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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.5.8


Amnesia: The Dark Descent
February 20, 2011 | Ted Bade
Pages:12Gallery


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Intro Screen

Requirements:
Mac OS X: 10.5.8 |†CPU: 2.0 GHz Intel Processor | RAM: 1 GB | HD Space: 2 GB Graphics:†Radeon 9600/GeForce 4 (GeForce4MX not supported)

Review:
Amnesia: The Dark Descent from Frictional Games is a graphic adventure game with a serious thriller twist. Graphic and auditory effects are orchestrated together composing the somewhat scary and very dark environment that you must interact with to solve the gameís puzzles. While the game isnít terribly difficult to solve, it does have its challenging moments. The most difficult challenge of all is trying to keep the main character sane enough to survive until the end of the game.

In most graphic adventures you need to understand the environment and the history of the role you are playing. Amnesia adds an interesting twist. The main character, Daniel, has had something happen to him, making him totally forget what is going on. Early on in the game he finds a note from his previous self that provides just a little information. It is the purpose of the game to try to understand the rest.

Amnesia takes place in a dark Victorian castle in a part of the world where it often rains and has a lot of lightning storms. Opaque windows flash and thunder crashes outside. The game takes place somewhere in the mid-nineteenth century. The only lights are from candles, torches, and lanterns, which flicker and dance in the drafts, creating moving shadows (or is there some creature following you?).

As you move through the game you appear to be alone, although there are sounds which make you think otherwise. Creaks in the floor boards above you, distant sounds of screams, cries, or odd animal sounds, as well as an integrated music track, all blend to create a creepy environment. But are the sounds real or only in Danielís imagination?

The game prompts you into action by providing basic goals, which boil down to getting to some new location and learning snippets of the true story. As you travel, you find notes and journal entries that provide small slices of information. Additionally, certain locations trigger flashbacks of memory, which provide more information as well as cues as to what actions you might need to take. The flashbacks are auditory only and apply to the area just entered.

This game doesnít let you stand and fight any enemies, but directs you to run and/or hide. There are one or more monsters in this game, that will kill the main character if you let them. Watch the text provided by the game, it often points out your best course of action. While hiding in the dark might seem to be a good solution, you find that Danielís sanity quickly deteriorates when in the dark too long. Running is usually an option, although you might not run fast enough. If you do manage to die, you are brought back to a point just before the interaction and given a new opportunity to survive. Text on the screen as the game reloads suggest useful strategies. At one junction, after dying four times in a row, on the firth return I carefully crawled along, but never encountered the monster. Was it luck or is the game lenient to dummies?

Besides objects you pick up to complete certain tasks, you also find ďtinder boxesĒ which are used one time to light a candle, torch, or lamp (think match), as well as oil for a lantern you find. The lantern you carry with you and can turn on or off as needed. The other lighting sources are stationary. While there are a lot of tinder boxes to be found, there is not enough to light everything. So you soon learn to conserve them, lighting area you might have need to stay in for a while.

The lantern uses oil quickly. Jars of oil are a bit more rare then tinder boxes. Again, conservation is useful. All too often I found myself leaving the lantern on, then hearing it run out of oil just as I need to enter an entended dark area. Luckily, there are a few canisters of oil located around which will fill the lantern. Somehow, these canisters will refill if you manage to use up all your oil. So it is a good idea to remember where they are located.

There are two major statistics your character must maintain, health and sanity. Light plays an important role in maintaining sanity. If you keep Daniel in the dark for too long his sanity quickly begins to fade. This is realized by increased scary sounds and a distinct distortion of what you see. This game does a great job in providing distorted imagery, simulating what a person who is very scared or only on the edge of sanity might see. The scenes fluctuate, as if pulsing of their own, the focus of the scene changes into and out of focus, and waves of distortion make it hard to understand what you are seeing. Along with this, Danielís breath rasps and shudders, and there is a sound as if the blood in your temples pulses with fear. Very cool effects, which can be disconcerting enough to the player to make it harder to actually think through the game!



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