After games have left the uncanny valley, talking about scary does not always mean the horrible graphics, nowadays it can also mean that the game itself and his whole plot and story is scary and frightening. In the early nineties there were games like “Alone in the dark” that scared gamers to the bones. Nothing really was able to follow up this game and the first real horror game that can remember again was the ingenious “Clive Barker’s Undying”. Based on Unreal Engine I the look of the game still was almost artificial, but it was well scripted and was definitely able to give you the creeps. There were lots and lots of bloody and gore rich games in the late nineties and early new millenium years but nothing with a subtile horror feel. Even though games like “F.E.A.R.” and “Dead Space” are scary and claustrophic as well, in my personal opinion, they are still gory action games with a few frightening moments. The only game that had this special horror touch was “Silent Hill”, but it was stuck in the previously mentioned uncanny valley. If you really want to feel a cold chill floating down your back and shaking every single bone of your spine you should, no, you MUST play “Amnesia – The Dark Descent”.
First thing that I really like about this game, you cannot fight, you can only run away. But let’s start at the very beginning, you wake up in a probably abandoned castle and you don’t even know how you got there. You suffer from amnesia, only your name, Daniel, and after finding a note you get to know that your memory was erased with intent and that you’re the chosen one to kill someone in this castle. During the exploration of the castle you’ll find more and more hints that make you come to several conclusions why you are here. Needless to say, that there are lots and lots of bone chilling moments while wandering deeper and deeper through the halls and floors of this mysterious castle.
Like I mentioned before, you cannot fight in this game. You have no real weapons. You can only run away and hide. Another important thing is, that you have to keep an eye on your health status. A rapidly beating heart is everything else than helpfull and also your brain might play some tricks on you. Did I already mention, that Daniel is afraid of the dark? As you can see, lots of elements that are actually needed to give you a nice and intense horror feeling with a nice dash of claustrophobia. I wasn’t actually able to play this game longer than thirty minutes because I found it too scary. Mostly played at the dark hours and home alone. Which is not a good idea, well, in this case it is.
The presentation of the game is up to date. Based on Unreal Engine III you’ll barely have anything to complain about and the level design is done perfectly as well. You’ll also find some nice physics elements which leads to the grade of realism that was missed in the horror genre for such a long time. I missed that aspect personally. So if you’re tired of being a nearly immortal super soldier fighting hordes of monster in the dark with oversized weapons, you should, no, you MUST play “Amnesia – The Dark Descent”. It’s worth every minute of play, because it’s very intense and of course something different in these days of stereotype game mass production.