The creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent set out to make one of the scariest games ever. They did.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
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Architecture & Levels
- The ambient music for the game does a great job of creating an unsettling and foreboding atmosphere. Some tracks involve haunting choirs while others feature ominous moaning. Overall the soundtrack can give out a heightened sense of paranoia.
- The zone simply named "Archives" can be deeply unsettling the first time. Ambient noise is put to good effect and the deep bellow of a monster can be heard at times as if it is around the corner, and in truth, there is nobody there. You are never in danger of dying here, but you may be afraid that you are. Also, the piano in the main hall can be heard playing when you are in another room — but it stops when you get close to it.
- The ambient soundtrack of the Archives sounds like it may be just the wind blowing through the corridors, but if the track is listened to on its own, volume boosted, it sounds like a chorus of defeated, moaning undead. If you listen closely, it sounds like a Brute is providing some of the vocals.
- The Cellar Archives is one of the first dangerous areas of the game. The whole area gets flooded and there is an invisible water monster chasing you. You need to safely navigate your way without stepping into the water and you sometimes have to toss severed body parts to distract the monster. At the final corridor, there are fewer objects to stand on to avoid the water so you have to Run or Die. Additionally, the music in this level is absolutely terrifying since it sounds like the screams of tortured souls.
- Three words: Back Hall Fountain. Okay, it's a bit creepy at first (Look at its face for God's sake!◊), but then it gets progressively worse◊. Not even the calm music playing in the background can save you now.
- While the guest room may seem like a safe area, it becomes incredibly terrifying after you manage to find the hidden key. A grunt appears and you need to quickly hide in the closet and hope it doesn't discover you.
- The "Storage" is a nasty wake-up call for players. The darkness approaches pitch-black in many areas, and Servant Grunts show up relatively frequently to send you running to hide. This was the area where Daniel murdered a little girl and you hear her residual heart-breaking sobs and encounter audio flashbacks of her begging for mercy before being stabbed to death. When you approach the scene of the murder, you are greeted by a nasty Jump Scare.
- The Prison Level. Most people give up in sheer terror because the place is swarming with monsters, and is very dark and claustrophobic. The servant encounters within this area are incredibly terrifying. Some would show up when you climb up the stairs and others might appear in the cells that you try to hide in.
- The Morgue room is filled with disturbing moments. There is a room full of bones and you can hear the echoes of a man who was trapped there screaming for help. There some rooms where there are corpses piled onto each other and being in those rooms will drain your sanity. You need to vaccinate yourself to progress through the game and that involves creating a makeshift syringe and injecting yourself with the blood of a recently deceased man. To top it all off, there is a sudden brute encounter after vaccinating yourself.
- The "Transept" can be considered pretty and well lit with cyan light coming through the giant cathedral windows; this is in contrast to this area's sibling wing, "The Choir". However, this cathedral area contrasts with the three torture rooms connected to it, as if the "Transept" is celebrating the agony of the prisoners. A portion of Alexander's journal is found up a spiral stairway, discussing the art of torturing victims slowly for maximum effect.
- The Choir. It's huge. It's open. It's easy to get lost in. And there are Brutes everywhere. There are no dark places to hide in either; when one appears, all you can do is duck behind one of the room's many pillars and hope he doesn't come too close. The three rooms you're supposed to go into will drain your sanity just by being inside them, and they're loaded with Schmuck Bait that will reduce you to a gibbering wreck quickly.
- In one flashback, Wilhelm and his men are invited by Alexander to drink wine down in the cellar only find themselves locked in the room. After they drink the tainted wine, Body Horror ensues as their bones begin to twist and their bodies burst. You can find chunks of flesh scattered around the room they were in.
- The room where the first vitae experiments took place. It's essentially a taxidermy room, with a severed dog's head in it. The room immediately after that has a cupboard with at least 3 dead bodies, all nothing but bones. Plus, in the background, there's the residual haunting of another dog yelping in pain or terror.
- The torture chambers are packed to the brim with this. The accompanying diagrams do not help matters.
- A bronze bull that's hollow inside, with the makings of a campfire beneath it. The game explains precisely what the Baron and Daniel use this for, if the implication wasn't enough for players to get on their own. Oh, and by all means — light the campfire set up beneath the bull. The result is here. And the worst part? Those bulls were not invented by the developers. Those things were actually used in real life.
