Reviews: Amnesia A Machine For Pigs
Can't believe it's called a sequel
It's not even Amnesia anymore. The gameplay was gutted. You don't need to worry about light. No lamp oil, no tinderboxes. Not even the Sanity Meter! I can't even begin to comprehend why they decided to take that out...probably one of the biggest things that helped Amnesia really stand out. Facing monsters isn't scary; you "regen" health if you're hit, and if you ARE hit, it's a miracle. Your electric lamp that NEVER runs out of power flickers conveniently when you face a monster. Hell I walked in front of one, got hit, then instead of dying, I was TAKEN TO A CAGE WITH AN OPEN DOOR TO RETRY THE AREA. Are you SHITTING me? I don't even die? Where's the goddamn tension?! It simply doesn't exist. I quit the game before I even got to finish the whole thing. The story was still pretty gross like Amnesia loves it, but that's not really why I played it in the first place. Egh...I guess if you...I dunno, got a fetish for being hit by man-pig things and solving little physical puzzles you'll feel all good inside, then what the hell. Knock yourself out.
A Machine for Sheep
Three years ago, a sleeper hit known as Amnesia won the approval of audiences everywhere. It was so well loved that a group of purists considered it a "true" horror game, stuck their noses in the air, and have denounced every title in the same genre ever since. As a horror game, I felt Amnesia had some awkwardly pacing, needed some better designs for some of the monsters, and had an ending too strange to be satisfying. Still, I admit that it was a very good horror game. I can't say the same thing for Machine for Pigs. To begin with let's talk about video games as a medium. In a video the player overcomes to challenges to win the game. The fun comes from how you approach the challenge and the satisfaction you get from winning. For the first half of the game you are met with no challenges. The rooms are bright enough to see, the lantern will never run out of gas, and the puzzles are too simple for you to feel excited. Oh, and there are no monsters. A creepy atmosphere, without an underlying threat is just an unusual environment. Even when the story finally begins to pick up steam in the second half, its usually just easier to run past enemies than hide or stealthily avoid. This removes tension from the monsters as a threat. When broken down into segments, the game is composed of 50% dark corridors and empty rooms, 30% valves and switches, 15% foreboding notes and recordings, and 5% actual gameplay. The actual scary confrontations took me so long to get to and are so sparsely implemented that I became apathetic to the settings and story in general. Its not even very entertaining to watch the game as dialogue and jump scares are broken up by long pauses of doing mundane chores. But if you love valves (the mechanical device, not the company) and conduits, you will love this game. To sum up, the game is really boring. It has nice visuals, good audio, and the Engineer steals the show in terms of acting but the poor pacing,simplistic gameplay, and shockingly short run time will leave you disappointed by the end. People have more frequently criticized modern horror games for not being "true" but if this is how "true" horror games work, I think I will stick to more plebeian formulas.
Unfortunately, while not *bad*, A:AMFP simply does not live up to its name. If you're expecting a creepier, better-designer and/or better-written A:TDD you will be disappointed. The previews gave that impression, but the end result is very different. The game would probably have been better off if it was not called "Amnesia". The Good:
- Graphics are simple but set the atmosphere very well.
- The voice acting for is also good (minus the children), easily on par with A:TDD.
- The soundtrack is well done, though it does lack a distinctive "crap hits the fan" tune such as the ones in A:TDD or the Penumbra games. The ambient sounds are exceptionally good.
- The premise of the story is better than A:TDD, but the execution is not nearly as convincing. The plot twists are predictable.
- Simplified gameplay and little incentive to explore (see below) mean the game is quite short: maybe 4 hours tops.
- Many gameplay mechanics of the original have been removed: lamp oil, tinderboxes, healing, sanity and even the inventory. Previous Frictional Games titles weren't afraid to dump mechanics that didn't work and introduce new ones. Problem is, A:AMFP doesn't really introduce anything new at all - and this is the main failing of the game, as it leads to a slew of problems. For example:
- You can't manipulate the environment at all unless it's puzzle related.
- No inventory means puzzles are very simple (I only counted one puzzle that went beyond "bring X to Y"), and there is no reason to explore thoroughly.
- No sanity means the horror aspect basically relies on jump scares, shaking the screen, and loud noises. Its scary the first 2-3 times each of these happens, but becomes very predictable very quickly.
- You no longer lose sanity when looking at monsters... which are scary right up until you actually see one up close - they're disappointing to say the least. In addition, no sanity means monsters are much easier to avoid - you can just outrun almost all of them. Stealth isn't really needed, and you can't make barricades.
- Unlike in A:TDD or A:Justine, there are no moral - or any other - choices to be made. There is only one ending. A big disappointment compared to A:TDD's three, each of which reflected how your actions shaped the protagonist's world view.