Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs Review
So few games get horror right.
The doors may creak in all the right places and things might shriek at you and give you a jolt, but very rarely do you come away from a horror game feeling emotionally drained like you would after sitting through a gruelling movie like Martyrs, A L’Interieur or Mean Girls.
Condemned did it well, but then ruined it all (or made better, depending on how you look at things) when Condemned 2 made your character a super Saiyan who could shout at people ‘til their heads exploded.
Call of Chthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth also did a terrific job of scaring the bejesus out of you, before a boss fight on a boat later on ended up, well, demystifying the devil.
Amnesia got it right though.
The first Amnesia was pretty fantastic, especially when you played it in the dead of night with headphones in, and a bat flew through your window or something and you legitimately shit yourself.
The new Amnesia, A Machine For Pigs, (the best song title Trent Reznor never came up with) is even better though, and here’s why.
The Dark Descent, while excellent, had you faffing around a lot looking for oil to fill your lantern or tinder boxes to light up the dark. It was all typical computer game stuff and nothing truly horrific (in a bad sense), but it did make some bits feel padded out.
The insanity effects, while nice at first, ended up being more of a nuisance than anything too – Eternal Darkness is still the King in that regard – and the monsters ceased being scary once you’d been nabbed the first half dozen times.
A Machine For Pigs trims the fat. Your lantern never runs out now, and there are no insanity effects, bar the odd hallucinatory bit.
There are no health pickups either, and there’s no inventory full of chemicals to mix anymore.
Some might not like the more direct approach, but A Machine For Pigs is an eminently more playable beast than its predecessor.
The chaps behind Dear Esther helped out on A Machine For Pigs, and you can tell. Regardless of what you thought of Dear Esther (we thought it was okay but could have done with a shotgun and a few boss fights), its narrative-heavy approach works wonders here. A Machine For Pigs, despite being cut from the same ragged, blood-stained cloth as its predecessor, does horror differently.
Of course, a lot of it comes from the atmosphere and artistic direction, which bastardises abattoir squelch with grinding technology and screeching industrial backdrops, but there’s a greater horror lurking.
A Machine For Pigs’ greatest achievement, is slowly drip feeding you plot details until you begin to grasp what’s happening, and when you do figure out the overall ramifications, it’s pretty jaw dropping.
Each new bit of information obtained or jigsaw piece put together is part of a grander scheme that, when fully revealed, is genuinely utterly horrifying. Like, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, HP Lovecraft horrifying. It’s fantastic frankly, and you feel like a right clever sausage (pun intended, unfortunately) for drawing your own conclusions about what’s going on.
Obviously, it’s going to show you all it has in one playthrough, and as with the first game, you’re not heavily penalised for dying (you respawn close to where it happened, and sometimes the, er… thing that killed you will have gone) so it negates some of the tension, but for the six or so hours it’ll take you, you arguably won’t play a more engrossing game horror or not this year than Machine For Pigs.
Frankly, more games should be like Amnesia: a Machine For Pigs.
It’s an ambitious, filler free exercise in dread that puts both AAA studios and indie plebs making Slender rip offs in their bedrooms to shame.
Version Tested: PC