Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is the September 10, 2013 sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developed by thechineseroom (best known for Dear Esther) and published by Frictional Games (also known for the Penumbra Series).Taking place in the same universe as The Dark Descent, A Machine for Pigs takes place sixty years later, in Victorian London, on New Years Eve, 1899. Wealthy industrialist Oswald Mandus has just awoken from a fevered comatose state that lasted him several months, haunted by nightmares of a vicious, dark, elaborate machine of mysterious purpose. He must trace his life back to find out what happened during his months of unconsciousness, and figure out what happened during his ill-fated trip to Mexico that immediately preceded it…But mostly, he finds nothing...Nothing but the twisted monstrosities that stalk the halls, and of the great machine that whirs to life beneath him...Upon release the game saw positive reviews from the critics but was rather less applauded from a lot the fans of the first game, some praising the strong voice acting and complex narrative as well as the setting and soundtrack, while others criticized the removal of many features, the almost non-existent scares, and its length. Even going as far as saying that the only problem is that it should have been a stand alone game, instead of being related to the Amnesia franchise.
This video game provides examples of:
Adult Fear: Mandus begins the game with no knowledge of the last few months, and immediately sets out trying to find his children, worried about what might have happened to them. The revelation of what truly happened to his children, and the reason why he killed them, also plays into this: he sacrificed them to to spare them from a more horrifying death in WW1.
Alternate Reality Game: The title, tagline, a release window, two pieces of artwork and hints of thechineseroom's involvement were all revealed through various fake websites.
Amnesiac Hero: In keeping with the series' Meaningful Name. The main character, Oswald Mandus, cannot remember the last few months of his life, and is driven to rediscover what happened to him, what went on during his trip to Mexico, and how he is connected to the Industrialized Evil around him.
And in keeping with the theme of the series, Oswald soon discovers he's done monstrous things he may not want to remember.
And Show It to You: When you finally find your children, they tear out their own hearts to show you. And do it again in subsequent meetings.
Animal Motifs: Diary entries repeatedly use Pigs heavily to represent people.
Applied Phlebotinum: The mysterious Compound X that powers the Machine and allows humans and pigs to be spliced together without killing them. It appears to have supernatural effects, up and including unhinging the subjects from reality, making them flicker back and forth from existence.
Apocalypse How: The Engineer/The Machine plans a planetary class 3 type. Mandus witnesses the near destruction of London towards the end of the game.
It is heavily hinted however that the Engineer plans an Earth-Shattering Kaboom type apocalypse with its promise to "split the atom and the egg" (the world's core had been repeatedly referred to as a "metal/stone egg") using the power gained by the slaughter of London's population.
Artistic License - History: The story takes place in the last hours of the 19th century, on the 31st of December 1899. Problem is, the Victorians were more careful with their calendar than our generation, and celebrated the turn of the 20th century when it actually happened, at midnight on January 1, 1901.
Blackout Basement: There are several areas in the game where the lights will flicker and buzz, which would be justified by the crude state of electrical systems at the time, except that this even happens to Mandus' own hand lantern. It usually means that something bad is about to happen. Some areas have this even worse, where the lights will flicker and go out, leaving Mandus to navigate only by his own lantern. Sometimes it does this while he is being hunted by Wretches.
This actually has an in story explanation. The Wretches' bodies contain the mystical Compound X that reacts to light in strange ways. On its own it simply becomes incredibly corrosive, but inside living bodies it produces stranger effects, apparently including electrical disturbances.
Bookcase Passage: Plenty in Mandus' mansion. There are several hidden doors, leading to narrow passages inside of thick walls, with one-way mirrors for spying on people in rooms. At least one of these doors is behind a bathtub, the entirety of which rotates along with the floor and adjacent wall to expose the passage.
Call Back: There are plenty of references to the original Amnesia, even if it is an indirect sequel.
