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Nick Perrin

Just beat Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

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...and it's the scariest experience I've had in years.

Yes I know I haven't been around in a while and this is a weird way to return but I was planning to come back and work on MoUAC again anyway so no biggie.

Back on topic - This game Amnesia: The Dark Descent is from August 2010, a release from indie developer Frictional Games (of the supposedly great Penumbra series, which I've never played). It has since gained a cult following and thanks to some big websites and a zero punctuation review now is selling well too, allowing the dev to make more good games.

It's been hyped for its extreme horror. It's a first-person adventure survival horror. But you don't shoot anything or fight. As such the game was waaaay too succesful at making me feel weak and useless all the way through, which makes it pretty scary. By the end of the game I was starting to figure things out and didn't take every step with trepidation but for the first 3 quarters of the game? I was afraid to look around every corner.

There were many scenes where my heart was pounding outta my chest. Despite a lackluster ending, this is a game that will stick with me for a while. It was extremely immersive, so many little things added up to that whether it was the complete lack of hud, the interaction with the environment, not having to remember to save(the game autosaves very frequently to keep you immersed in the game and not safe behind the security of a quicksave button), etc. etc. It really feeds upon fear of the unknown as well, with a Lovecraft-inspired story, playing out in a way that an actual Lovecraft novella might. IE weak protagonist, runs away from stuff, never knows what's chasing him, goes insane (yes, there is sanity and insanity involved too).

It's been so long since I've had such an intense emotional reaction to a game, and it's easily the scariest game I've played too. That alone is enough to recommend it heartily to all of you. I will say that with such a scary title there were times I was nervous to boot it up again, but something kept pulling me in...

If you DO play it though, please buy it. The devs need that money, they made this one completely broke and more money = new & better games from them. I got it for just 20$ on Steam.

Also, if you play it during the day or with the lights on, you're an idiot. However, if you try it during the night all alone and it's too scary, I'll understand - the game's just not for you.

Anyone else played this game?

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I've played the demo of it, and I have to say it's extremely atmospheric and creepy. Playing a game which makes you feel almost helpless is a rarity, most of the time you're a bad ass with a shotgun, or you can become a bad ass with a shotgun. I keep meaning to buy it, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I would recommend getting Penumbra however, it's similar, and it gives an amazing feeling of isolation and fear. Most of the fright doesn't come from what's there, but what you think might be there.

If you're looking for other sanity reducing games, I'd recommend the Half-Life mod Afraid of Monsters if you haven't played it already. It's sort of a cross between Silent Hill and Jacobs Ladder.

By the way, when's the new MoUAC coming out? The original version is still my favorite weapons mod.

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Jello said:

I would recommend getting Penumbra however, it's similar, and it gives an amazing feeling of isolation and fear. Most of the fright doesn't come from what's there, but what you think might be there.


Yeah from what I hear it's a refined, scarier Penumbra... although that's not all there is to it, but apparently they share a lot of similarities. Being afraid of what you imagine is there is definitely part of the game.

Jello said:

If you're looking for other sanity reducing games, I'd recommend the Half-Life mod Afraid of Monsters if you haven't played it already. It's sort of a cross between Silent Hill and Jacobs Ladder.


Played it. Never beat it all the way through, it was a little confusing... but I've played the first chunk of both the original and the "remake." That was pretty scary when I first tried it, an impressive feat considering the engine and its usual implications of gameplay style due to the technology used.

Jello said:

By the way, when's the new MoUAC coming out? The original version is still my favorite weapons mod.


I hate to say "When It's Done" but at this point I must. For the record the original MoUAC I consider to be amateurish garbage (but know that it can still be fun)... in any case, the new stuff is made with more experience and the greater objectivity to quality control that experience brings!

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This game was recommended to me by a friend who described it as "so scary it's almost painful to play". I'll give it a try one of these days.

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I thought that said "America: The Dark Descent" and thought it was a game about Tea Partiers slowly taking over the country.

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Danarchy said:

I thought that said "America: The Dark Descent" and thought it was a game about Tea Partiers slowly taking over the country.


That would be more terrifying than any present game ever made.

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Nick Perrin said:

But you don't shoot anything or fight. As such the game was waaaay too succesful at making me feel weak and useless all the way through, which makes it pretty scary.


And that's why I'm not getting it. I don't mind not walking through scary locations armed to the teeth with Bullet Time and a huge arsenal of guns, but I can't stand the idea of being completely helpless to defend myself against anything and being forced to run from everything.

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Xeros612 said:

And that's why I'm not getting it. I don't mind not walking through scary locations armed to the teeth with Bullet Time and a huge arsenal of guns, but I can't stand the idea of being completely helpless to defend myself against anything and being forced to run from everything.


