Game Review: Amnesia A Machine For Pigs (PC)
When Amnesia: The Dark Descent was first released back in 2010, it scared the heck out of a lot of people. In fact, people even began uploading reaction videos of them playing the game, it was that popular! What particularly grabbed people in that game was its ambiance. For you see, Amnesia: The Dark Descent has one of the best ambiance work, which worked more then well with the cleverly designed setting. Everything was detailed and menacing. Basically put, it was a memorable game. Now, 3 years later, we finally have the sequel in our hands, entitled “A Machine For Pigs”.
A Machine For Pigs takes place 60 years after the terrifying events of the first game, and follows the story of a man called, “Oswald Mandus”; a wealthy Industrialist who one night, wakes up with a fever, having just experienced the most horrific dream he has ever had. Dreams about a dark and hellish engine. That night plunges Oswald into a living breathing nightmare, where if he doesn’t act fast, he might just lose his children. However, someone doesn’t want him getting to his children and has other plans for him.
Compared to the first game, you can see that a lot has been stripped down, in order to make it pure survival-horror rather then adventure horror. For example, this time around, there is no inventory where you see the stuff you have stored, and in fact, if you plan to use something, you’ll have to pick it up and bring it all the way to where it is required, as important items will not set up in your inventory. Another noticeable feature they have gone away with is the lamp fuel. Yes, that is right, this time you have a lamp that burns continuously and does not require you to find any oil or batteries to keep it lit up. I don’t mind the inventory bit myself, but the oil feature was one of the key reasons you would panic in the first game when it used to run out. Because of that, this time you don’t feel pressed to explore for more resources and manage them properly, but in a way, it plays well with the pace of the story as that is what the game really puts an emphasis on.
The game still mostly controls like the original, where you use your direction keys to walk, and mouse to pick up stuff, with a button to rotate them. The physics are very well done with this game, allowing you to pick some objects and throw them around! My only gripe is that it doesn’t really do much gameplay wise, and is limited in scope when compared to the first game. You can’t even pick up barrels to block doors or anything anymore. In the first game, blocking doors allowed you some time to escape and hide from the enemy, while in this game, those scenarios are rarely thrown at you. In fact, the game has pre-defined moments when enemies will show up, and disappear. Still though, those moments, are really tense, and creepy because you can’t turn your lamp on and have to move around in the dark. I was actually unfortunate enough to run head-on into my enemies because I couldn’t see anything.
The design of the enemies are pretty good, but they are repetitive. The enemies you face are mostly these pigs running around, and so the hiding gameplay doesn’t evolve much, and you have to keep applying the same tactic again and again. Due to that, there isn’t enough variety in the gameplay. However, by the end, one really terrifying enemy shows up, and is absolutely interesting to face. I just hoped there were more clever enemies designed like him, prompting you to change your tactics. The puzzles are back, and like the last time, are pretty straight-forward, allowing you to solve them easily without much effort. This allows you to focus on the setting and story without running around and ruining the pace
Speaking of the story, it has a really good pace and overall great presentation through different mediums, such as notes, voice over and visuals. For notes, you will have either memos scattered around the world, giving you insight to the situation or have characters write down personal notes that you can refer to for help in case you get stuck. The writing style is very reminiscent of ye olde English, similar to the first game, which fits well with the time period. For the voice over, it will be either a hit or miss at times. However, the lead actor does his job extraordinarily well, especially by the end of the game where you will hear the pain and frustration in his voice. Same thing goes for the antagonist, whose actor has also done a marvelous job, especially during the epic finale. Yes, that is right, this game has an amazing and epic ending, one that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
However, this story and its horror wouldn’t be much if it wasn’t for the amazing ambiance, that is strongly made of, good world design, and amazing sound work including music. The way the world is designed, tells a story of its own. Everything is detailed and fits perfectly with the surroundings. Like for example, when you are at the manor in the beginning you will see these expensive antiques and paintings which are absolutely beautiful. The paintings are really depressing by the way, just check a sample above. They really make you feel creeped out. Furthermore, when you are underground, all these pipes running along the wall, peeling wall paint and other effects give authenticity to the setting, effectively immersing you in the game. You will especially notice this when you go head to head with the last enemy, whose environment is cleverly designed.
Another thing related to the world design I would like to talk about is the mechanical work, about how clever it feels. The mechanics are all smartly designed, where once you start pulling levers and pushing buttons, you will see some really cool stuff happen around you. Like for example, whenever you are changing rooms during the game, you come near this console on which there is a switch. Once you flip the switch to on, the railing around you starts to rise, and when you flip the left lever, the door on your left slowly hisses shut, followed by disinfectants spraying on you from the pipe above. Once that is done, the pressure rises on your right lever, which you can flip to open the other door. However, you have to still flip the first switch off so that the railing can retract. It really feels like there was a lot of thought put into the machinery design.
The sound work is absolutely amazing in this game, and I cannot stress this enough. The sound designers and composer Jessica Curry, have done such an amazing job with providing music to the games treacherous world. For example, the moment when you first see the hellish machine, is absolutely breathtaking and horrific. I can’t talk about it more, because I don’t want to spoil it as it is a highlight moment of the game. Again, if the sound effects and music weren’t this good, that scene would not have much of an impact as it did, and would feel generic. Same thing for the grand finale where some really memorable music and clever level design elements come into play, making it for an unforgettable experience. Also, you will hear screams and screeching ambient sounds during gameplay, which are more then enough to raise a few hairs behind your neck. If that doesn’t get to you, the enemies squealing definitely will.
To sum it all up, Amnesia: A Machine For The Pigs is a phenomenal experience with amazing writing and sound effects that are further highlighted by both the protagonist and antagonists amazing voice work, and Jessica Curry’s amazing music. It is, from the beginning, a tense ride that eventually blows up by the end, providing you with a satisfying and unforgettable ending. Furthermore, the gameplay is pretty straight-forward, and you won’t see yourself getting stuck as much as the first game. However, some features are missing from the game when compared to the first one, and some fans might not like that. Still, it did not affect my enjoyment of the game, and I had an absolute blast of a time playing it. The rich world, and tense ambiance are reasons enough to play this game.