Mandus is well aware of the castle from the last game as well as the residents there, which is critical to the plot as he uses the remains of a Servant Grunt as a partial blueprint for his Manpigs, and further refining the use of Vitae to twist captured humans into said manpigs.
There is a shattered Orb in the Aztec Temple which has been integrated into the machine.
There are repeated references to "his great uncle's experiments" which implies that either Daniel or Alexander was his great uncle.
The Water Monsters reappear as some of Mandus's "failed test subjects" and haunt the sewers of the factory.
One note explains that Compound X is partly made of a formula created by Alexander, quite possibly vitae, the stuff of human pain and suffering.
Crapsack World: Victorian London wasn't a happy place, but it's actually a vision of the 20th century that affects Oswald so deeply it makes him construct a vast, demonic Machine beneath the ground with intention of slaughtering the entire human race like pigs.
Creepy Cathedral: The chapel near Mandus' home, with windows are stained with the blood of pigs and their mutilated corpses piled atop the altar. In the notes it is revealed this was a key source of "raw material" for the Manpigs, abducting entire congregations and sending them to the machine through a hidden passage.
Creepy Child: Oswald keeps catching glimpses of his ghostly looking, English-accented children running throughout the manor. Taken Up to Eleven after he is tricked into turning the machine back on, where they appear right before the camera pale as corpses and covered in blood and ripping their own hearts out their chests.
Darker and Edgier: A Machine For Pigs drops the lighter gothic horror of Dark Descent for Industrialized Evil and even more grotesque Body Horror. Similarly, the abstract Cosmic Horror story of Dark Descent is replaced with a more personal and tragic tale of a father's love for his children causing him to do horrific things.
The enemy hunting you goes from shadows and mutilated undead humans to even more twisted manpig monsters that are still human.
Daniel tortured dozens or possibly hundreds of strangers to death out of selfishness. Mandus mutilated and lobotomised thousands to "save them" from their own humanity. And murdered his own children to spare them a more horrific death.
The villain is not some alien abomination from another realm but a piece of Mandus' damaged soul given life.
Eldritch Location: It seems impossible that something as massive and bizarre as the depths of the Machine could be built under London by any normal means. Mandus even speculates that he is the first human ever to walk in those halls, even though the Machine is his own creation.
Near the end of the game, it becomes difficult to tell which parts of the factory are real and which parts are the product of Mandus' unraveling mind.
Enemy Without: The Engineer is a part of Mandus' own soul, representing his mad wish to prevent his visions of war and bloodshed in the 20th century.
Eternal Engine: A horror version. Oswald's factory is an industrialized meat factory filled with corpses and blood that goes miles upon miles underground.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A note in the very beginning of the game reveals Jack the Ripper had two children that he appeared to care about. After Jack is turned into a manpig/experiemented upon by Mandus, Oswald had to keep them locked in a room with reinforced windows to stop them from taking revenge and/or telling the police about what he had done to their father.
Given what is later found in the manpig nest, it's likely that a far worse fate befell them than mere imprisonment.
Gadgeteer Genius: Implied with Mandus, as part of his success as an industrialist. Even the recording and playback devices, though not an original concept, are his own design.
Genius Loci: The Machine hosts a piece of Mandus's own, broken soul. It is both sentient and completely insane.
Go Mad from the Revelation: After witnessing the horrors of the 20th century, from the trenches of World War I to the bombing of Hiroshima to the Cambodian killing fields, Mandus is so desperate to avert it he murders thousands of innocent people, including his own children, and turns hundreds more into the tortured manpigs.
Gory Discretion Shot: The player stops The Machine by sitting in a chair and flipping a switch, which brings out several needles aiming straight for Oswald's heart. The screen goes black right when the needles jut in.
The Grotesque: Considering it's set in the same universe as Amnesia: Dark Descent, it's no surprise the game is filled with Body Horror-like squealing Pig Man creatures and rivers of blood.
