REVIEW: ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’

I’m going to get this out of the way: I loved “Amnesia: The Dark Descent.” The atmosphere was rich, it had a deeply engrossing plot, and I had never played any game nearly as frightening.

With that said, if you loved “Amnesia” for those reasons and only those reasons, you may want to pick up “Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs,” developed by The Chinese Room. You will undoubtedly like it and it’s only $20 on Steam. If you were also drawn to the strong puzzle elements, freedom of exploration, and constant threat of the unknown, you might still want to buy it but prepare for mild disappointment.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I liked this game a lot. I have been craving a terrifying and masterfully crafted horror gaming experience like that of the original “Amnesia” ever since I finished my play-through. This sequel delivered in that area splendidly.

“A Machine for Pigs” manages to capture that cat-and-mouse feeling quite well for the majority of the game. The plot is fiendishly confusing and at times cryptic, and it lends itself to being carefully analyzed from beginning to end. It even helps contribute to the fear factor as several plot points are completely insane and terrifying. I found the game difficult to put down throughout the experience.

As you might expect, it’s not a perfect experience, and unfortunately it isn’t quite as strong as the original in many aspects. To begin with, I was unsatisfied with how railroaded the game felt compared to its predecessor.

Environments feel smaller and more linear and backtracking is usually impossible as routes are sealed so that the only way to move is forward. The inventory screen has been completely scrapped and there are essentially no items to pick up for later use with the exception of what you can carry in your hand.

Speaking of which, you can only lift a few specific objects this time around, another downgrade from “The Dark Descent” which had no qualms with allowing the player to trash every bookshelf and dining set in sight. Puzzles in this game felt dumbed down which may attribute to the fact that this game is considerably shorter than the original. (I finished in about six hours.)

“Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs” is ultimately a fantastic horror game well worth checking out. It does not live up to the same standard as the original, but the bar had been set so high to begin with. If you loved “Amnesia,” you will almost certainly enjoy its sequel but do not expect to be wowed by improvements, as the game isn’t quite up to snuff.

That said, it’s a new story and a new experience. As someone who thought would know what to expect from having played the original, I still bit my nails, sitting on the edge of my seat constantly. I recommend you play with an open mind and focus on enjoying the game in its own right and avoid putting it in the context of its somewhat superior counterpart.

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