If you are a horror gamer like me and enjoy the indie scene, chances are that you have heard of frictional games and their glorious skill to make us ruin good pairs of pants with horrifying atmosphere and terrifying games of hide and seek with monsters that want to repurpose your intestines as jumprope. From the Penumbra series to today, they have been behind the survival horror scene making games that chill gamers to the bone. If you don't know what I'm talking to you about, I'll sum it up for you. Take popular games like Dead Space and Doom. Monsters all over the place, evil creatures all over the place, just waiting to pop out of a closet and go "BOO"! In a sense, frictional games is just like that, except in their games, you can't defend yourself. You have no choice but to run and hide, which adds a level of venerability that games don't tend to have. This technique has earned them a ton of respect from the gamer community and their newest title Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, has been a highly anticipated title, being a direct sequel to their previous masterpiece Amnesia: The Dark Decent.
So what did I think of it? Well... It was good. Did I get what I waited three years for? I don't feel like it. Now I know I'm going to have a ton of people on my case about this, and I'm prepared to apologize for seeming like I didn't like the game. It actually is to the contrary. I LOVED the game. It was very good. However, it is very disappointing when I compare it to the sheer brilliance that was Amnesia: The Dark Decent, and here's why.
The gameplay in a sense had some upsides and downsides. The very bad and wrong thing they did this go round was almost nothing was intractable. I have these vast areas full of props I can't touch! Don't do that to me. It's a tease. Part of the brilliance in the previous game was having to search through piles of items for the one item and trying to find the puzzle piece that would advance me, whilst worrying about the monsters that might be hanging out right behind me. Here, it was not the case. I had very little stress working out where everything went because only puzzle pieces could be picked up. Nothing else.
However, they did do some pretty wonderful things with the game. First off, they added controller support. That was a particular blessing as I had a lot more fun playing with the controller then playing with my mouse and keyboard. Another cool element of gameplay they did was the electric lantern. Unlike the previous games by Frictional Games, you do not run out of batteries/oil in this game, you can have your light on all you like. However, it flickers when monsters are nearby and gives away your location. It did a better job of actually providing up and downsides to using it. I know a big problem was I always had life left in my lantern when I was trying to hide from monsters, but when I needed light for the puzzle, it would just be gone. The final improvement in my opinion was doing away with the inventory system. I felt it was an interesting feel of having to carry items around manually in the game rather then storing them in the classic video game black hole pockets. With this game, I felt a level of intensity, having to carry a key item through the game while having a monster on me. I just wished they had me carry items and try to solve puzzles whist hiding from the bad guys more often.
However, I have been hesitant to write this, because I happen to love the games that Frictional Games and The Chinese Room make. They are both wonderful developers and they seemed to have put in great levels of detail in the game and story. I am actually refraining from explaining the story because I would definitely spoil any aspects of the wonderful tale it is. However, I will say this, the game was short. I sat down eagerly awaiting a story three years in the making and got up a few hours later. In a sense, I feel ripped off! I loved the story which I guess constitutes the gold star, but I can't give it the respect I gave its predecessors. For example, take two baseball pitchers. One pitcher pitches all year and about three quarters of his games are good and a quarter of his games are utter crud. Now the next pitcher pitches perfectly... but only pitched one game. I guess statistically the second pitcher is better, but who would I really trust? I can't say the second one is better because it was one game, the other pitcher has been doing it longer. I feel that's the case with Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. A wonderful story that is better than the others, but it is SO much shorter. I didn't get as immersed because there weren't as many obstacles. After three years wait, I want to be in it for the long haul.
Forgive me for sounding harsh on this game. In no way is it actually bad from a first glance. However, with a company like Frictional Games, I feel that the standards are really high, in the aspect that they have built a complex of terrifying games and have always done so well. I would in the end, recommend this game to anyone who likes their work. It obviously is still ten times more terrifying than any AAA horror game you may come across. You can pick it up today on steam for $19.99.