This week it’s fair to say that the horror game has made somewhat of a small comeback in PC gaming, with Outlast being released and now Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. These two titles have brought back atmosphere and more importantly upped the fear factor, with some saying A Machine for Pigs is one of the scariest games in a long time, a claim which may be true.
In movies it’s fair to say that many horror fans have become desensitised to “fear” especially as we almost know what to expect, but with games when if the atmosphere and style choices are right they manages to tap into our almost primal fear of the things that go bump in the night. This is something that Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs does well, especially when the things that bump decide to chase you down the corridors of an industrialised Victorian slaughter house.
Set in 1899 you play the part of Oswald Mandus who wakes up one night knowing his children are in danger and he needs to save them. Haunted by events on a trip to Mexico you now inhabit a mansion on the factory ground, which holds a huge machine with a dark secret. With the ground shaking beneath you and your children pleading for you to come save them it’s up to you to find the secrets your mind is hiding and save your children.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a good old fashioned horror story set in what appears to be a haunted house. As you search for your children you constantly feel that you yourself are being stalked, in typical horror style footsteps and the sound of children’s laughter haunt you, and even though it’s obvious this isn’t going to end well you still move on. Horror fans will recognise all the usual tropes that are overused in films like this, but when it comes to putting it into game form it tends to work because you become more emotionally attached to the story and are made to feel that you are a part of what you see on the screen, not merely being a casual bystander.
With A Machine for Pigs for the most part it’s all about atmosphere and a strong story. The puzzles that you will face aren’t really that complex but this was something I tended to enjoy as it allowed the story to move at a good pace. Weapon less and only given a lantern (which unlike in Amnesia: The Dark Descent never runs out) the more you progress in the game the more action based you’ll find it is. The first time you find yourself running away from the creatures that inhabit the machine you must travel through is actually quite terrifying and don’t be surprised if it ends in death, though you won’t lose much of the game. This does tend to give you the feeling that there is not much challenge, and once you’ve witnessed the story there won’t be much in the form of replay ability value, but like any good horror tale you may put yourself through it again.
In terms of controls the game can use the PC keyboard and mouse style or gamepad (which I used for my review). The controls are fairly intuitive and any that are needed are given on the screen at just the right moment though it is quite easy to work out for yourself. You’ll find in no time you’ll easily be controlling the character with no problems, which is useful when you need to set switches at different sides of rooms inhabited by creatures out for your blood.
As you progress through the game you’ll hear narration that hints at what is to come, and provides information about the machine itself, but I found that I liked the fact that you won’t know the truth of The Machine until you get to the conclusion and by this time you’ll dread that you know what happened. I won’t give too much away because the point is to experience the events and not to have it spoilt in a review.
If we were to look for negativity in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs it would be that it is fairly linear and the puzzles are basic, but in my view this is not such a bad thing. The game is very much an adventure game that uses atmosphere, music (which is another highlight of the game composed by Jessica Curry) and story to attempt to scare the player, and honestly with the darkness in this tale it is one of the scariest games you’ll play this year, although there will be some major competition when The Evil Within is released. For fans of horror, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is one game that shouldn’t be missed.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is available on PC, Mac and Linux.