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GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

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Posted by: David Sanchez

When you bring up modern survival horror video games, it's possible that no title is more talked about than Amnesia: The Dark Descent. There are other titles — one being the incredible Lone Survivor — that properly capture the magic of the genre, but that game in particular is still obscure enough that not everyone knows about it. Amnesia, on the other hand, is widely regarded as one of the best survival horror games in recent memory, and that's not without reason, either.

While other modern titles like Resident Evil 5, F.E.A.R., and our last 31 Games of Halloween entry Dead Space combine shooting and action mechanics to make a less-than-pure horror experience, Amnesia does no such thing. So with that said, let's embark on the descent into madness that this game so terrifyingly boasts.

Amnesia The Dark Descent - PC - 1

Why it stands out

Unlike so many other games that feature horror elements, this game goes back to the basics of the genre. There's an inherent sense of hopelessness throughout that makes certain parts hard to stomach. You don't feel empowered, and you're not some notably strong character bent on taking out a threat. Instead, that threat is more powerful than you, and there's no real way to combat it. As a result, you must avoid the horrors that Amnesia throws your way in order to survive.

You're not just taking on something far beyond your control, though. One of the biggest elements you're battling in Amnesia is your very psyche. Your sanity is on the line, and it's up to you to combat fear in order to keep from going crazy. Hints of insanity appear before you as your very surroundings shift and warp into something else, and it's easy to see when fear is not only taking over your very soul, but when it's destroying your mind.

Interestingly, not only is the main character Daniel a part of everything that happens in Amnesia — you're just as much a pivotal part of the whole experience as he is. Aside from the obvious fact that you see everything he sees in first-person perspective and hear everything he hears, you also experience the decline of his sanity firsthand. You'll experience a bit of purposeful mouse lag, and your control will be terribly affected, making you an interwoven part of the main character himself.
 

Amnesia The Dark Descent - PC - 2

Is it scary?

In case it hasn't been made perfectly clear, Amnesia is without a doubt a scary game. Monsters are hideous, being in the dark is terrifying, and the inability to fight is dreadful. That's not all, though, because this game isn't always about what you see; it's also about what you don't see. There are countless times when you can only hear the vicious sounds of the terrors around you, and not knowing what they are or where they are can lead to some amazingly tense moments.

Of course, things only get creepier and more surreal when your character begins to lose his mind. His very grasp on reality is compromised, and you witness and experience his fall into madness firsthand. It's not enough that you see as the world around him crumbles and melts into a shattered mess of a quasi-reality, but you begin to lose even more control over everything that's happening, making you but a mere pawn in this twisted world.

Amnesia The Dark Descent - PC - 3

Why play it on Halloween?

Let's see, should you play Amnesia on Halloween? Isn't it obvious? If you want a game that's the epitome of survival horror done right, this ominous title is one of the best modern choices around. You don't have any control over your surroundings, your very sanity is on the line, and fear infects you at every turn.

I personally know people who couldn't finish Amnesia due to the game scaring the crap out of them. Play it in the dark with some headphones on, and you're bound to get the most out of this beautifully horrifying experience. Its eerie ambiance and disturbing gameplay make it a perfect match for Halloween, and if you can handle some immense, psychological scares, you should definitely play it to celebrate the holiday. There's a reason people have been talking about Amnesia for the past two years.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

Tags: Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional Games, Halloweem

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