Rich industrialist Oswald Mandus is the star of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. The man awakens from a terrible fever one day and begins having terrible visions of a recent business trip in Mexico. Worse yet, Mandus discovers his children are missing and other hallucinations and terrible sounds haunt him while he desperately seeks to rescue his children. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs allows players to play and witness prior events mixed with present missions to discover more about Mandus, his profession and what horrible deeds he may have performed in his dreadful past. The game doesn't focus on horror as much as the original Amnesia, but it does feature a good storyline told through snippets and clues scattered around the world of 1899 London. There is still plenty of scares to be sure, but Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs focuses less on the scary pig monsters in front of Mandus and more on the horrific revelation of the monster within.
Gameplay in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is slow-paced and deliberate. Creepy environments and chilling sound design help immerse players in a scary atmosphere where it seems as though something could jump out to scare the player at any given time throughout the game's campaign. A good majority of the game is spent searching for important items littered through dark hallways and in rooms that could contain helpful items or a monster ready to rip out the player's jugular. Puzzles are a huge part of the game as well, but they aren't designed nearly as well as some of the best horror games and are often repetitive and more of an annoyance that deters away from the horror in the game rather than providing entertaining segments to give players a breather. For example, one puzzle will have players searching dark corridors and rooms for a replacement fuse, while the very next level will have a puzzle that asks for the same exact task. Other puzzles require turning valves and pulling handles in a correct order that ultimately doesn't feel as much like a puzzle as a guessing game until the right order is determined. The lasting impression of the game's puzzle design will leave players wanting to turn them off in the options menu rather than play through them, especially after completing the game for the first time.
Many objects in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs are interactive including nearly every desk and cabinet drawer, levers and valves and doors, although many doors in the game cannot be entered. While this is nothing new for the series, many things have changed including regenerative health and a lamp that has an infinite supply of oil. The player will not need to worry about running out of a light source and finding themselves lost in the dark, and some of the tension this created in the original game is now completely gone. Also gone is a combat mechanic that had players grow crazy when setting eyes on an enemy, and the sanity meter has been removed from the game as well. These features were a vital part of what made the original Amneisa so unique, and it's a shame they have been removed in an attempt to attract a new audience for Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Luckily, combat hasn't changed much, meaning players will need to sneak past or hide from enemies in the dark and turn off the lantern to prevent being found and killed with no good options for overcoming these terrifying monsters.Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is still scary to be sure, but the many changes in how the game plays makes it much less so when compared with the original release.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a good looking game that provides plenty of spooky environments to go along with scary character models. The new location of London provides a good city to explore for the horror title, but some of the fear is lost numerous times through the game when players are able to exit a building and walk around safely in the moonlight of the London streets. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is best when it uses a combination of its spooky soundtrack from award-winning composer Jessica Curry and plenty of great sound effects to make players uneasy when walking around each corner or opening a door while loud noises and weird sounds can be heard all around. The game also features great voice acting including the voiceover from Mandus, his two sons and the voice that guides Mandus through the game known as the Engineer. Together, these elements combine with a compelling storyline to make a fun game with that isn't as scary as it could be but is still worth seeing through until the end.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs isn't exactly the game fans were expecting. The title features a grander storyline from developer The Chinese Room like should be expected from the Dear Esther creators, but the game ultimately sacrifices many key survival horror elements in order to be relevant to more gamers. The game is still scary, and the pig monsters that haunt the dark buildings in the game is more than enough to give players nightmares, but the game is also far from the scariest survival horror title around. Still it's worth a look for fans of the genre or PC fans wanting to see what is next for the infamous franchise. Turn the lights off and get ready to be spooked in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs now on Steam.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is now available for $19.99 and can be purchased PC, Mac and Linux via Steam, GOG and other major digital retailers. For more information on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, check out the official Frictional Games website.
Developer: The Chinese Room
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Mac & Linux
Release Date: September 10, 2013