I have a confession to make: I never finished the original Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Why? Because of several reasons:
- I was a great deal younger and therefore my ability to man the fuck up was severely hindered.
- I was playing the game in the dark and with my best friend Mark, who was also unable to man the fuck up. In fact his jumping and breathing down my neck made things worse for me.
- We saw the first gatherer and after jumping out of the chair and yanking the mouse out of its USB port decided we’d come back and play it again later.
- We never came back to play it again later.
But I did get around to watching Jesse Cox’s wonderful play-through of it. So I didn’t miss out on the story or anything like that. I respected the fear inducing pursuits of the monsters and the creepy warping of the insanity meter. I loved the large levels with multiple rooms and paths.. and I really hoped that they’d make a new one.
So when I heard The Chinese Room were making the new one my first thought was “I don’t know if it’ll be as scary… but it’ll be damn pretty.” When I saw it had a steampunk Victorian vibe I was pretty excited (I have a distinct love for steampunk…)
I’ve played it through now from start to finish. So I’m going to list my thoughts on it below – I’ve separated them into good and bad points to make it easier for anyone who reads this:
I really liked the story (despite having guessed where it was going very early on…) It was creepy, sickening and macabre – it was definitely what I wanted from an Amnesia game. I’ve been told by a few people that they don’t think the ties between this game and the original are strong enough – but I think the references to the original game were just right without being too annoyingly in your face. I liked how they dared to be perverse in their storytelling when so many games don’t dare to get anywhere close to that. I was engaged by it from start to finish and I liked the ending a great deal.
The setting of the game was beautifully done. I wouldn’t have expected any less from The Chinese Room, though. They really brought grimy industrial London to life. The levels were sufficiently terrifying and I was constantly impressed by the attention to detail in their grand design.
Enemy design was wonderful… the pig men were gross and their effect on the lights always made me think twice before going down a small corridor. There was one particular enemy type close to the end that REALLY caused me to panic in utter terror.
I liked the removal of the insanity, oil and health meters – it allowed to me focus more on the world and the issues at hand instead of fumbling around inside an inventory. Come to think of it the lack of inventory in general really helped to immerse me deeper into the game.
It was too damn short… I was surprised how quickly I managed to plow through it. I was even taking regular Facebook and food breaks to ensure I didn’t die from a heart attack or something.
The really terrifying enemy type I mentioned earlier is only used right at the end of the game for a few encounters. This is a real shame because it was a damned good heavy hitter. Now I know that using it more might have made it lose its impact… but it seemed a shame that it came and went so quickly.
The levels in the game were far too linear… it lacked a great deal of the exploration that made the first Amnesia so interesting. This linearity made the puzzles exceptionally easy too as the solutions to problems were normally a room or two away instead of far on the other side of the level. Hiding from the pig men was something that I would only have to do in order to progress past a certain location instead of in the original Amnesia where they were an ever-present threat. I think this made the game less scary as I knew there was always bound to be an obvious way past the creatures because I needed to get to the area behind them.
Man pigs raping small children is never going to be okay. You hear me? Never.
This Little Piggy Had A Conclusion
A Machine For Pigs is a most excellent game, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was genuinely terrifying at some moments and thats what I expected from the game. The story was most interesting and enthralling and was played out quite nicely through the use of notes and voice recorders. I would definitely say it lacks some of the things that made the original Amnesia so nerve-wrackingly terrifying but it does a good job of making you jump once in a while. It feels like a decent successor to the first and in an age where sequels never live up to the originals it does hold itself quite well. Nice work The Chinese Room… nice work indeed.