- One thing people forget to mention is that the brazen bull was designed with a brass horn-like instrument in its mouth. The horn sounded like a call of a bull. You can imagine that is hard to breathe in the bull, so the occupant used the horn to inhale and exhale oxygen which gave it that horrible sound. The occupant would try to avoid the part that was in direct contact with the fire, but, because of the nature of metal and the fact the victim was usually naked, this did not help much. All that occurred was the victim prolonging their own life while entertaining or putting the fear of God into guests.
- Cramped cells that aren't even big enough to lie down in... and are conveniently connected via pipe at the ceiling to the cell next door, allowing the victim in Cell 1 to hear the agonized screams of the victim in Cell 2.
- A room that contains nothing more than a heavy, iron weight with chains attached to it, along with a pulley system connected to another set of chains. Just give the winch a few cranks and see what happens.
- A classic Iron Maiden, which pops open as you approach it, giving a Shining-esque sequence of blood spilling forth. The flashback contains textual Eye Scream.
- A place to string someone up by their legs... a diagram placed next to it shows two men using a lumberjack saw to saw from the groin to the chest... Also done in real life for apostasy. Adding to this was a flashback (thankfully, in text form rather than visual) in which the saw became lodged in the man's hip, and they couldn't get it loose.
- You know that pyramid-shaped object you find in one of the rooms? It's called the Judas Cradle, invented during the Spanish Inquisition. Want to know how it works? You hang the person by their torso and feet, they're stripped naked, and there are several techniques on how to use it. You can drop the victim onto the pyramid or slowly lower them onto the tip so that they sit there for an extended period of time. The pyramid is basically acting like a spreader. You want more details? Machines of Malice looked at it best and shows how it WORKED. (Please note, that it starts up about this particular piece at around 8:02.)
- Perhaps the most disturbing part is how Daniel willingly believed every assertion that the Baron told him in regards to their victims' crimes.Daniel: *Cutting into the chest of a still-alive man* Paint the man, cut the lines. Cut the flesh, watch the blood spill — let it come! *mockingly* "Please, I didn't do anything! Blah Blah Blah!"
- In the Archives, there's a nasty scare that can create a fear of wandering off exploring. Near the end of the Archives key-Fetch Quest, there's a chance that you'll just miss a figure wandering towards the exit, provoking you to investigate the other end of the "foyer". However, if you instead decide to head in the opposite end of the "foyer", a Gatherer is suddenly behind you, gurgling, wandering towards you. You likely turn around quickly and learn the hard way, what the grunts look like before it vanishes. It's all a hallucination, but it gets the Paranoia Fuel ignited.
- In some of the areas in the game, you could hear distant moans of agony from the former prisoners, women begging for mercy, dogs howling in pain, and children crying.
- When you are in low sanity, you would hear noises that aren't there such as rocks and teeth grinding. You would also encounter several cases of Interface Screw such as the screen distorting, your vision blurring, and bugs crawling on the screen. If your sanity is too low, you will become incapacitated.
- In the Cistern, there's a container. When you first go near it, you can hear incomprehensible muttering from inside. When you turn the valves elsewhere in the room, water begins to pour in — and the muttering turns into anguished howling. Once all the valves are open, the voice goes silent. So apparently, by opening those valves you unintentionally drowned someone.
- More subtle than most of the examples here, but still quite worthy of noting: the game's Sanity Meter is a graphic of a brain, and if you mouse over it you get a brief description of your state. These descriptions can include stuff like "hands shaking and head pounding". If your sanity is low? "..."
- In the Choir Entrance if you have low sanity, you would find bodies hanging upside down with bags on their heads. Similarly, in the Transept, you could find corpses hanging in the cages. Some of the corpses might disappear if you turn around.
- Subtle one, but there are portraits of Alexander◊ scattered around the castle. Look at one with low sanity. Just try it◊.
- The Downer Ending of the game is this made even worse when you hear The shadow replay the voices of Daniel and Alexander's victims right before killing Daniel. And Daniel's screams DO NOT make anything better
- Just imagine the intense pain during the reforming into the grunts, including having to have your genitals ripped off or sewn together. It seems like they are Alexander's servants, and they were afflicted by the Shadow. Alexander can still maintain some control over them, as in the ambush at the end of the game. But, that's only when Alexander realizes you are in the castle. The rest of the time the servants want to kill you.
- The terror music, which signifies that a monster is chasing you. Apart from being very bad news whenever it happens, the sound itself is terrifying, sounding like someone screaming bloody murder.
