Frictional Games' first Amnesia game in 10 years is here in the form of Amnesia: Rebirth which can aptly be described as decent.
It's hard to put into perspective how important Amnesia: The Dark Descent was to the entire horror video game genre. In an age when publishers were slowly veering their franchises away from traditional survival horror games into more action horror formulas, the first Amnesia was something that stood out as truly unique. This was a game with scares that came from its atmosphere and didn't even give you an option to fight back against its monsters. So much as looking at them could kill you which felt like a giant middle finger to other survival horror games of the time like Resident Evil 5 and even the first Dead Space to a certain extent. It would ultimately take the industry a few more years for a few other similar games to be released which revived gamers' faith in horror games and the foundation was arguably set with Amnesia: The Dark Descent. After 10 long years, we finally have a direct sequel to the game that started it all.
Amnesia: Rebirth takes place roughly 100 years after the events of The Dark Descent. You play as Anastasie "Tasi" Trianon who is making her way to colonial Africa for an expedition with her team and husband Salim. Unfortunately, en route to her destination, their plane crashes under mysterious circumstances. You awaken only to find that a significant amount of time has passed and you begin to follow the trail that Tasi's companions left behind during their initial journey from the wreckage. Along the way, you discover what became of your team, why Tasi can't remember anything, and the story behind the horrific creatures that caused the crash.
If there's one thing that Amnesia: Rebirth has going for it, it's that it creates a constant atmosphere of tension and unease. You can go hours without encountering a single monster yet the atmosphere still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat in a state of constant suspense. Walking a short distance in a cave can be just as terrifying as a walk through a hall full of monsters thanks to the lighting and subtle sound effects which constantly instill a feeling of dread. You're never entirely sure what awaits you around any corner and as your fear increases, you never know exactly when it will cause you to black out and lose your progress. This is helped by the environment designs that may be seemingly mundane yet are all crafted to create a strong sense of unease.
Some of Amnesia: Rebirth's scariest moments are when you see something ahead of you that looks slightly off and the suspense is beyond nerve-racking before discovering what it actually is. When you finally encounter monsters, it feels like the cherry on top of a heart attack sundae. If nothing else, this is all sure to get your heart racing as you take each step while discovering the world's dark secrets.
This is further helped by the fact that Tasi is an otherwise sympathetic protagonist as she's a little bit on the unmemorable side but you get an overall sense that she and the other characters definitely don't deserve what's happening to them. As a result, you're a bit more invested in seeing her get out of the situation alive as opposed to some other horror game characters who might be asking for it. In other words, you get the sense that Tasi is a woman who (quite literally) crashed into a horrific situation.
The downside to Amnesia: Rebirth is that, for as fun and terrifying as it is, none of it is as interesting or as scary as its predecessor. The twists and turns that come into Tasi's tale lack the same punch to the gut as Daniel's had in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The whole thing just feels a lot less disturbing and goes for a more existential type of dread as opposed to its predecessor's more personal horror and it simply isn't as effective. In addition, the actual explanation as to why Tasi cannot remember anything is fairly predictable and I found myself guessing where this was going several hours before the end credits rolled. Eventually, the story begins to explain where things like the orbs, darkness, and ghouls from the first game came from and, like the twists with Tasi, it's all profoundly underwhelming.
Amnesia: Rebirth is a decent horror game yet it suffers from underwhelming and predictable payoffs. It simply isn't as good as its predecessor so if you're going into it expecting something as good as Amnesia was 10 years ago; you're going to be disappointed. Otherwise, it's a good horror game that will scratch whatever itch you have for virtual frights.
- + Creates a consistently frightening atmosphere from start to finish
- + Sympathetic protagonist
- + Terrifying monster encounters
- - Not as memorable or as hard-hitting as its predecessor
- - Underwhelming payoffs