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Review of Amnesia: Rebirth. It will be scary, but not for long


Review of Amnesia: Rebirth

In 2007, Frictional Games with its Penumbra: Overture , in fact, invented a separate subgenre of horror: with a view from the eyes, interactive environments and a mentally unstable protagonist. Then the Swedes found the perfect gameplay formula, which still very few people manage to repeat. And this is despite the fact that the studio has a lot of imitators. But how does this approach work now?Amnesia: Rebirth proves great. At least in places.

50 first nightmares

Writing this review was not easy. The fact is that it is almost impossible to clearly tell someone about the plot of Amnesia: Rebirth and not spoil the future fun of the game. It is history that plays a significant role here, if not the main one. And some of the chips are better to see on your own. But still I will try to do without spoilers.

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We have to play for Tasi Trianon (her full name is Anastasia). In 1937, the plane with the expedition, which included Tasi, crashed in the Algerian desert. The heroine comes to her senses, but none of her fellow travelers is nearby. And worse, she realizes that she doesn't remember anything at all.

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The premise is banal, but it doesn't really mean much. The game as a whole is about something else, although we learn about it already in the process. The plot is presented mainly through short flashbacks (the heroine has lost her memory, therefore we learn about all the events with her), numerous notes and audio diaries. Not that this is the only way to convey the story to the players - there are also quite cheerful cutscenes in the game, albeit very few of them - but in 2020 this approach is a little disappointing.

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The game definitely lacks staging. And not only in terms of storytelling, but also in gameplay. Rare spectacular scenes like the escape from monsters only add contrast, once again emphasizing the uneven pace. To be fair, these short episodes, which occur several times during the game, are implemented perfectly - getting into a dead end or choosing the wrong path is almost impossible, but it does not feel like the game is rolling on rails. It would seem that they are small scenes that take a few minutes in a many-hour passage - but they are remembered. You just need to endure the dull beginning: after wandering in the pitch darkness of the caves, the heroine gets to an abandoned fortress - and then begins what it is worth playing this kind of horror.

What cannot be taken away from Frictional Games is the ability to escalate the situation. First of all, this is the merit of the amazing work with sound. Thanks to the interactive environment, even background noise in Amnesia: Rebirth is perceived differently than in "static" horror. In addition to the standard ambient creaks and rustles, the heroine herself can make so much noise that her soul will go to her heels - she just needs to hook on some vase in an empty hall.

So Amnesia: Rebirth is really scary. True, not for long. And the point here is not in the short duration (the game can be completed without much hurry, in about eight hours), but in the concept itself.

Cosmic horror

As before, if you look at monsters, corpses and other unpleasant things for a long time, this will be very painful for the heroine's state of mind. When the level of fear rises, Tasi begins to see and hear ... let's say, everything. This is not to say that it is very scary, but it definitely creates discomfort, which you try to get rid of as soon as possible. Anastasia even hears voices, even if it's still not a level Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice .

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You can also go crazy from a long wandering in the darkness. To somehow control yourself, you need to be in the light. A lamp and matches help with this. The latter are few, they burn out almost instantly, but they can light torches, candles and lamps scattered across locations.

As for stealth and encounters with monsters, there are not so many of them here. They don't even pull full mechanics. In most cases, it is enough just to hide in a far corner and try not to go crazy with fear. It works at first. But soon you realize that it is not the monsters that scare you, but you yourself. Unlike, for example. Five Nights at Freddy's , in Amnesia: Rebirth, meeting a monster face to face is not an apotheosis of tension, but rather a disappointment. Moreover, it is impossible to lose completely here. Even if panic still takes over the heroine, nothing terrible will happen - just continue from the checkpoint.

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Another component of local fear is perceived much more organically - the very nature of the story. Amnesia: Rebirth is an emotionally heavy piece. It was hard to endure not only Tasi's personal tragedy, but also the atmosphere of cosmic horror, a feeling of helplessness in front of a supernatural force. Three possible endings to match the plot - very ambiguous, I must say, but ideally suited to this game.

Even the design of extraterrestrial locations (do not count as a spoiler), which is beyond praise, presses on the psyche. But the interactive environment, which has become an integral part of the series, is, of course, not impressive by modern standards. Objects can be lifted, twisted and thrown in different directions - just like ten years ago. After Half-Life: Alyx such an interactive experience is perceived as a kindergarten.

Some puzzles are built on the same interaction . Opening a door, inserting or removing an object is all pretty primitive.

Although, it is worth noting, some of the techniques still work flawlessly. So, searching for things in endless boxes and buckets does not bother you in the least. Especially considering that oil and matches are constantly in short supply. Therefore, to find the cherished red box under the next bag is a real salvation.

Despite the control problems, outdated mechanics and mediocre graphics, Amnesia: Rebirth is still scary to hell. The game can hardly be recommended to everyone, but lovers of interactive horror and personal stories cannot miss the new horror from Frictional Games.