- Servant◊ Brutes◊ in general. As with the grunts, they look horrific with metal jammed in their body (especially their face), the low-groan they make when they're around, and their loud footsteps that make it's difficult to tell where they are. (The "footsteps" are actually drums in the "danger music", but it's hard to tell the first time.) Doesn't help that they can One-Hit Kill you.
- The invisible monster in the flooded basement. Just to reiterate, one of the first and possibly scariest monsters in the game is one YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE. Old uncle Howard must be proud.
- The worst part about the monsters is actually how they appear often enough and yet seldom enough to cause extreme panic and paranoia.
- The Shadow itself is the most terrifying. This... thing, whatever it is, it takes up the entire house. It is never seen aside from the fleshy residue it left behind and there is NOWHERE to hide from it. Nowhere to run, either. Because the Shadow REALLY. IS. EVERYWHERE.
- Near the end of the sewers, there is a brute guarding the exit and you need to distract him by throwing a rock. After it gets distracted, you believe the coast is clear and advance to a doorway. But then the monster notices you and it becomes a desperate chase as you try to reach the ladder and climb to the next area.
- One dedicated fan made a video showing what would happen if a Brute Servant came knocking on your door. You'll never sleep comfortably in your own home ever again.
- Even though he is very friendly and helpful, sometimes too helpful. Agrippa can still give you a Jump Scare the first time you see him.
- The Servants owe a huge part of their creepiness to the fact that, normally, you never really get a good look at them (if you can see them, your vision blurs, and what's more it makes it easier for them to track you, which serves as a discouragement from peeking at them). Nothing quite as creepy as hiding from a monster which you only know as a vague shape.
- The danger music lets you know that there is a monster nearby. When you choose to hide, the music will continue to play even if the monster has already left. The only way to find out if the monster is gone is to exit your hiding spot and hope that you are safe.
- The suitors are a very horrifying enemy in this DLC. While the grunts are like meat puppets, the suitors are just regular people horribly tortured into what they are; there no supernatural means used on them. Their eyes are gouged out and they have chains on their limbs and cartwheels somehow attached on their necks. The sounds of their heavy breathing and gasps are very unnerving as well.
- After successfully passing through the first test, you escape through a small crawlspace. When you go through the tunnel, you begin to hear the suitors and the music becomes more frightening. Despite the fact that you are in no danger at all, the game manages to trick you into believing you are being pursued.
- Out of all the suitors, Malo is the most terrifying. He has been driven so insane, that he wants to eat Justine after becoming tired of eating his own flesh. He explains everything he wants to do to Justine in a creepily soft and gleeful tone, all the while Laughing Mad. The encounter with him is incredibly nerve-wracking, as you have to solve a machinery puzzle while he smashes the door. When he begins to chase you, you have to escape through a door that opens slowly and have to navigate through a corridor filled with boxes with him in close pursuit. There is also no use in hiding from him as he is able to find you despite being blind.
- Some of the messages written in blood in Amnesia Justine are REALLY screwed up. Some that stick out are "Death shall move across the floor", "They who burrow waits beneath", "Stay alive", "Lonely", "Suffer the trial" Made worse by the fact you sanity meter will decrease the moment you enter the tunnels and won't stop going down until you find the exit. What could possibly have gone through Justine's twisted mind to make her write those messages... In blood, no less.
- After dealing with a rather annoying puzzle involving slides, you proceed to a large storage room that is rather well-lit. Then, a sudden gust extinguishes all lighting in the room, and the door inexplicably locks behind you. Then, the uncanny combination of clanking chains and wheezing heralds the beginning of a monstrous hide-and-seek game against a blind foe who attempts to track you through sound. Pray you don't slip and knock over a chair. To emphasize the danger you are in, Justine, who up to this point remained unperturbed by the horrors she has witnessed, is now fighting (unsuccessfully) to suppress her fear. This can result in situations where the creature is not two meters away, and you are trying to desperately drag yourself away from the gasping abomination.
- "La Caza"
- At one point you receive a key from a person behind a locked door. When you enter the room, there is no sign of the mysterious person, instead, it is full of suits of armor. When you activate a mechanism to open the gate, the suits begin to follow you and the next corridor you pass will have tons of them that stand motionlessly. It gets From Bad to Worse when you encounter the infamous water monster in the next chamber.
- After a heart-stopping chase with a brute, you enter a library of fallen bookshelves. A moment later, the brute follows you into the library and it becomes a terrifying moment of hide-and-seek.
