Amnesia: Rebirth Review – NIGHTMARE FUEL?
Amnesia: Rebirth throws you into the shoes of Tasi Trianon. A stranded soul, who’s searching for her husband, Salim after a fateful plane crash in Algeria. All the while, dealing with humanoid monsters called Ghuls and a supremely daunting reality, she must soon face…
Being A Conventional Horror Experience, Does The Story Resonate?
The story’s told mostly through exposition. With some eye-popping sketch art and the typical horror trope of scattered journal entries strewn around the map. If you’re not a big fan of exposition dumps though, then this’ll probably bother you. Because these events occur quite regularly and a majority of them are often made unskippable.
What I find REALLY interesting, is that Amnesia: Rebirth outright tells you from the start. “This game should not be played to win, immerse yourself in the world and the story”. That being the case, the story just wasn’t hooking me… Full stop. It’s basically your traditional, other-world horror stuff you’ve seen countless times before.
The story just wasn’t hooking me… Full stop. It’s basically your traditional, other-world horror stuff you’ve seen countless times before.
I personally couldn’t attach myself to any of the characters either, as Tasi never really interacts or bonds with them. Outside of flashbacks or the occasional walkie-talkie dialogue. And when the cast does chat together, the scenes are wrapped up so fast that there’s no satisfying emotional pay-off or memorable moment to speak of.
Even if the decent acting and teary music suggest otherwise.
Is Amnesia: Rebirth’s Gameplay & Presentation Up To Par?
Carrying over to gameplay; Since Amnesia: Rebirth wants you to focus so much on the story and characters, the tension and stakes in-game feel sorely diminished. There’s no game-over or retry screens at all here. So if you trigger a fail-state, you’re literally just shovelled back to where you were. Sometimes even AHEAD of your last position. It’s as if the developers want to finish the game for you.
It’s as if the developers want to finish the game for you.
Doesn’t help that the scares and Ghul monsters are few and far between. I found myself being more annoyed than panicked or scared half the time…
In alignment with Amnesia culture, Tasi must stay within close range of a light source. Or risk being literally enveloped by her own fear, or becoming easy prey for the Ghuls.
The catch is since her fear drops so quickly, and the fact that there’s only a limited amount of lantern oil and matches, you’ll find yourself constantly waiting at light sources to recover. Then timing your runs between candles to minimise resource usage, whilst you’re solving a puzzle.
The frequent stopping, in combination with the long load times of the PS4, slows down the pace SO much in my opinion. It’s super frustrating because this system works exceedingly well when the Ghuls attack. Because you’ll often be forced to lurk in the darkness and wait for an opening. Managing your fear level and the approaching monster in unison.
That’s the REAL drawcard of Amnesia: Rebirth.
Jaw-Dropping Vistas & Efficient UI Placement
One aspect that should be highly commended is the art style and variance of the backgrounds. For an indie studio, they’ve really knocked it out of the park here. The environments are superbly hand-crafted and really have their own unique flavour to them. Creating a world that compels you to explore and discover its many secrets.
The environments are superbly hand-crafted and really have their own unique flavour to them. Creating a world that compels you to explore and discover its many secrets.
The lighting and shadow techniques on display look gorgeous as well! A lot of love and care was clearly dedicated to these aspects. Maybe not so much with the human character models themselves, but I’ll give them a pass because you rarely see other living people along Tasi’s journey. Some of the environments are a little TOO enormous for my liking though. Especially with one area early on, where I was literally walking in circles for 30 minutes before I found the exit. Not fun!
But on the flip-side, I honestly appreciate how you can see the oil levels of your lantern on screen. Or the way that burning matches wilt to display their expiration, helping to remove unnecessary UI components from the Amnesia interface. Nice touch!
Amnesia’s Peculiar Design Choices
What I did find a little odd surprisingly, was something at the start of the journey. There’s this weird mechanic that prompts you to stay out of the sun and keep to the shade in the desert. But then it’s never actually used again after… Also, when Tasi receives her amulet, wrist-watch thing early on, allowing her to open up certain walls and landscapes. There’s such a heavy emphasis on it in-game and story-wise, but then it kinda just slowly phases out of game’s pecking order…
There’s this weird mechanic that prompts you to stay out of the sun and keep to the shade in the desert. But then it’s never actually used again after...
Almost feels as if Frictional Games weren’t sure whether they should include these elements or not.
A little strange to be sure…
All in all, the puzzles were probably my favourite of the whole experience. You most definitely have to scour around and find the ONE specific puzzle piece the formula needs at times. Though in execution, putting all the parts together feels super intuitive and rewarding to finally work out.
Hats off there!
So, is Amnesia: Rebirth worth the purchase? Well, I’d have to give it a hard maybe. If you’re desperate for a new horror fix then by all means, but don’t expect the game to scare you on a regular basis. It rather offers an excellent world design, great puzzles and spooky set-pieces that are perfect for a late-night gaming session. There are even some cool Stanley Kubrick references in there that you’ll definitely get a kick out of. Not the greatest follow-up to The Dark Descent, but not the worst either.
Review by Anthony Culinas
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