“Amnesia Rebirth” has finally launched 7 years after “Frictional Games” last entry in the series. So how does it hold up? Is it as scary as its predecessors? Let’s take a look at this brand new horror experience and see. While this review is mostly spoiler-free I must warn that it does spoil one minor detail about Tasi. If you do not wish to be spoiled, at least play through the first 30 or so minutes of the game.
The Good: A Delicious Story, New Gameplay
“Amnesia Rebirth” takes players across the world to Algeria. You play as Tasi Trianon who finds herself alone after an apparent plane crash. True to its name, you suffer from a case of amnesia as you struggle to find the rest of your expedition. Luckily there are clues to help you recover your lost memories.
The story is presented through notes you find scattered around the game. You can view these notes to unlock memories. Memories help paint a bigger picture of who Tasi is as well as the rest of the expedition. These memories are accompanied by hand-sketched drawings from Tasi herself. Each picture has vital information blurred out which only gets revealed as you unlock the memory. You can view the blurred photos before you unlock them. So you’ll always have a small hint of what comes next or rather, what happened before.
The narrative of “Amnesia Rebirth” is one of the highlights of the game. The story alone is a great incentive to keep playing. Unlocking memories is satisfying and as you get to know Tasi you’ll grow to care about her struggle.
Ambiance and Aethstetic
Amnesia Rebirth is somewhat Aesthetically different from its predecessors. While the first two games were set in dark closed-off locations, Rebirth starts off in a sunny desert. Regardless, Amnesia Rebirth still makes you feel alone as you venture away from light and into the dark.
Much of the game is filled with red hues and warm colors. The caverns and the architecture make you feel like you are playing “Uncharted”. However, there are still moments where you return to those bluish cooler colors which take you out of one world and into another.
One of the most important aspects of any horror game is the sound department. Take the sound out of any horror game and you might get spooked by the jumpscares. Have a good ambiance and you’ll find yourself filled with dread as you wander alone through dark corridors. “Amnesia Rebirth” does this brilliantly.
A Pregnant Protagonist
It is quite rare for any videogame to have a pregnant protagonist. “Amnesia Rebirth” uses this to add urgency and a sense of fragility to Tasi. About 30 minutes into the game you will discover that Tasi has a baby bump. Suddenly you realize you’re not just trying to escape the horrors around you. You are also trying to save your unborn child.
While this piece of information could just be used as a plot device, “Amnesia Rebirth” treats it as a gameplay mechanic. You can feel your stomach by pressing the “X” key. Doing so will give you extra dialogue and slightly reduce your fear meter.
Matches are the new tinderboxes. Lighting a match is crucial to warding off the fear. You can find these matches laying around on shelves or inside boxes. Lighting a match feels realistic and thus introduces different mechanics to the gameplay. Unlike tinderboxes, lighting a match can be used as a temporary source of light.
The longer the flame stays lit the more the match will burn away until it eventually goes out. While holding a lit match, you can use it to light as many candles as you like until it burns out. However, be careful not to move around too quickly or too sporadically. Matches will only burn out faster the more you move.
This is a fine addition to the gameplay mechanics. This more realistic approach adds more urgency when lighting a match. Matches cannot be hoarded either. There is a cap of how many matches you can keep on you at all times so you never feel too well equipped.
The Bad: Not Enough Horror
A Very Chatty Protagonist
The original Amnesia featured a silent protagonist. Much of the story was given through notes or dialogue between characters from various memories. However, the protagonist for the most part never said much during the duration of the adventure. This allows players to slip into the situation more easily.
Tasi narrating throughout the journey can be a hit or miss for some gamers. On one hand, it enhances the storytelling and the narrative. On the other hand, it does break the immersion of a tense moment with all her talking. I would not necessarily call this bad but it can be dividing. Consider this a negative or a positive depending on your taste.
Recalling the original Amnesia, the first puzzle was a chemical combination. You needed to go into different rooms and find 4 different chemicals. Along the way, you would play around with bookshelves, and break barriers. Even with monsters, there was a challenge such as avoiding touching the water or throwing books to confuse the creature.
Amnesia Rebirth doesn’t have the same kind of puzzles. Many of Rebirth’s puzzles are pretty straight forwards. Solutions and key items are usually nearby and for the first 40 minutes of the game, you really don’t encounter any puzzles at all. Unless of course, you count pulling out your amulet whenever the light prompts you to. Maybe briefly pushing rocks out of the way counts as a puzzle too. Later on, you will encounter a few better puzzles. However, it does feel a bit linear as you travel from point A to point B.
The Monster around…. the corner?
I will have to admit that despite its brilliant narrative, Amnesia Rebirth does falter a bit when it comes to its scares. While the atmosphere and sound work are amazing, it sometimes lacks that extra push to make you fall off your chair. Not to say the game is devoid of scares, but it does lack that little something extra that Amnesia: The Dark Descent had. There is a finite amount of instances where images flashing on the screen will scare you. Especially when the fear meter gives you a heads up of when it will happen.
In conclusion, Amnesia Rebirth is not as scary as its predecessor. However, where it lacks in scares and puzzles it makes up for with a brilliant narrative. It does something new with its gameplay and also adds something new to the genre. I would have to give it a 3.5 out of 5 but I still highly recommend experiencing it for yourself.