One of the most terrifying video games ever made comes to Nintendo Switch but is Amnesia: The Dark Descent still the king of survival horror?
When people argue over what is the scariest game of all time we never join in. As far as were concerned there is no argument, its Amnesia: The Dark Descent. There are other games that have equally terrifying moments, but once Frictional Games classic get its hooks into you they stay there; as it begins to tug at not just your nerves but your sanity. And all without any need to rely on jump scares or gore. The Dark Descent is a game that makes you wish you werent playing it, and we mean that in the best sense possible.
Before we get into the details we need to make it clear exactly what this collection is. It contains Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which was originally released on PC in 2010; its DLC expansion Justine; and 2013 sequel A Machine For Pigs. Getting all the games onto consoles has been a very slow process, with this collection appearing on PlayStation 4 in 2016, Xbox One in 2018, and now finally its available on Nintendo Switch.
Given The Dark Descent is 10 years old and originally very low budget means that the visual presentation is considerably less than state-of-the-art, even for a Switch game. But visual clarity has never been a requirement for horror, and in fact the opposite often helps.
As you might gather from the name, you begin The Dark Descent by waking up with every Japanese role-players favourite ailment: amnesia. As you take in your spooky castle surroundings youve no more idea of whats going on than the in-game character has. Especially when you find a letter that you seem to have written to yourself, telling you to murder someone youve never heard of (while assuring you that its okay, hes evil).
Within minutes youre being chased by what appears to be a living shadow, and there are some very worrying looking men (or are they creatures?) wandering around in the basement. So worrying in fact that if you look at them for too long, or you get stuck in the dark for an extended period of time, you start to go insane. Not being able to look at them properly is a master stroke on several levels, from the paranoia and dream-like panic it inspires to distracting you from the low-tech graphics.
The physics system though is more problematic, as the ability to grab and use objects in the world can be frustratingly fiddly. The majority of the time it works though and the system is actually a cleverly versatile one, allowing you to interact with everything via a single intuitive control system. It also allows for some moderately complex physics puzzles, which help fill out the gameplay without seeming too incongruous.
But The Dark Descent is a horror game first and foremost, and one that realises that the more vulnerable you are the more scared you get. There is no way to fight back against most of the enemies in this game, and while running away and hiding might not sound like the most exciting gameplay mechanic, here it becomes as tense and exciting as any action game.
The Dark Descent was never perfect – the voice-acting is mediocre and the ending was doomed never to be satisfying, since the game is much more interesting when youre inventing your own theories as to what is going on. But despite these problems, and the obviously aged graphics, its power is largely undiminished on Switch. And its great that Frictional has also included the oft-forgotten DLC, which follows a completely different protagonist and scenario.
What is more disappointing than ever though is A Machine For Pigs. Frictional only played the role of overseer for the follow-up, and instead it was developed by Everybodys Gone To The Rapture creators The Chinese Room. And true to form they stripped out almost all the gameplay from the original and turned it into a walking simulator. A very scary walking simulator, with a much more involved storyline than the original, but still a game with very little in the way of actual gameplay.
The Dark Descent is all about the journey, while A Machine For Pigs is more concerned with ensuring the destination is worth reaching. But in a video game thats a problem, because it means that much of the actual act of playing the game isnt much fun. Ditching most of the puzzles and not having to worry about the oil supply in your lantern is one thing, but A Machine For Pigs even gets rid of the sanity meter, which seems… insane.
In terms of horror though A Machine For Pigs is still extremely effective, and understands that your mind will create imagined details far more horribleRead More – Source