I reviewed Amnesia: The Dark Descent last month. Released in 2010, Amnesia quickly became a classic in the survival horror genre, and is arguably one of the most popular indie games of all time.
With such popularity, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was made. A few weeks ago, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was released, just in time for the Halloween season. Let’s take a look.
The main protagonist of A Machine for Pigs is Oswald Mandus, a wealthy industrialist looking for his two children. Of course, he has amnesia, waking from a coma to find himself alone in his enormous mansion.
The gameplay is very similar to the original, though simplified. The inventory is gone, and your lantern no longer requires oil. You can still pick up and read notes, as well as drag around boxes and other items, though there seem to be far less items that can be interacted with this time. As before, you have no means to attack and must hide from enemies.
Rather than the Gothic castle of the original, this time there’s more variety in locations. There’s the mansion, hidden passageways, factories, and even outdoor locations this time. The game is set in 1899, right at the turn of the century, so there’s a sense of elegance to everything.
Mandus is a former butcher who now owns a meat processing plant, so much of the game features an oppressive industrial atmosphere. These areas are often claustrophobic and thick with the sounds of gears, pistons, and steam.
There’s lots of pig imagery throughout the game, fittingly enough. Ornate pig masks are seen throughout the game (often appearing from out of nowhere), and there’s no shortage of pig carcasses lying around. Notes and recordings often compare humans to swine, and then of course there are the enemies.
This time around the enemies are pig-men. Pigs and pig-men have become pretty common in horror, but honestly these guys just don’t do it for me. I had said that the monsters in the first game look pretty ridiculous once you get a good look at them, but you still dread every encounter with them. I didn’t get the same sense of dread from these guys.
And overall, that’s something I noticed was missing from this game: dread. At no point did I feel the same level of apprehension I got from the first game. Like before, the game kind of plods along at the beginning… but with the first one, the slow buildup helped build suspense. Here, I was just wishing that something would happen already.
That said, it’s still a very good game, and worthy of the Amnesia title. The atmosphere is there, the story is intriguing, and I’m glad they genuinely tried to do something different this time around. But for those hoping for a game as terrifying as the original, you may feel let down. That, plus the simplified gameplay, make the game a bit more accessible and “casual” than the original.
I give Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs four Jimmy Smits out of five.