Cool things: Amnesia



Back in 2010, around the time of my 33rd birthday (the last time I had fun on my birthday, indeed), I got hold of a game that I’m sure “female best friend” is glad she didn’t stick around to watch me play (since she even finds Ghostbusters scary).  It’s a game made by a small group of Swedes that somehow manages to be the single most terrifying experience in vidya game history.  A game that could even scare me, a veteran of “survival horror” games such as Dead Space and Call of Cthulhu, as well as horror movies from Hellraiser to Ring.

Yes, it’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the game in which you have no weapons, no fighting skills, no defence against the monsters other than to run and hide.  The plot is thus: you are a 19th-century English gentleman and you wake up in a creepy Prussian castle, with no memory of how you got there, only to find a note from yourself urging you to gain entry to the castle’s inner sanctum and kill an evil man before it’s too late — because something is following you…

No, it’s not the Gatherers, the evil man’s barely-human minions which occasionally appear (especially when you least expect it), though they’ll certainly hunt you down if you’re foolish enough to announce your presence.  Nor is it the invisible thing in the flooded basement, which you can only detect by the splashes it makes in the water.  No, something elemental is closing in on you, and you know it’s getting close when a cosmic scream echoes across a seemingly-impossible distance, and flesh begins appearing on the walls…

Darkness in this game drives you slowly insane — you start to hear your teeth grinding, and you begin hallucinating — so you have to light candles and lamps, and keep your lantern filled with oil.  But watch out, the shambling Gatherers can see you in the light, so hide in the shadows and hope they wander off before you lose your mind.  And don’t stare at the creatures, because the very sight of them also drives you mad!  But don’t get too eager to move on when they’ve gone, because what’s that sound

There are three particularly scary chases in this game where you daren’t look back — the first when you run from the invisible “water lurker”, slamming doors behind you only to hear it crashing through them (I needed a break after that), the second when you think you’ve distracted a “Brute” Gatherer by throwing a stone, only to hear it howling after you (it caught me in one playthrough and I screamed like a girl), and the third when the Shadow, the elemental force that needs to consume you in order to restore balance in the Universe, begins pursuing you through the halls

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I use some of the incidental music and sound effects from this game as alarm sounds on my smartphone, to wake me up in the morning with an adrenaline rush!

Here’s a compilation of various people’s YouTube videos, complete with them screaming in terror (warning: bad language and variable picture quality ahead!).  But the only way to really experience it is to play… in a dark room, with headphones on, when the house is empty… or is it?

5 thoughts on “Cool things: Amnesia

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