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!