HomeReviews4.5/5 ReviewAmnesia: The Bunker Review

Amnesia: The Bunker Review

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I had to think twice about whether to play Amnesia: The Bunker or not. This wasn’t because I didn’t want it, but rather the memories of when I played the first game in the series and nearly pooped my pants. Several times.

Yes, Amnesia: The Bunker is the latest instalment in the series and by now you should know exactly what to expect. This time around you are thrown into the epicentre of World War I trench warfare, and it’s just as grim as you would imagine. Henri Clément is your name, and things kick off with you desperately trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire or by German soldiers searching for any remaining signs of life on the battlefield.

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The thrills of Amnesia: The Bunker

Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse as you end up in the titular bunker. The abandoned underground labyrinth is dark, dingy and holds plenty of clues as to the events which preceded your arrival. You’ll discover many files and journals, which chronicle the horrific goings on in the bunker. However, before long you’ll come to realise you aren’t exactly alone down there.

 I must say, it’s a brilliant setting for an Amnesia game. So many elements lend themselves to the horror genre, and there’s an incredibly strong theme of isolation which runs through the game. Arguably, it’s the first hour or so which proves to be the most terrifying. 

You’re seemingly trapped, alone and have no idea where to go. You also have very little to defend yourself with. Unfortunately, your torch is one of the wind up variety, and so you have to sacrifice a stealthy approach if you want to shine some light on the situation, so to speak. This in itself is a simple but effective way of ramping up the tension.

Make too much noise and you’ll hear scuttling, groaning and all sorts of other horrible noises. Dust will fall seconds after movement, and you’ll notice lots of holes at the bottoms of the walls which look like they were caused by something much more than your usual pest. That’s right, you’ve got company and it knows its way around a lot better than you do.

The worst thing about the beginning of your first playthrough is you have no idea what the creature looks like. You also haven’t learned how to track its movements properly, which creates a genuinely terrifying opening segment of play. It’s that fear of the unknown which Amnesia: The Bunker levers really effectively. It doesn’t take too long until you find the administration room, which is effectively a safe room. You better believe I locked the doors behind me each and every time I went in there.

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Going deep into Amnesia: The Bunker

I’m not sure if it was pure coincidence, or by design, but the creature emerged as I was heading there for the first time, and as I ran for my life I could hear it stomping along behind me. It felt as if I just about made it to safety and my heart was actually thumping. I ended up taking a few minutes to gather my composure. This is why I’m such a fan of the series, because in those moments especially, it’s unmatched by any other horror game.

The success of just how well Amnesia: The Bunker nails its target genre is down to numerous elements. Firstly, the setup. Tucked away in the safe room is a generator which, when running, lights up most of the bunker. However, it needs fuel to run and, you guessed it, the stuff is in short supply and dotted all over. You will have an idea of how long the lights will stay on thanks to your trusty stopwatch, pitting you against the clock each time you venture out to explore the many nooks and crannies of the bunker.

When the generator is running low, the lights start flickering and if it runs dry, dimmed red emergency lights come on. This is when the creature is most likely to emerge. You’re then thrown into peril, as you have to quietly find your way back to safety in the pitch dark, trying to remember your way back. Is it worth risking the noisy dynamo torch, or just slowly crawling to safety? These are the decisions you will have to make. There is a map of the bunker available to you, but it’s stuck to the wall in the safe room and you can’t access it from anywhere else. 

The first person viewpoint makes things feel more intimate, and puts you closer to the terror. Resources are scarce, and it wouldn’t be a horror game unless you had limited inventory space. Bullets are extremely scarce, but can ward the creature off for a short time as a last ditch defence. You may sometimes decide the only way to survive is to leg it, and you can, but the noise will attract the creature who will most likely decide to chase you. So knowing where you are going in this scenario is usually best because if you hadn’t guessed by now, you can’t kill the cursed thing.

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Keep an eye on that clock

As well as being sh*t scary, Amnesia: The Bunker looks absolutely brilliant. But what impresses most is the use of lighting. For example, when the power is running low and the lights flicker, you’ll sometimes see a static glimpse of the creature at the end of a corridor which is absolutely spine-chilling. In fact, it’s downright cinematic.

What complements the visuals is the brilliant use of sound. Not only do you have to minimise the noise you make, but also listen out carefully for the creature. Whether it’s above you, behind you or somewhere in the distance you will need to train your ears on how to track it, and get an approximate idea of where the gruesome so and so is when there’s no way of actually seeing it (often until it’s too late). Your heart will start to beat when it gets closer too, with the pace slowly rising as it draws nearer which is enough to make your blood run cold. It’s hair raising stuff, and one wrong move will see you end up in the creature’s clutches as you helplessly watch Henri get ripped to pieces.

Throughout my entire playthrough, the combination of the many tricks Amnesia: The Bunker has up its sleeve meant I was genuinely sweating after a few hours of playing, thanks to how bloody terrifying and stressful it is. Or maybe that was just the humidity during the current heatwave.

Despite taking its toll, I never found the game tipped into frustration territory. It’s recommended you play on the normal difficulty, but even here you’ll die a fair few times. However, that’s not really an issue thanks to there being no limit on how many times you can save; albeit only from the safe room. Rather than rationing out saves like many other horror games, doing the opposite is definitely the correct decision here. It gives you more freedom to tackle things in the way you wish, and reduces the probability of you losing chunks of progress at a time, and switching off rather than repeating segments of the game.

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Will you survive?

The creature’s movements are randomised which will keep you on your toes, and the puzzles are intuitive and make sense, so it isn’t too difficult to figure out what to do next. They will get you thinking, but are unlikely to leave you stumped. This means the pacing is pretty spot on in Amnesia: The Bunker, and despite dreading what is lurking around every corner, it’s difficult to put down.

If I had one criticism, it’s that the environment isn’t as open world and experimental as claimed. Yes, there are different ways to approach objectives and dealing with the creature, but we’re not talking at a sandbox level. In terms of gameplay, it’s still pretty linear. That’s not a problem as such, but it does limit the replayability of what is a relatively short game. But hey, it’s one hell of a ride whilst it lasts.

I really enjoyed my time with Amnesia: The Bunker, and its many parts add up to a truly terrifying experience. Despite this, I didn’t want it to end and despite a final act that didn’t quite fit, I loved every second. If you’re looking for a truly frightening experience, you’ll struggle to find one that curdles your blood better than this.

Amnesia: The Bunker is ahead of the class, achieving what many of its peers aspire to but often fall short of. If you’re a horror fan, this is a must play.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • It’s bloody terrifying
  • Masterful use of lighting and sound effects
  • Unpredictable creature AI
  • Well paced gameplay
Cons:
  • Limited replayability
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Frictional Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 6 June 2023 | £20.99
Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards
I have been playing games since a very early age, thanks to my Dad's encouragement. I've been an Xbox gamer since the very beginning, the Master Chief is to thank for that. I'm also a big Nintendo geek, and my other half is a PlayStation nut. I'll play pretty much anything in any genre (although FIFA and COD maybe pushing it).
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>It’s bloody terrifying</li> <li>Masterful use of lighting and sound effects</li> <li>Unpredictable creature AI</li> <li>Well paced gameplay</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Limited replayability</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Frictional Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 6 June 2023 | £20.99</li> </ul>Amnesia: The Bunker Review
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