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Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs Review: A Fun Yet Not As Terrifying Sequel
With the success of Amnesia: The Dark Descent back in 2010, it does not come as a surprise that Frictional Games would make a sequel. Although I will admit that I did not expect The Chinese Room and Frictional Games to team up and make the sequel. For those who are unaware of who they are, The Chinese Room is the team behind Dear Esther which was originally a mod using the engine from Half-Life 2.
It is difficult to say that Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is a sequel, given that it has little to nothing to do with the previous game. It is a completely different setting with no returning characters. You play as Oswald Mandus, a man who wakes up in his house with no memory of how he got there. He soon discovers that his children have gone missing. As he searches for them, Oswald’s memories slowly return to him as he learns of a mysterious machine that exists somewhere beneath the streets of London.
The story of A Machine For Pigs is certainly an interesting concept, but there are moments when it feels slow and not as engaging as the story of The Dark Descent. Although the story does take a dark and twisted turn that The Dark Descent never really had. As a result the final part of A Machine For Pigs could be considered gruesome and horrifying in ways that The Dark Descent wasn’t. Not to say that The Dark Descent was without it’s gruesome and terrifying moments, but A Machine For Pigs can be far more intense from time to time.
I am relieved to say that A Machine For Pigs has the creepy and intense atmosphere that made Amnesia such a well known horror game. With so many horror games gradually losing the horror aspect and shifting more toward action, it is refreshing to see a horror game that sticks to its true form. In A Machine For Pigs you don’t see the monster as often as you do in The Dark Descent, so it is less predictable as to when it will appear again. I’m sorry to say this, but I’m honestly not scared by a large bi-pedal humanoid pig. The monsters in the first game were far more scary, and added to the otherworldly terror that haunted players throughout The Dark Descent.
Several changes have been made in this sequel. The big one being the removal of an inventory screen. You gradually regenerate health over time, the lantern doesn’t require fuel or any other resource, and you can only carry one item in your hands at a time. Most importantly the sanity mechanic has been removed entirely, so you no longer have to worry about not maintaining prolonged eye contact with the monster and you can stay in unlit areas for as long as you want.
With these big changes, A Machine For Pigs feels like a much more simple game than The Dark Descent. The puzzles don’t require as much thought as they did in the first game, and you no longer have to combine items to get past locked doors that didn’t have a key. There were very few situations where I considered myself to be stuck, and they didn’t last very long. This is a welcome change for the most part, but I would have honestly preferred the occasional complex puzzle that took some time to figure out.
The overall design of A Machine For Pigs is great. The environments are detailed and intriguing, and they are begging to be explored just to see how masterfully crafted the world is. The places you will go to are interesting and varied up until the later half of the game where you spend most of your time in underground passages filled with enough pipes, valves, and steam to be considered a Steam Punk paradise. If you’ve seen one mechanical looking area in this game, you’ve seen them all for the most part as little is done to make those particular environments stand out amongst one another. The score, sound effects, and voicing all add so much to the experience and draws players into the nightmarish setting of A Machine For Pigs.
The only real complaint I have with A Machine For Pigs is the lighting. Some lights are too toned down and it can be difficult to see the detail that has gone into some of the environments. Not only that but the lantern now only illuminates the area directly in front of you, which can make it hard to see sometimes. This is easily fixed by adjusting your gamma setting higher than it needs to be, but I feel that more work could have been done with the lighting.
Overall, A Machine For Pigs is a worthy sequel to The Dark Descent. It captures the spirit of the first game while adding and changing some elements along the way. Most importantly, it hasn’t forgotten what Amnesia is all about. It may not be as original or as terrifying as the first game, but A Machine For Pigs is worth the 19.99 price tag. Although if you have not played an Amnesia game before I would honestly recommend playing The Dark Descent first, as it is the better of the two games.