How do you know if a horror game is well done? Surely not by the size of the textures or the quality of the three-dimensional models, otherwise Resident Evil 6 would be a masterpiece.
Let's put it this way: if while playing you find yourself walking crouched, trying not to make a noise, even if you don't actually know the effects of the noise on your enemies, if you sip every step looking around every corner before moving, if you prefer to walk to the dark for fear that the light will attract some creature, even if it is not said that there are creatures around, if each new place to cross puts on an inexpressible anguish, a sense of oppression that can become so strong as to force you to give up the controls for a few moments, if you spend a lot of time standing in the shadows without being able to move a step after hearing a sinister noise coming from who knows where, if at every safe refuge you breathe a deep sigh of relief, as if you were a god. survivors of a shipwreck; in short, if all, or even some, of the situations described above occur, then there is a very good chance of finding yourself in front of a work that is keeping what it promises: to be scary. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a perfect horror machine. The new title of Frictional Games and The Chinese Room (Dear Esther) restarts exactly where we left off the first Amnesia, that is, from the dark, never so black and distressing, and from the desire to affirm all those qualities that had so bewitched thousands of gamers . We are not talking about the plot, completely different from that of The Dark Descent, but about a real conception of horror that has made school, bringing the genre back to the roots of survival horror while taking advantage of the first person.
Never as in this period there are valid alternatives for lovers of horror games on PC. We limit ourselves to reporting three very recent ones. The first is the survival Outlast, released a few days before A Machine for Pigs and certainly worth a try, even if less refined than the title of The Chinese Room. The game mechanics are very similar, with a helpless protagonist who must survive hunted inside an asylum. The second title is the exploratory adventure Gone Home, a short and intense experience that has obtained a lot of acclaim around the world. Finally, we also throw in Slender: The Arrival, which we didn't particularly like, but which is certainly indicative of a very widespread trend in the contemporary horror genre.
Shades of black
As in the previous episode, the plot starts with amnesia. The protagonist, a rich bourgeois living in Victorian England, wakes up in a kind of cage in the throes of strong dizziness. After recovering, freed, it is not clear by whom, he sets out in search of his children, who have disappeared who knows where. It is night, and the immense mansion in which he lives seems possessed by forces beyond human understanding. Don't worry, we won't go into too much detail about the story, because it is one of the strong points of the game. Paradoxically, we cannot even tell you too much about the first hours of the adventure, so as not to give you information that would risk ruining them. Just know that it soon becomes clear that there is something unspeakable behind the disappearance of the children and that the protagonist will find himself trapped inside an immense allegory that he himself helped to create. Also know that the authors followed Lovecraft's lesson perfectly, explaining only partially what happens and leaving the supernatural on another plane, as if human limits prevented understanding what lies beyond the rational plane. The story itself is told through very classic means: ranging from slips of paper left around by various characters, never present on the scene, to gramophones on which small dialogues are recorded, up to micro-sequences that are triggered at certain moments, in where the protagonist hears voices that remind him of past events. The use of the telephone is interesting, through which we speak with a character whose identity will be discovered only much later in the adventure (when a couple of packs of diapers have been consumed). More than what happened in The Dark Descent, in A Machine for Pigs the scenario becomes an active element of the narrative. The construction of the various places and the progression with which one penetrates the mysteries they hide are managed with much more wisdom than that of the first chapter, just as their metaphorical impact on the general economy of the game is much stronger.