Haunted Technology: Mandus' meat factory almost seems to be alive, sputtering in and out of life on its own. It actually is haunted by the Engineer, a piece of Mandus' own soul.
Hazardous Water: Sections of the machine are flooded, and Mandus must activate the bilges and release valves to get the water level low enough to pass. However, strange electrical disturbances in the water indicate the presence of something unseen wading through it.
Heroic Sacrifice: Mandus shuts down the Machine and saves London at the cost of his life.
I'm a Humanitarian: It's regularly implied that humans might be serving as meat for Mandus' sausage factory.
Professor: My dear Mr. Mandus, I admire your vision, I truly do—but there are surely not enough pigs in the whole of London to feed the appetite of such a machine. Mandus: That all rather depends, Professor, on what one considers to be a pig.
A large part of the game takes place in a uncomfortably cramped, blood-stained meat factory.
Experiments of combining animals or humans with machines are discussed.
Mandus was driven insane by visions of the evils brought about by the industrialization of tyranny and war in the 20th century.
Interface Screw: While the eye-bending screen filters from Dark Descent at low sanity aren't here, there are still some subtle changes in clarity and field of view. One notable mention is if you were to attempt to look at your journal at end game.
Jack the Ripper: Referenced in Mandus' journals. The professor who visits him is even said to have performed autopsies on the Ripper's various female victims. It is also implied that Jack may have become one of the manpigs or another of Mandus's experiments.
Similarly the factory seems to be at least partially located in some of the Ripper's old haunts like Bucks Row or Hansbury Street.
Kill the Poor/Eat the Rich: Mandus and the Engineer murdered thousands of the destitute to grow the Engineer's power, seeing it as a better alternative to dying at the hands of shrapnel and mustard gas in the coming decades. He ultimately comes to hate and butcher the wealthy, too.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Oswald's last journal, which stands in for an objective: "I search for instructions, for advice, for help in my goals, but in return the system mocks me. Simpleton, it says, you must find your own answers now."
Lightning Bruiser: The pig monsters, which can not only kill you with their bare hands, but easily outrun you as well. Also literally the case with the electrified Tesla manpigs that phase in and out of this dimension.
Mad God: The Engineer, a piece of Mandus' soul slowly being elevated to godhood through human sacrifice and the two Orbs he discovered in an Aztec temple, and driven mad by visions of 20th century bloodshed.
Mad Oracle: The Engineer talks of coming doom, but in completely insane ways.
Engineer: The innocent, the innocent, Mandus, trod and bled and gassed and starved and beaten and murdered and enslaved. [...] They will eat them Mandus, they will make pigs of you all and they will bury their snouts into your ribs and they will eat your hearts!
Oswald Mandus is a play on Ozymandias, referencing his obsession with making his factory the "great work of the industrial age".
"A Machine for Pigs" has dual meanings. It refers both to Mandus' meat factory, and Mandus' personal metaphor for the coming industrialization of tyranny and war in the 20th century: a world-spanning machine that turns all of humanity into pigs for the slaughter.
Mercy Kill: Mandus believed he killed his children out of mercy, considering their fates in the coming century, and the Engineer wishes to apply the same logic to all of humanity.
Misanthrope Supreme: Mandus. Journal entries and flashbacks are littered with his comments of both pity and disgust for the human condition.
Missing Trailer Scene: Remember that scene in the trailer where Mandus cowers under a stairway while a squealing, snorting manpig batters its way into the room? Wasn't that scary? Too bad this never actually happens in-game.
Mission Pack Sequel: Averted. Was intended to be a small Gaiden Game with some experimental gameplay set in the Amnesia universe. However, as the writing for the project grew, the developers realized that the game had to grow along with it. The result is something closer in breadth of scope to the original game.
Mobile Maze: Some of the architecture changes as Mandus moves through the corridors of the machine. He might go into a small side area, only to turn around and have a much longer backtrack through a series of unfamiliar halls, or going into a small cul-de-sac might have a different exit when he turns back around.
