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Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Reviewed on: PC
Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games / ValuSoft
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

view user comments (2)
User Rating:        6
Presentation: 6

Amnesia is a game that looks to use all of your senses to scare the pants off of you. Does it work? Yes. Frictional Games has created one of the most impressive and downright scary survival horror games in recent memory.

Gameplay: 5

Some of the puzzles in this adventure/survival game are relatively easy, but Frictional Games does a great job in making nearly every action make you feel more connected to the game's central character and his quest.

Lasting Appeal:

Amnesia: the Dark Descent is a fairly short game, and after playing through it, there's probably not much reason to go through again. The developers have included an awesome commentary track that is worth a look though.

Overall: 6
Amnesia crafts a memorable and exciting survival horror/adventure game, not by taking the route of genre staples like Dead Space and Resident Evil, but by scaling it back and giving you a much more intimate and personable quest.
CHEATfactor: 6

Amnesia: The Dark Descent isn't one of those games you're going to hear about through a multi-million dollar ad campaign, its not one of those games that's Gamestop is going to ask you if you want to preorder. It is however, everything that's right about the video games industry today. I know that may be a bold statement, but it's true. Frictional Games, the studio behind the Penumbra series has crafted, an albeit small, but intimate tale that players are sure to feel invested in - oh and it'll scare the pants right off of you.

In Dark Descent, you play as Daniel, who wakes up on the floor of huge and empty Castel Breennenburg with no recollection of how he got there (so it's kind of like a dark and twisted version of The Hangover). Next to him, he finds a note that appears to be written by himself, with a list of instructions. Key to figuring out just what happened? Killing Alexander, the master of the house. If you take the time to explore the story and pick up all of the journal entries, you'll find that Dark Descent has a pretty remarkable plot. Told through mostly flashbacks that explain what happened to get you in this mess, it's enough to keep you going for one play through, but you'll be hard pressed to find reasons to go through again.

"Amnesia: The Dark Descent is filled with moments that are sure to terrify you."


Much of your time in Dark Descent will be spent wandering through dark corridors trying to solve puzzles and find your way through. Unlike other adventure games, you get no gun and very little light. These go a long way in producing the edge of your seat, holy shit atmosphere that Frictional Games does so well. The majority of the pathways in the game have lighted sections and shadowy areas, and when a shambling figure comes at you, your first instinct is to try to kill it, but of course, with no gun your best strategy is try to find a hiding spot and let the danger pass by. It may not sound that exciting, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent is filled with moments that are sure to terrify you.

Dark Descent is emotionally taxing thanks in a major part to the bond it creates between player and character. As your progress through the game, Daniel's mind slips deeper into dementia, and the player feels every step of it. It's completely acceptable to have to take a step back from the game, especially at its later stages because some of the moments are truly just so out there.

Also novel is the way that Frictional decided to take you through Daniel's journey. Every action requires such a deliberate action to complete, it actually feels like you're the one doing it. Want to open a door? You'll click and hold the mouse to turn the knob and then drag it back to pull it open. Opening drawers and shoving things to find clues takes similar actions, which surprisingly never got old, and went a great distance to keep you rooted firmly in the game and its story.

"'ll find your way into treacherous dungeons, and it's one hell of a ride."


Dark Descent succeeds mostly on account of its ability to scare you without using too many parlor tricks. Sure, you'll hear ominous footsteps and groans down the hall, and ghostly images will appear to you out of nowhere, but it's the sheer terror of being alone in this giant castle, with little light and no weapons that's the core of the experience. Earlier on in the game you'll be wandering through castles corridors and passageways, but as you start to unravel the mystery, you'll find your way into treacherous dungeons, and it's one hell of a ride.

As great as Dark Descent is, it's a short experience, and after playing through once, you're not likely going to find much that's going to make you want to go through again. There is however a pretty cool commentary track included by the folks at Frictional Games that sheds some light on some of the more out there and questionable design choices throughout the game. It's not really a game seller, but it is cool to check out once you've finished the game.

It may not look as pretty as the other survival horror games on the market, and it may not get off to a fast start, but sticking with Amnesia: The Dark Descent is strongly advised, as the further you get into the game, the more frightening it gets. It's a sensory assault, intent on getting you out of your seat, and your comfort zone - Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a truly exceptional title. 



CHEATS USED: Unlock Weapon: The Knife, Unlock Weapon: Goblin Hand

In a world as confusing as Amnesia's, you can never have enough sanity, and the trainer for Dark Descent from Cheat Happens gives you the really cool feature of being able to have unlimited sanity. You can also have unlimited health, oil and tinderboxes, which in turn leads to unlimited light, and you can't go wrong with that.

Playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent is kind of like the virtual version of playing with the lights on.



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