Title: Amnesia: Rebirth
Developer: Frictional Games
Release Date: October 20, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Frictional Games
Genre: Horror Adventure
The Amnesia series has been haunting our dreams for quite some time. Still, since its initial release, developer Frictional Games has seemed to learn a thing or two about narrative storytelling. Some might say that’s what made this horror series so grand as it used its horror themes as a distraction from any glossed over plot points. However, with Amnesia: Rebirth, we seem to see a new side of them as they focus more on the fact that they know they can scare you, and they use this power to weave heavier narrative themes through some masterful atmosphere.
Amnesia: Rebirth puts players in the role of Tasi Trianon, a member of an excavation team who has just crashed in the desert. She awakes with no memory and what’s worse is that she has these visions of Deja Vu. It’s here that you are introduced to a recurring theme of Tasi being involved in events that she can’t piece together. Still, everywhere she goes, she manages to end up somewhere that she’s already been. It’s jarring to both her and the player in this regard and make up some of the entire game’s more narrative driving focuses.
Tasi’s goal is fairly simple, find the people she crashed with and figure out what the hell is going on to her and the area around her. The more she explores, the further down this rabbit hole she goes. It gets to the point where your mood matches Tasi’s, and you can’t take it anymore. My head began to hurt, trying to connect the dots before the conclusion, and I felt like Tasi was going through the same thing.
The more supernatural elements act as a bridge to all of this as we witness moments of Tasi’s life and deal with the fact that she’s actually pregnant. There are monsters here, but the narrative never uses this as a crutch. Instead, it barely uses these monsters at all. That’s not to say Amnesia: Rebirth isn’t scary because it’s terrifying, but the developer has opted to craft environments and implement certain mechanics that instill an atmosphere that does a lot of the scaring on its own.
Gameplay extends into puzzle designs that were found in each new area visited and encompasses some item collecting to progress. It’s not incredibly difficult to get through these puzzles; if anything, I wished some were more difficult, but they are clever. Some great mechanics implemented the use of the general environment with the items found. It’s pretty rewarding every time you figure it out, and they rarely if ever repeat.
Other elements of Amnesia: Rebirth focus on exploration where you read notes left from previous adventures and try to find as many matches as you can because if you find yourself in the dark, things get bad. While venturing in the dark, Tasi gets uncomfortable and frightened as something mysterious affects her, one of which is the baby inside her. Managing your light sources is something that you’ll regularly be doing everywhere you go.
As exploration becomes more significant, you find yourself traveling through some multidimensional plains. Here, the game’s themes include futuristic elements, but it only adds to your confusion of what the hell is going on. I did think it was a little strange when I ended up in some no-name basement of this dark dimension and find a pack of matches in a vase.
Where Amnesia: Rebirth gets messy is just pacing and how predictable the beats become. It’s as if it cares more about creating these grand set-pieces and well-detailed environments that it forgets it’s supposed to be a horror game. Conversely, these moments of comfort that the developer uses to spring some terrifying moments on the player. I found myself nervously yelling as I was being chased by something. I did feel there were some issues with some encounters feeling more like linear experiences as I would get caught only to realize that it was a part of the story.
Amnesia: Rebirth is a product of a studio maturing into their skills. They’ve mastered the sense of narrative storytelling by crafting beautiful atmospheric environments instead of relying on straight horror. While the pacing can come to a crawl at certain moments, there’s no denying this is a terrifying game that fits well within the developer’s catalog.
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