Mystery Meat: It's implied multiple times that not all the "pigs" slaughtered in Mandus' meat factory are actually pigs.
Nightmarish Factory: Mandus' meat factory, which is full of blood and guts, and filled with terrifying pig monsters.
No Canon for the Wicked: Several notes imply that either Alexander or Daniel was Oswald's great-uncle, and that he based his work on their experiments and the Servant bodies found in the castle. Given that Alexander wasn't human or had a sister, it certainly rules him out, leaving Daniel as the uncle, as he is British, like Mandus, and has a sister. Since Daniel's sister Hazel only survives and lives past fifteen in the case that Daniel takes Agrippa's head, and in the only other ending where Daniel lives the castle of Brennenburg is destroyed by the Shadow, it's heavily implied that the Good Ending to The Dark Descent is canon.
Non-Action Guy: Like Daniel, Oswald is up against monsters that can easily murder him, but he is at an even more of a disadvantage given his profession as a businessman and significant age difference. Subverted at the end of the game, where he murders a manpig and powers through being heavily injured in order to stop the Engineer.
Nonstandard Game Over: If you enter a section of the machine after the attack on London before neutralizing the manpig in there, you are treated to a short cutscene of said manpig killing you before you can react. Justified since you have to complete a puzzle in there and you can't run back to where you came from, so the game just shoves you back to the previous checkpoint.
Type III is used majorly throughout all of the outdoors segments. You're all alone on the deserted streets of the London, with less that one tenth of it's population today, and even though you can't see them, you know the manpigs are watching, but instead of attacking, they just watch your every move.
Nursery Rhyme: Mandus' dialogue in one of his flashbacks alludes to a particular nursery rhyme. Which one? "This Little Piggy", of course. Though evidently, having roast beef wasn't one of his options:
Mandus:I am off to market. I will cry all the way home. I will have none, I will have none at all.
Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The developers freely admit that A Machine For Pigs was an odd name for a sequel to a horror game, but the more they thought about it, the more that they liked it. They kept the name in part because it was so odd, that it would stick out in people's minds, and not fit into a neatly defined category for what people expect.
Offing the Offspring: After seeing his children would die horrifically in World War I, Mandus cut out their hearts as a ritual sacrifice in hopes of creating a god who could save the world from the horrors of the 20th century.
Paint the Town Red: After the manpigs go on their rampage through London's streets, Mandus must venture back down into the machine, passing the "Tripery" on the way. This is the place where all the blood runoff from bleeding out the "products" being processed gets run through. He passes pipes gushing with outflows of blood, through channels of rushing blood, and finally wading through what amounts to a small lake's worth of blood to exit. All this goes to show just how many people have been "processed" in the last few minutes.
Pig Man: The monsters chasing the protagonist, which angrily squeal as they batter down doors. Mandus even refers to them as manpigs.
Psychological Horror: Like the first game, but more so. The survival elements are downplayed this time around, while the psychological elements are played up. This was in part to play to thechineseroom's strengths telling interactive narratives, and in part because they wanted to distinguish it from the original game, saying that making the gameplay too familiar would just make the player more comfortable and undercut the horror.
Purple Prose: Oswald seems to enjoy writing like this, as it is seem both in the pages he does not remember writing and in his in-game journal.
Rage Against the Heavens: While not his sole motivation, Oswald Mandus blamed God for his wife's death and wanted to create a new god to replace him.
Redemption Equals Death: To protect all of London from becoming sacrifices to the Engineer, Mandus re-merges with his creation, killing them both.
Resources Management Gameplay: Averted, unlike the original game, as there is no inventory, no tinderboxes, no oil limits on your lantern this time around. The developers have said that as a Survival Horror game, they are easing up a bit on the "survival" elements to shift more of their creative attention to the "horror" elements.
