If you were involved in PC gaming in 2010 then you definitely remember when Amnesia: The Dark Descent took the internet by swarm. The game almost single handedly caused the horror game revival, not to mention launching the careers of popular YouTubers who scared themselves for your entertainment. Frictional Games recently announced a sequel, Amnesia Rebirth.
Amnesia Rebirth, trailer and what we know so far
From the trailer, we can tell that Amnesia Rebirth will have us getting scared as a brand new character. Apart from the grisly imagery, the Amnesia Rebirth trailer teases a dry desert location, a plane crash, a mysterious voice, the calming effect of what appears to be laudanum, everything you can expect from the 19th century horror aesthetic that Amnesia is known for.
Aside from the brief glimpses offered by the trailer, however, we know very little about what this Amnesia Rebirth will bring. However, from looking at Frictional’s other works, we can make some assumptions about what to expect.
Learning from Frictional Games’ body of work
Frictional Games is best known for their more recent works, Amnesia and Soma, but they cut their teeth on the ambitious Penumbra series. Penumbra is the only game they’ve made so far that featured anything close to combat, and it’s quick to see why. The way players interface with the world in these games, but clicking and dragging their mouse to mimic hand movements, makes these games somewhat clunky.
However, that clunkiness actually benefits the game as a whole. Because the core mechanic of the game is fear, something experienced by the player and not necessarily something that can be imposed upon the character, requiring the player to use their fine motor skills under duress makes the game scarier than it would otherwise be.
What this does not aid, however, is combat. Combat gives the player hope and allows them to compose themselves, which is why the later Penumbras and other games forego combat altogether. Therefore, we can expect that Amnesia Rebirth will expect players to flee rather than fight.
Puzzles, or chores?
Puzzle gameplay is another part of Frictional’s horror works, though the quality of those puzzles has varied. In Amnesia The Dark Descent, for instance, the puzzles were often easy enough to feel more like busy work. That game’s massive success in spite of that shows how effective the scares and atmosphere were.
Soma, on the other hand, had puzzles on top of puzzles, and created a philosophical art piece that also happened to be scary. Soma, I would argue, had a lot more to offer, but its gameplay was not quite as novel as Amnesia’s had been. Nevertheless, Soma is a great experience, even without the scares, as seen by its “safe” mode.
We can expect the puzzles in Amnesia Rebirth will almost certainly be better than its predecessors, though the puzzles will also not be the part of the game most players care about. Whether or not this game will have a similar “safe” mode to Soma is unknown, though we can certainly hope that the writing in Amnesia Rebirth is as good as Soma’s.
If you’re ready to be scared, the game releases on October 20th.