The Amnesia franchise has carved its name on the cell wall in an abandoned prison, which we like to call the horror genre. The debut title was about exploring a terrifying mansion haunted by monsters that chased you in the dark and that you had no way to fight.
It’s been almost a decade since Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and developer Frictional Games has announced that it’s returning to that world with a radical format change.
Developer Frictional Games has announced that the next installment in their psychological horror series, Amnesia: The Bunker, will draw on some best horror movies – such as The Dark Pictures Anthology – allowing the player to explore a “semi-open world” of largely unscripted events.
In a bunker from World War I, we will have to fight our way out with only one bullet in the revolver.
While the combat element of Amnesia is interesting, hopefully the “randomness and unpredictable behavior” of this unscripted hole still gives us cause to care about our character.
Not your average war game
In a dark, dank, abandoned World War I bunker, you’ll play as the lone French soldier Henri Clément. He seems to have awakened from one nightmare to another; total war bullets and mortar rounds are gone, but something here definitely wants your death.
Judging by the few details on the subject Amnesia: The Bunker’s Steam page (opens in a new tab)we can expect many twists and turns not only in individual games, but also in the genetics of Amnesia itself.
The times are long gone being completely helpless to madness inside and out because you’ll be (partially) armed with The Bunker. You can tell from the trailer that the hero only has a lone bullet in his revolver and a rather noisy dynamo flashlight to illuminate his gloomy surroundings, giving you the opportunity to potentially fight whatever lurks in the dark.
You will be followed by an intelligent presence, watching and learning your every move as you try to escape from it. We know that randomization will provide “multiple solutions to solve problems in a non-linear world”, so there will be more than one way to pull off an impressive coup.
Risk or reward?
Giving us some control over the story and its environment is nothing new. This was the case with slashers like The Quarry and the latest addition to The Dark Pictures Anthology, The Devil In Me.
Both held together by a vast, overarching narrative, you start caring about the characters in each game because of how they interact with each other. You’ve invested in their lives and relationships, which gives you a reason to fight the horrors and see them through safely.
Scripted elements and cutscenes are central to shaping their story, providing a balanced framework for action. Sure, horror games with multiple endings like The Mortuary Assistant run largely randomized, but still follow distinct narrative paths that let you discover more about the characters with each unique playthrough.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent handled this brilliantly as the first game in the Amnesia series; the character wakes up with no memory of who he is or why he’s there, but as the game gently guides you through it, you may discover reasons to still care about staying alive.
Amnesia: The Bunker has the potential to be as good as the original, thanks to its doom-filled environment and unpredictable horrors that should keep us on edge. But right now, it threatens to be more of an experience than a story, and may lose what I loved about the first game.
Life in your hands is only worth the reasons we value it. If we’re just shooting bullets in the dark, why bother?