I’ve always loved neat little game compilation packages.
I remember The Orange Box back in the day with five of the very best games ever to be released on one lovely disc – there was hours of entertainment included in one bundle.
Since then it’s become a regular occurrence for developers to re-release their games with all the old content included, labelling it as a ‘Game of the Year’ edition. And it is one big package we are seeing now with the release of the Amnesia Collection. The Amnesia games were always something that I’ve looked at from afar, never having the chance to experience. So with this delightful package of three games in one it could be said that I was excited to experience what this horror world had to offer. But did it make me hide behind the sofa, or roll my eyes in a weird mocking manner?
Amnesia has always been a great trope for any writer to use, especially if they want the protagonist to be on the same journey as the member of the audience playing or watching. It’s used a lot and back in 2010 when this game was originally released on PC you were left to wake up in a dark room, to then try to work out how you got here and more importantly how you would get out…
This is the first time the games have been released on Xbox though and in the Amnesia Collection we are being treated to the first game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the Justine DLC that was released to expand it, and the sequel – Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Some critics have heralded the first game as one of the scariest games ever made and it is that which has spawned and influenced a hundred horror games by other developers.
In the first title – one that can only be described as a 1st person action adventure horror game – you are left to move about a house, exploring the secrets it has throughout. There’s the opportunity to jump should you so wish, you can move objects about and, if necessary, can run. I promise you right now, you will be doing a lot of the latter. But there’s no attack option and there’s no nifty combat to be had – and this is why Amnesia differs from others. Instead you find yourself needing to stay in the light – if only to keep yourself sane – and that’s where some old school inventory management comes in to play. See, you have tinderboxes that will light candles and lamps in the rooms, but these are limited. You also find a lantern early on, but this needs a steady supply of oil before it all goes dark. You’ll want to use these things wisely because you see, you’re going to need that light to ensure you get to keep away from something that is following you… something that is not very friendly.
When you happen to stumble upon a note from yourself telling you to murder someone who was your mentor, then you know that this is most definitely a strange world that you’re inhabiting – one in which you are hunted by your own living shadow. But is it all real or in your mind? Like the best horrors the game asks loads of questions and ensures that you will be left wondering why things are what they are and who you are on this chessboard. It has a great story and a wonderful atmosphere throughout, employing a special technique whereby if you spot a shadow or something horrible, then you can’t look at it. If you do the world distorts in a truly terrifying way. Take my advice – hide in a nearby cupboard and wait until Christmas.
The game feels very dated in its mechanics, especially when grabbing objects and in this day and age, it could have done with a bit of an overhaul. But the world it creates is very good and I loved every moment of my time with the initial game from this collection.
The second game plays out similarly, but runs as a sort of escape room DLC that really does need to be played in one sitting. It’ll only take you an hour to two to work though, running as more of the same. Again though, it all works very well with some ingenious puzzles to complete.
The final piece of the Amnesia Collection sees it ditch the original developers and was instead created by the ‘Everyone’s Gone to Rapture’ team. Strangely it gets rid of the light avoidance mechanics and inventory management, instead just letting you get on with taking in a journey from A to B really. Yes, it’s a little more in-depth than that, but with just some light puzzling along the way, it fails to live up to that found first time around. It’s certainly not as groundbreaking as the previous games.
Overall and the collection comes across as a bit old school and due to the nature of the gameplay can be very dark at times. The third game in the collection brings a better visual quality of the three, but the first certainly has some amazing effects on display, playing brilliantly with the distortion effect. The sound is very good through all three games though, building tension and utilising horror tropes throughout. The voiceover work is good too, embracing the cliche in a really solid way.
I have to say that I have really enjoyed this sparkling package of Amnesia experiences. The first is a must play for survival horror fans and you can see its influence on a ton of games that have released in the years after its initial launch. There are a decent amount of gameplay hours to have fun with in the Amnesia Collection as a whole and for the price, it’s a very good deal. Some gameplay mechanics will grate a bit and the visuals certainly aren’t of a modern 4K standard, but it’s the tension when you feel something breathing down your neck that you will remember the most.
In fact, you probably won’t sleep again. Ever.