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Clark Crisp Sep 13, 2013

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

At A Glance

Fright Fest

Engaging horror adventure; superb ambient effects; good story.

Snoozer

Lack of insanity system; limited enemy engagements; simple puzzles.

A worthy installment to the famed survival-horror series

Your heart pounds in your chest. Your palms sweat on your keyboard and mouse. Your stomach churns. No, you’re not having a heart attack, Amnesia : A Machine for Pigs has got you in its grasp with no signs of letting go. In collaboration between publisher Frictional Games and new developer The Chinese Room, the latest installment of the Amnesia survival-horror series has arrived.

The game is set in London in the year 1899. You are Oswald Mandus, an elite and wealthy industrialist whose empire has been built upon the commercial slaughter of swine. Drawing on the dark and gruesome themes from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle , Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs casts you into the pit of Mandus’ own industrial slaughterhouse in a desperate and frantic search for your twin sons.

Veterans of Amensia: The Dark Descent will instantly recognize familiar gameplay elements while simultaneously being stripped of previously key aspects. There are no weapons to speak of in Amnesia, meaning you can't fight your scary foes. Both the sanity system and the inventory screen, for example, have been removed from the series which grants you the freedom to use your lantern without fear of running out of oil. Standing in the dark no longer makes your character grind his teeth or sway on the screen in a blurry incomprehensible terror nor do bugs slither across your screen anymore. In addition, unlike its predecessor, A Machine for Pigs follows a strict and linear progression with no option for multiple endings.

Mansion artwork in Amnesia is both captivating and creepy.

Even so, The Chinese Room stays true to Amnesia’s psychological horror theme and delivers a worthy successor to the original. Everything from the mansion to the intricate factory setting is crafted meticulously well. Mandus’ mansion, in particular, was constructed with so much charm that it reminded us of the time when we first set foot in the original Resident Evil mansion. And then there are the journals. We found ourselves more repulsed by the journal documents than by the actual grotesque pig-men, i.e., the abominations stalking the halls in search of you throughout the game.

Musically, the works of composer Jessica Curry’s piano melodies still resonate throughout our heads transporting us back to the cursed slaughterhouse. As the composer of haunting adventure game Dear Esther , Curry’s musical score alone is enough to send chills down the spine, serving as the perfect foundation for ambient effects to the game’s environment; the deeper the descent into the factory, the more haunting and melancholic the score. Combined with the squeals from our disfigured swine stalkers, A Machine for Pigs provides a superb ambient sound experience.

There are some rituals that you don't want to understand.

Fans of the survival horror genre will be disappointed by the fact that, despite how well the sound, story, and production levels are, gameplay is actually not as challenging or scary as its predecessor. Puzzles have been greatly simplified and don't require much more attention than a few flicks of a switch or the turning of a valve. Encounters with the enemy feel relatively low and the sudden rattles of the factory and mansion feel predictable. Even with the reliance of scripted and triggered events, the game never got scarier than the original.

All in all, however, the Amnesia experience lives on and A Machine for Pigs proves to be a good successor. Do yourself a favor and forgo the YouTube gameplay videos; Amnesia is a title that is well worth experiencing for yourself.

THE VERDICT

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

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