Amnesia is a series of first-person horror games developed by Frictional Games. The franchise received attention due to its new mechanics and innovation in the horror genre. While selling millions of copies worldwide, it also features five short stories, two music albums, and merchandise. So, today, in honor of one of the most successful horror series, we’re breaking down each game.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
In The Dark Descent, players follow Daniel, suffering from amnesia, as he explores the Brennenburg castle. The game takes inspiration from the developer’s previous series, Penumbra, featuring similar puzzle mechanics. Players will have to interact with doors and machinery to solve puzzles that advance their journey around the castle. Daniel’s sanity meter is the most notable mechanic, which measures how crazy he is going. Players who spend too much time in the dark or look directly at monsters will have their sanity lowered. Daniel will experience both auditory and visual hallucinations when the meter is too low.
At release, the game was a critical success and praised for its horror, which people found genuinely scary. The game sold more than 1 million copies and is ranked as one of the best adventure/horror games ever. The series also had a beneficial relationship with YouTubers, boosting its popularity along with their own. The most notable figure is YouTuber PewDiePie, whose Amnesia videos received millions of views.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (2013)
A Machine for Pigs is the unintended sequel to The Dark Decent. It was originally created as a mod. While it doesn’t continue the story, it acts as an indirect sequel, set during the same time and universe but with new characters. Players follow the great grand-nephew of Daniel, Oswald Mandus, as he slowly remembers his past with the help of the Engineer. Oswald comes to terms with his recent trip to an Aztec temple in Mexico and the secret of what happened to his two sons.
In an attempt to make the gameplay fresh and exciting, the developers removed multiple features that were praised in the first game. The Sanity Meter is no longer in the game, so players will not be punished for being in the dark or looking at enemies. Health is automatically regenerated, removing the need for vials. The inventory was removed as well.
Due to the missing features, the game received mixed reviews at release. While the story and narrative were well executed, the horror elements and mechanics were criticized.
Amnesia: Rebirth (2020)
Rebirth is a sequel to The Dark Descent, putting players in control of Tasi Trianon. Tasi was on an expedition to Africa when her plane crashes, leaving her with amnesia and the rest of the passengers missing. While figuring out what happened, Tasi runs into NPCs, monsters, and ruins and discovers she is pregnant. The game has multiple endings, similar to The Dark Descent.
Learning from fan feedback on A Machine for Pigs, the developers brought back the Sanity Meter, causing Tasi to go insane if she is in the dark for too long. She will begin to hallucinate with strange images appearing on screen. A new mechanic was added that allows players to skip past monsters after dying to them, unlike the first game, which only featured save points, with players replaying the levels.
The game received positive reviews and praise at release for bringing back old mechanics. However, some fans noted that the story was not as good as A Machine for Pigs but is seen as a great sequel to the original game.
Amnesia: The Bunker (2023)
The Bunker takes players to WWI as French soldier Henri Clement is trapped in a bunker. While trying to maintain power and resources, players will be hunted by a monster that hates the light. Players can use guns, like pistols and shotguns, to kill enemies, changing the gameplay from past titles with no combat. The game features less narrative but more open-ended gameplay with a semi-open world.
At release, the game was praised for its sandbox elements, making the game more replayable and immersive. While it did receive criticism for its lack of story, the mechanics more than made up for it, giving it an experience like never before.