|release date||October 2020|
The Amnesia series is a landmark for the horror genre. Developing the ideas of Penumbra, the developers from Frictional Games created a separate game direction, where the key elements were the study of locations and hiding a helpless hero from monsters. In 2010, Amnesia: The Dark Descent struck the players with a viscous gloomy atmosphere of gothic horror, where the hero explored the nooks and crannies of an old castle. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was a reflection of the fear of the bloody future of the industrial age. And SOMA presented a dark vision of the future with reflection on the essence of the self-consciousness of a living being. And now, after a while, the authors decided to return to the old series and presented Amnesia: Rebirth.
The events of the third part take place in the 30s of the XX century. The plane with the expedition crashes somewhere in the sands of Algiers. We find ourselves in the role of Anastasia Trianon, who wakes up in a crashed plane with expected amnesia. It seems that the tragedy happened recently, but the rolling fragments of memories make it clear that a number of events have occurred since the catastrophe. And we follow the story path, gradually restoring the overall picture.
At first, the game is perceived unusually because of the bright light environment. But very quickly we wander into caves that lead us to the more familiar dark corridors that are an essential attribute of Amnesia. The abandoned camp, dead bodies and notes tell us that the survivors have undergone severe trials. And the further we go, the more signs of the mystical presence of dark forces. Exploring the caves, we open portals to another dimension, find a fort with dead soldiers, encounter monsters and ancient mechanisms. Along the way, the heroine recalls the events of her past, associated with other losses and the bitterness of loss, realizing the fact of her pregnancy.
The game skillfully creates an oppressive feeling of loneliness, when everything around looks empty and abandoned. The setting speaks of the recent presence of humans, but now we are greeted by empty buildings and hunched, desiccated corpses. Studying household items and examining houses, you feel a certain connection with reality and the present. But then something strange and mystical happens, blurring the boundaries of perception and reinforcing the feeling of hopelessness. A lonely pregnant heroine confronts this formidable unknown, desperately clinging to life in an attempt to save the child.
Anxiety and loneliness are replaced by the usual fear of the dark, when we are immersed in dark corridors and rooms. In conditions of zero visibility, we try to illuminate the surrounding area with matches and a flashlight, or we wait until our vision gets used to the darkness. The familiar rules apply here, when a long immersion in darkness and the observation of dead bodies hits the psyche hard and unbalances the heroine. And although these techniques are well known, from time to time the game makes you shrink into a chair, anxiously listening to the surrounding sounds during the next descent through a dark tunnel.
The game has a number of conventions, such as a limited number of matches and the rapid consumption of lamp oil. Also, you cannot carry torches with you, which ties us to certain points on the location where you can turn on the light. And while thoughtful level design hints at where to go and turn, in conditions of dense darkness you will definitely encounter a situation where you can get lost in the «three pines».
Playing on fears, Amnesia: Rebirth does not put the heroine’s life in direct danger for a long time. The first encounters with monsters are a frightening shadow in the corridor or hands in the opening. We are gradually being prepared for the moment when we will have to face the creature of the night one on one. And then you have to rush along the corridors as fast as you can, looking for a way out or shelter.
At the same time, the game does not allow you to fully die and, after a rapid kaleidoscope of visions, returns to life. This game convention is well inscribed in the meaning of what is happening. If you want to get a good ending, try to avoid deaths.
Horror is not tied to monsters, although such moments give a certain adrenaline rush and make you nervous. Rebirth captivates with its atmosphere and play on contrasts, when loneliness in the desert is replaced by anxiety in dark halls. It is not sudden screamers that are remembered here, but the first immersion in a different reality with an ancient city shrouded in dust or a feeling of anxiety in an extinct fort.
Periodically, it is required to interact with objects, look for some details and components, combine them with a certain mechanism. There are few complex tasks, for example, to assemble a shell for a cannon or to start an ancient mechanism. But they are made in an interesting and understandable way, without much slowing down the pace of the game. The rest of the time we open doors, throw things, move things, and turn valves.
Visual performance and competent sound design play an important role. The game is based on an improved SOMA engine — HPL3.5 Engine. For the first time, developers show us open spaces, and the engine is quite capable of this.
Dark corridors can not surprise anything, but the play of light and glare in some scenes looks pretty.
The graphics are not outstanding, but the system requirements are modest. For Full HD, budget video cards are enough; GeForce RTX 2060 Super can handle 4K.
Amnesia: Rebirth is a great continuation of the series that inherits familiar elements but delivers them in a new setting. Instead of gothic horror, we have a story about survival in the desert, filled with mythology and mysticism. The story develops around a personal drama and the theme of motherhood, forcing the player to empathize with the heroine, and along the way immerses us in the world of ancient secrets. The only pity is that the lion’s share of information is supplied through text and hand-drawn screensavers. There is a cool viscous atmosphere and skillfully pumped anxiety, which at peak moments gives rise to real fear. Amnesia: Rebirth develops more rapidly than the previous parts, only occasionally falling into mournful walking through dark corridors. The game often changes the scenery and puts forward new conditions, forcing you to periodically solve new game tasks. But it’s still a «walking simulator» without action scenes and an abundance of screamers, which will scare away the mainstream player.