Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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I’ve never played the first Amnesia game, but I was fascinated when friends told me about how it created horror by showing that sanity could be drained, a finite resource that would force the player to approach gaming in new ways.
The sequel to that experience is called A Machine for Pigs and the name itself is impressive, implying dark mechanics and the sort of terror that can only be described via hyperbole and suggestion, because facing it would be too much for a player.
But the game itself does make some questionable choices when it comes to the core game mechanics and the way the story is being delivered, and some long-term fans might be disappointed with the resulting title, created by The Chinese Room and published by Frictional Games.
Main character Oswald Mandus is missing two things: memories and his children, but he hears spooky voices that lead him towards his progeny and hopes that getting to them will also bring back his past.
As the story of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs progresses, the internal processes of this protagonist will be explored, via found notes and somewhat contrived audio diaries, and his sanity will be challenged by the things he sees.
The narrative of the game is incomplete and this is one of the most interesting aspects because it forces gamers to think about what’s happening. Thus, the horror of the events is somewhat more potent when one’s mind actually searches to make sense of them.
The gameplay has been streamlined in some significant ways, with the sanity system and the inventory both eliminated to make it easier for gamers to focus on the moment-to-moment movements and the environments that are being traversed.
Basically, players will only have to find a way to progress, which involves solving some pretty simple puzzles and avoiding the enemies, who are, somewhat underwhelmingly, actual pigs, albeit with some pretty impressive horror twists.
The fact that gamers do not have to worry about sanity or consumables, with a lamp that can always provide light if needed in one hand, means that this is basically a stealth experience where patience is important for success.
It makes it simple to discover the levels and advance through the story, but unfortunately, this also means that some of the tension and the actual horror of the original Amnesia are missing.
I liked the fact that A Machine for Pigs was more concerned with the horror of the character’s actions taken as a whole rather than focus on the minute-to-minute scary moments.
Fans of the original might find the loss of the sanity system too much to handle and never complete the new game.
Regardless, the experience is worthy of a gamer’s time, especially given that it takes about seven hours to get to the ending.
Graphically, A Machine for Pigs looks good enough for what it is trying to achieve, with a lot of resources clearly devoted to the environments and to the task of making them representative of late XIX century England, with just enough twists to make the player question whether this is reality or fiction.
The music, on the other hand, is simply great because it enhances the atmosphere of the game and never gives away the scary moments.
It also manages to underscore that this is a subtle experience, one that’s mostly focused on horror that's not yet real for the player and how it is already disrupting his life, rather than simply throwing terror directly at the gamer.
A Machine for Pigs is a scary experience, but the game delivers it via a stronger plot and a series of deep existential questions rather than by making the player hide from monsters that can destroy his mental sanity.
Maybe creepy might be a better word than scary for what The Chinese Room has created, but this is a still a worthwhile experience, despite the fact that some of the elements of the original have been eliminated.