- In the mod "White Night", you're walking up a flight of stairs after (maybe) finding a key when you suddenly see a note... And it tells you to run and not look back... Suddenly, creepy music begins playing as loud sounds sound from behind you...
- The 'Tenebris Lake' mod has some pretty horrific moments, due to the new monsters. The most common monster for one looks like a rotten corpse and hits like a Brute. The "goat" monster you find later in the game. Even Agrippa is made terrifying due to being locked in a room with him and after a short while, he breaks free of his chains and attacks you. Also if you have claustrophobia, you will hate near the end of the game where you have to navigate through a small tunnel. Especially when it starts caving in, and later when a corpse starts chasing you.
- The 'Things in the night' as a whole. Not only are Brutes more common, the Suitors also make an appearance and there are flaming corpses that can hit you like a Grunt. From jump scares involving armors and statues, giant spiders, many jump scares from corpses and absolutely chilling environments, to the many horrifying moments, sudden warnings that something is coming to get you, monsters that can appear at ANY time, and the fact that, no matter what you do, there's no good end to the story. Particularly, in the basement of one of the houses you visit, you can find a gigantic spider with tons of corpses literally hanging around the basement, with smaller, but still huge spiders over the corpses. And these dangling corpses are all over the mansion, covered in the Shadow's Meat Moss. You can only wonder what exactly all of those corpses went through...
- The Disponentia custom story, which takes place in a haunted house. First, there's a scene right at the beginning where a woman is seen playing a piano in a room lit only by red lights...and the woman suddenly turns to the screen and lunges at you. And the house that serves as the main scenario for the game is haunted by said woman who can strike you anytime...anywhere... all while an unidentifiable noise is heard. Then, when you head to the second floor, you see it's quite dark... and then a freakin' Servant Brute comes out of nowhere running at a speed faster than you can react to. And it happens ''twice'' Granted, this part is only a Jump Scare, but still damn horrifying.
- The stone maze from the 'Lost the lights' mod. Take a wrong route, you get a Jump Scare involving the transformed Alexander portrait. Try another route, and you get surrounded by Servant Brutes and Grunts with no chance of escape. They literally come out of NOWHERE.
- "The Cruel ways of Dr. Richard Jones" mod, period. Nothing Is Scarier personified, with a Jump Scare on each corner while you venture through an empty mansion...all while NO MUSIC PLAYS, adding even more fuel for the fear.
- The "Gustav" mod. Two words: Giant. Agrippa.◊.
- "Emma's story" has one of the most horrifying moments out of all the Custom Stories. You need to find drill parts to proceed at one point, and all of the parts are within the Torture Chambers. Wouldn't be so bad... except you have to go through hallucinations of going through the tortures caused by the devices, including the Brazen Bull, an Iron Maiden and the worst of them, The device where you get hung upside down and sawed through your pelvis. Did we mention that we get a full description of what the people who actually suffered those tortures felt back then, the most disturbing of them being the last one, where the tortured mentions blood rushing to his head, making it take longer for him to bleed to death?
- "The Great Work"
- The cells in chapter I contain plenty of dark corridors with very little oil and tinderboxes you could use. What makes this area even more terrifying is the music added to this area. There is even a Jump Scare when you open a cell only to discover a Grunt hallucination.
- When you are looking for 3 different rods to power the orbs in a basement. There will be a persistent monster that roams the area, no pressure there.
- The Intelligencers. These enemies are robed men wearing animal skulls that speak in a Black Speech. What makes these guys even more terrifying is that they are difficult to hide from once spotted, not even the closet is a safe hiding spot from them.
- The main monster in this custom story is a ghostly woman with glowing white eyes and a drooping jaw. Her crying moans are coupled with the screams of her child victims. She can kill you in one hit so you must stay in the dark to avoid being detected.
- In one area of the game, you have to search for a special fungus down in a cellar. What makes this level unnerving is that it has pitch black corridors with flickering lanterns. There is very little sound aside from the monster's ghostly wail.
- The backstory - a down on his luck stage magician purchased an automaton at an auction house that can spell out the names of dead family members. However, he quickly discovered that in order for it to work, he needed to sacrifice humans to it. More specifically, human children. After some time, he grew sick of what he was doing, and sought out a way to exorcise the spirit from the automaton, kidnapping and sacrificing the protagonist's younger brother to keep the spirit distracted while he did so. Judging by the state of his corpse when you find him, it seems that the spirit caught on and decided to feed on him, too.