As in, it's too scary, or you think the gameplay won't appeal to you? I understand if its the former (these games are definitely not everyone's cup of tea) but if its for the latter reason, gameplay, trust me, I was never bored once through this title.

...except once when I loaded an old autosave because I thought I missed an item for an alternate ending that I otherwise wouldn't be able to get, only to get it and realize that they give you another opportunity to get it later on. Poo.

Also, this game is darker than Doom 3. In its dark parts that is.

Megalyth said:

This game was recommended to me by a friend who described it as "so scary it's almost painful to play". I'll give it a try one of these days.


Just got a buddy of mine to buy it, he's only a few hours in but echoed that sentiment. "I had to take a break and quit after (certain part of game), it was just too painful." Of course he also said "holy fuck it's amazing" so it's good pain.

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Gameplay. I've gone through F.E.A.R. and Condemned and games like that well enough, it's the inability to do anything but run and/or hide from danger that puts me off from it.

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Xeros612 said:

Gameplay. I've gone through F.E.A.R. and Condemned and games like that well enough, it's the inability to do anything but run and/or hide from danger that puts me off from it.


Well, IMO FEAR and Condemned weren't really scary, just creepy. Also IMO, to limit yourself from a new and potentially engaging singleplayer experience because you're used to having guns seems silly. Part of the big draw is that it's an original idea, and that of course also makes the horror so much more effective. Pulling the player's defenses away was a very deliberate choice, early designs for the game had the player wielding some basic weapons.

But I guess if you want the same experience of survival horror FPS all over again...

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This is just wrecking my nerves. Last night I was getting parts for the elevator or something, when without me noticing some monster had sneaked behind one door and I nearly shit my pants. I started running back to one storage room and there I turned around and slammed the door shut just in time (lucky me this time I left it open). I then went to darkest corner hoping it would go away and I think it broke the door but didn't come after me then. I just had to quit. The moment I turned around and saw it running towards me just a few feets away before I shut the door still gives me the creeps. The water/sewer part too... hrrrrr.

I guess it's pretty rare there's no killing in games. I wonder why it's needed for fun/good/succesful games (racing and sport etc aside ofc).

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Nick Perrin said:

Well, IMO FEAR and Condemned weren't really scary, just creepy. Also IMO, to limit yourself from a new and potentially engaging singleplayer experience because you're used to having guns seems silly. Part of the big draw is that it's an original idea, and that of course also makes the horror so much more effective. Pulling the player's defenses away was a very deliberate choice, early designs for the game had the player wielding some basic weapons.

But I guess if you want the same experience of survival horror FPS all over again...

Based on what you posted it's essentially the "same experience of survival horror FPS all over again" only without the gun. Doesn't sound too enticing to me.

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Xeros612 said:

Based on what you posted it's essentially the "same experience of survival horror FPS all over again" only without the gun. Doesn't sound too enticing to me.


Of course it is totally different when you have a gun. There's nothing to fear really as you can defend yourself, right? I really don't understand you since the fear and tension comes from not having anything to defend yourself.

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Xeros612 said:

Based on what you posted it's essentially the "same experience of survival horror FPS all over again" only without the gun. Doesn't sound too enticing to me.


It's fair if you think you'd hate the game, but for me at least, this game was the single most tense horror game I've ever played. No survival horror FPS I've played has been as tense. And when a game is that tense and scary, it's never boring. Unless you need to be killing something to be entertained, the experience is worth a chance. If you absolutely have to kill something for a game to be fun, then don't play it.

Essentially my message is "yes there were no guns and there was no killing of enemies but I was fully entertained regardless."

So you might have fun without realizing it.

xepop said:

the fear and tension comes from not having anything to defend yourself.


A bigger part of this is the fear of the unknown. The creatures and whatever may be out there keeps its mystique of fear; in a game with guns where every now and then you're encouraged to run at a foe and pump them with lead reduces the mystery. You can observe them, kill them, inspect their dead bodies, etc. The imagination takes more of a backseat in that scenario.

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I just started playing this, amazing game so far. Mostly I just run in cowardice when monsters appear, or jog around them and never look back.

The scariest/most suspenseful part for me so far was when

Spoiler

you were in the chamber of endless rooms filled with water, and a water walker is chasing you. You have to run down the halls and stop it by slamming doors behind you.

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The appeal of doom to me was never fear. It was always the sense of adventure and exploration mated to great action and atmosphere--a complete experience. I don't get the allure of horror. I can see it for a movie once in awhile... but a gaming experience? That's just my personal preference based on personal experience tho.

"so scary it's almost painful to play." Sounds like fun!

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Hellbent said:

The appeal of doom to me was never fear. It was always the sense of adventure and exploration mated to great action and atmosphere--a complete experience.


Amnesia is exactly that - adventure and exploration mated to fantastic atmosphere and scares instead of straight action.

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