Developer: Frictional Games Publisher: Frictional Games Music: Frictional Games Platforms: Steam, PS4, Epic Games Released: 20-October-2020 Genre: First person horror
You are Tasi, on a flight with your husband Salim, and he is nervous. Many people are nervous when there’s turbulence. You give him a little monkey plushie, and that seems to reassure him. Until the turbulence gets worse, much worse. Outside you see the world changing, literally, flashing between an ordinary storm, and something… other-wordly. And before you can begin to understand what you are seeing and experiencing…
When you come to, you are alone. In the middle of a wrecked plane. There aren’t even any bodies around you. As you step out of the plane into the burning sun, it doesn’t take long for you to realise that something is wrong. Very wrong. And as you follow a trail to a cave, you’ll soon find out just how wrong things are. Amnesia: Rebirth is a first person horror game, with a semi-realistic artstyle, and zero combat. Your only defence is to keep moving, think quickly, and stay calm in an environment designed to make you nervous, stressed, and afraid.
Game play is rather simple. You can interact with objects, push and move them around, open and close doors, chests, and drawers. All these allow you to move around and hide. And you will need to hide. Crouching means you move more quietly. And you will need to move more quietly. There are dedicated buttons to allow you to peer around corners and doorways. All these to keep a low profile, and to be cautious.
And you will need to be cautious.
In addition, you have your health to keep in mind, but also your sanity. Witnessing scary or disturbing events will negatively affect your sanity. Looking at dead bodies, falling down, being in the dark for too long. Or being around the monster that pursues you. You will have to keep moving, stay near or create sources of light, and be prepared to be plunged into darkness in order to hide. It is a careful balance of staying physically safe, without allowing yourself to fall into a terrifying mental abyss. You will find yourself travelling through the world you know, navigating caves and rooms, forts and passes. But, with the help of a mysterious artifact, you will be able to travel between worlds. It is eerie, frightening, and dark.
The events that happened are revealed through flashbacks and episodes of psychosis. And slowly you piece together what happened to you and your team, and everyone on that plane. And why you can’t remember these things.
Most of the flashbacks are interesting, helpful, and informative, but far too many of the flashbacks only serve to disrupt the experience and yank you out of your immersion. But so far, that is my only complaint. And I say so far, as I haven’t finished the game yet, but let me tell you, my curiosity is stronger than my fear. But I am still afraid.
Simple puzzles, problem solving, and resource gathering will be how you overcome obstacles. These aren’t hard to figure out under normal circumstances, but when you know something is pursuing you, and you have to balance your own sanity and health with how quickly you make progress, well let me just say, even opening doors becomes incredibly difficult.
It can be quite overwhelming, but you find your moments when you can just relax and take a moment. Your journal helps you keep on track, which is helpful when I find myself rummaging through every chest for fragments of notes. And of course, you, your character, is given a reason to push forward. It’s not only your own survival at stake, but the survival of a potential future. This hope not only pushes you forward, but also grounds you.
And so, armed with a few tools, and your own wits, you must find a way to survive.
Amnesia isn’t only known for its use of visual horror, audio horror is also incredibly important. With the right chords, panic is struck. Musical cues tells you that something is happening, and it adapts to the situation. A mysterious shadow? There’s a sound for that. You’re making your way through a series of rooms? The sound builds and builds until you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting and dreading that moment when the horror MUST reveal itself. These games uses the concept of ‘less-is-more’ to invoke fear, you fill in the blanks, you are told to be prepared, so you become braced for something, anxiety winding up within you like a horrible spring.
Let me address the big question: is Amnesia: Rebirth scary? Yes, it is. It is very scary. It leans on suspense, and the suggestion of ‘something’, rather than simply presenting the monster to you. Although I felt that the constant flashbacks broke my immersion rather often, and that it is possible to figure out a method of surviving an encounter with the monster, I think that is a practical response to a confusing, alarming situation. And as you gain your footing, learn and remember this world, and as you continue to resist the urge to give in to fear and hopelessness, you are rewarded with answers, memories, and a story of a woman who is unwell, struggling, and heartbroken, but continuing to survive because she must. It has a lot of the traits I admire so much in these games, but it is not Amnesia: The Dark Descent, or A Machine for Pigs. It is it’s own, unique story, with its own unique character, and it’s own unique monster unlike anything I have witnessed before.
With a slower pace, lots of suspense, and intrigue into what is going on, I hope to finish this game soon! I’ll just be doing it with the lights on.
Reviewed by Zahra Pending @Degari_rose on 28th of October 2020
Executive Producer and Announcer I’m a Game Design graduate who loves big and small creative experiences. I love to dive into the feelings of games as well as artistic elements that tell a compelling story. I don’t really have a favourite genre of game however I don’t really like horror games. Some of my favourite games of all time are: Detroit Become Human, Overwatch and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I usually play PC, Nintendo Switch or PS4 and on the off occasion will test out some Android mobile games. You’ll usually find me announcing and producing the live show each week as well as out and about the local Brisbane Game Development scene.