Monday 5 October 2020

Amnesia: The Dark Descent / Justine

The dark is your frenemy.

Waking up in an old castle inhabited only by terrifying monsters with no way to fight back, you only choice is to sneak around while solving puzzles and collecting stuff with a few heart pounding chase sequences thrown in for good measure. Annoyingly, you need to sit still in the dark to hide from the enemies and the main kicker is... you can't look at them. The more you look at them, the more they "see" you so expect a few good minutes of this to be crouching in a dark corner staring at the wall.

Of course, your protagonist is also going insane and staying in the dark makes him lose more sanity making him really sluggish to control. Curing this is simple: turn on your lamp, light up a candle, or simply stand in a brightly lit place. While the story is decent, it doesn't do much to explain why some required puzzle bits are scattered in really far apart areas (and not destroyed in some cases) other than to simply make it harder for you. That aside, this game does horror really well - especially the first time you encounter the water monsters. Damn.

All sorts of scary stuff in this game!

While the enemies in The Dark Descent cheat somewhat in that they spawn out of nowhere, this is less true in the much shorter but equally scary DLC called Justine which came bundled with the main game. In it, there are less hostiles, but there is no save function. Either you win in one run, or die and start from the beginning. This makes the choice of trying to save other NPCs trapped with you a true test as often you are sacrificing your own time to escape in the process. Personally, I let them all die and saved myself. :P

Definitely one for fans of horror games, but for everyone else the main game is really oppressive. By that I mean even I could only play in short bursts. Backtracking in a horror setting is quite draining. I actually prefer Justine to it, simply because it is more "fair" and the length is perfect. As it comes as a package I have to rate it as one item though, and give it 3.5 memory artifacts out of 5.

Insight: Keep a mental map and plan on dark rooms to run back to for hiding purposes. Also, when exploring a room - shut the door behind you to prevent wanderers getting the drop on you.

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