as being like three times longer than it needed to be.

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I’ve been playing this game, and I really like it!!! After my first night with the game I was going to come back to this thread to say that this one isn’t scary, but I just hadn’t gotten to the scary parts yet.

I will say that Rebirth isn’t nearly as unrelenting with its scares as the Dark Descent was. When it’s scary, it’s terrifying though. Mechanical spoilers: Basically, most of the scary parts in this game are confined to more set-piecey sections, which I think is excellent. Patrick talked on the pod about how sections in a horror game are scariest the first time you play them, and then the returns decrease quickly on respawns. The set pieces sidestep that by being mostly linear (with one EXCELLENT exception) so that the fear comes from the feeling that something is chasing you while you make split second decisions on how to escape. I’m not sure if it’s just good game design pushing you in the right direction, or if there really is just one way to go, but either way it feels like you’re making it by on the skin of your teeth every time.

I will say that the more open ended sections where you’re sneaking past monsters are good too. Patrick talked on the pod about the respawn mechanic, and how it mitigates the diminishing returns of fear. Another smart way they deal with this is that sometimes when you’re caught by the monster, they will pick you up and throw you toward your objective, so you get the shock of seeing the hideous beast up close, and then you get to run forward and hide. You avoid having to redo a section, and you get right back into being lost in a new section, trying to sneak your way towards progress.

Okay, last bit of mechanical spoilers, but these are less spoilery: Rob talked about how you don’t really need to use the matches, because your character can see in the dark. As you progress through the game, and you’re in more monster sections, matches are more for keeping your fear meter in check while you hide behind a pillar or in a cabinet, as having set light sources make you easier to see. Because the beginning of the game is more puzzle focused, it’s hard to intuit that early on, which does make the resource aspect seem strange.

Anyways, I like the game so far (I think I’m about 2/3rds in), but it’s more of a capital H horror game in a way that SOMA wasn’t. I feel like this game isn’t hitting in the way their previous games did, and I think that’s a shame! Also, I will not stand by the wonky physicals puzzle slander! I loved turning cranks by circling my mouse around in Penumbra in 2009, and I love it in Amnesia Rebirth today!

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The original is definitely the right game at the right time considering Silent Hill’s golden era was long over and what few horror games that existed (Dead Space, Resident Evil 5) were following the RE4 action-horror template. Though I think it’s a game design dead end since your verbs are limited to running and hiding when dealing with the monster, and it’s gotten really worn out in the decade of copycat streamer-bait horror games ever since. It makes for a very narrow range of emotional response.

A Machine for Pigs and Soma back-to-back communicate a creative direction where really evocative horror settings are trapped in a cage of needing to abide by template so that the big scare-streamers are happy.

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I enjoyed Amnesia and Soma, both were decently spooky up until a point. I don’t remember a machine for pigs being all that scary really. Everyone’s tolerance for that sort of thing varies, but I’d put it on the bottom tear of frightening. I found it far less scary than say the RE2 remakes and way less frightening than RE7.

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