Let's explain better. The Dark Descent castle was, in fact, just a castle: well designed, full of interesting places, but basically a scenography. For A Machine for Pigs it's different. Without revealing too much, we can affirm that the individual places are part of an immense allegorical construction, which serves not only as a setting, but which also attempts to tell a model of society and the deviant mind of its architect. After all, we could not expect anything else from Dear Esther's father, Dan Pinchbeck, since his first work was above all an environmental story, a long walk inside the depression of a human being sculpted in places, before in the texts.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs puts tension at the heart of its gameplay and our review
Darkness to darkness
From the point of view of the gameplay, however, the relationship with the predecessor is really strong, so much so that we can talk more about some adjustments than real changes. Like the one in The Dark Descent, the protagonist of A Machine for Pigs is also essentially helpless in the face of evil. Throughout the game there are no usable weapons and we are limited to holding an electric lantern, which unlike the oil one in the first episode does not need refills to work. The ability to grab objects and carry them around while holding them, essential for solving puzzles, remained unchanged. There is no shortage of levers and strange machinery to activate, drawers to open and so on. In truth, there are never too complex puzzles to solve and the greatest difficulty is not being killed by the enemies (which we do not describe to you so as not to reveal some relevant details of the plot). Speaking of the graphic impact, beyond the thematic issues, it is easy to see that the dominant color is black. The few light sources present usually emit a dim light that barely delineates the places where you are. Even when walking outdoors, the atmosphere remains gloomy and oppressive. Attention, because it is not just a stylistic quirk. The presence of absolute darkness forces you to pull out the lantern to get light and examine the scenarios, too bad that the light attracts the creatures that infest the areas as money attracts politicians. So, imagine yourself crouching in the shadows and hiding behind a crate.
There is just an immense darkness ahead of you in which you cannot see anything. Your instincts would like you to take out your flashlight to light the way, but the growing sound of non-human footsteps around your hiding place terrifies you: what if by doing so I attract my death? Here, perhaps Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is told better through such situations, than in the mere listing of its characteristics. Even the technological side, therefore, rather than showing off a power that it does not have (it is not much better than that of The Dark Descent), chooses the path of narrative functionality and effectiveness, that is, it is bent to the needs of the story. As is also the case for the soundtrack, made above all of very pronounced noises and sounds, such as those of the machines in operation, sometimes used to cover the sounds of the enemies and create an even more marked tension. Music, present in some situations, is always used to emphasize particular moments and never covers the action. Above all, it never becomes preponderant, a sign of a certain compositional skill that takes into account all the elements that make up a video game and not just one's own.
PC System Requirements
- The editorial team uses the ASUS CG8250 Personal Computer
- Processore Intel Core i7-3770K @ 3.50GHz
- 16 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX680 video card
- Operating system: Windows Vista / 7/8
- Processor: High-end Intel Core i3 / AMD A6 CPU or equivalent.
- RAM: 1 GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 200 / AMD Radeon HD 5000 mid-range graphics card. Intel HD integrated graphics card usable but not supported, issues often resolved via driver updates.
- Disk space: 5GB
- DirectX: 9.0c
- Processor: High-end Intel Core i5 / AMD FX CPU or equivalent.
- RAM: 4 GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 400 / AMD Radeon HD 6000 high-end graphics card. Intel HD integrated graphics card usable but not supported, issues often resolved by driver updates.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs does what it promises: creating tension beyond belief. It doesn't differ much from its predecessor in terms of gameplay mechanics. Indeed, we can say that the developers have paid very little attention to change them and have preferred to simply retouch them, distributing some elements differently. That doesn't change the fact that you are glued to the adventure from start to finish, experiencing a mixture of incredible feelings. The tension is very high right from the start and remains high even in the final. The puzzles, all of a mechanical nature, are well linked to the narrative context. Perhaps they are slightly simpler than the ones in The Dark Descent, but you don't notice them as busy as you are peering into the shadows. Surely we are faced with a high-level work that must be played absolutely if you love horror, despite the fact that in recent years the competition has become more ruthless. Moreover, the purchase price is really affordable (we are talking about just € 15,99). Well, what are you still doing here? Didn't you understand that there is no excuse not to buy it?
- Exceptional atmosphere
- The scenario is built with great wisdom
- Great use of sounds
- The game mechanics are in fact the same as in the previous episode
- Some collapse of framerates in some situations