Schedule Slip: Originally planned for release in Halloween of 2012, then "Early 2013", then "Q2 2013", then "It'll be ready when it's ready". It finally came out on September 10, 2013, almost a year after it's original intended release.
Serial Killer: Mandus' first sanity effect comes from finding the teeth of several victims of what is implied to be a serial killer. A few hours later Mandus finds out it was.
Screw Destiny: Mandus and the Engineer's original goal was to avert the horrifying wars and genocides of the coming century.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Female-voiced soft opera music will often play over scenes of squalor and slaughter. Justified via Source Music, as the music is played over speakers in the machine as part of the process of soothing the "products" and keeping them calm as they traverse down the pigline.
Start X to Stop X: Kill millions to stop millions from dying in the coming decades. Though of course, the Engineer and Mandus were both out of their minds.
Steam Punk: The visuals of the game use a lot of gears and cogs. They are even present in the game's logo.
Straw Nihilist: Oswald's diary notes and audio records, pre-amnesia, seem to give this impression, deriding humanity as fallen and lost, and how civilization is just slipping further and further into its own self-destructive rot. This despair being the reason he could feel so little remorse for sacrificing so many of them to bring about a new world.
Talking Is a Free Action: Or, at least, writing in your journal. Whilst pumping some gas, there's a Jump Scare from the resident evil-demon-creature-things, and any sane player will finish the pumping, grab the gas can and haul ass. Mandus, on the other hand, takes the time to write in his journal!
Dear sweet Lord of all that is good and holy! I must make my escape, grasp this container and its putrid contents and flee this place for that creature, that nearly-man returns. I will head for the church, surely such an abomination could not follow onto hallowed ground!
Title Drop: The game's subtitle comes up in one of Mandus' journals, and is a running phrase through the entire story.
Mandus: This world is a machine. A machine for pigs. Fit only for the slaughtering of pigs.
The Engineer drops this line in-game after tricking Mandus into releasing the manpigs to slaughter the people of London.
Tragic Monster: The manpigs. A significant number of them are mentally disabled people, and the rest is comprised of people Mandus considered to have nobody that would care if they went missing. In the manpigs' lair, there are windows that allow you to see into their rooms. Most sit on the floor playing with letters or sleeping, but one manpig is huddled up in a corner, weeping to himself. It puts into perspective why the manpigs try to murder Mandus, at least some of them aren't just murderous, they see the man who turned them into a monster and want to kill him.
Trophy Room: Full of preserved large game, such as a bear, a hippo, and a large anteater, contained in glass displays.
Victorian London: The setting for the game is New Years Eve in London, 1899. While London has always been important to the main character of all previous Frictional Games, this is the first one to feature it as a setting. Unlike the Closed Circle of Castle Brennenburg in the first game, this location will have the player venture outside of a single building and explore the fog-shrouded streets, implying a somewhat wider circle.
Villain Protagonist: Mandus killed his own children, created a Mad God from his soul who murdered thousands, and performed horrifying experiments on humans and animals.
The Voice: "The Engineer", a mysterious presence who contacts Mandus via telephone lines set about the environment, urging him onward.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Engineer and formerly Oswald genuinely believe the horrifying sacrifices made were necessary to protect mankind from an even worse fate, the unspeakable carnage of the 20th century's countless wars and genocides.
Engineer: Mandus, please. I am no more evil than you. We sought the same thing, to save humanity, ridding them of their painful, stupid, pointless lives.
The end of this letter◊ from an orphanage matron to Mandus, thanking him for providing her starving children with food.
Matron: I hope you will find our children full of promise. They will, I assure you sir, make the most wonderful additions to your product line.
When the Halloween trailer was released, the last exchange in it was a Wham Line at the time.
Professor: My dear Mr. Mandus, I admire your vision, I truly do— but there are surely not enough pigs in the whole of London to feed the appetite of such a machine. Mandus: That all rather depends, Professor, on what one considers to be a pig.