This video made me excited to try it out. Good promo.
I’ve still not worked up the courage to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent and I pre-ordered it back in the day.
SOMA was amazing, one of my all-time favourites, and I also loved Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague. It’s fascinating to see how far Frictional have come.
I never finished Machine for Pigs (different dev) or started Rebirth.
This looks like they are leaning hard into the survival part of the horror with random loot and a single dynamic monster.
Recommended by Eurogamer.
My thread was like a fine plain dry Qt3 saltine cracker!
Looking forward to final review, personally I didn’t delve in because I invested around 5 hours into Rebirth before giving up out of sheer boredom, and while I finished Machine for Pigs, I found it barely mediocre. SOMA is Frictional’s sole masterpiece, for me anyway.
Cuts deep, I laughed
Did you play the original Amnesia? Machine For Pigs was by The Chinese Room (Dear Esther, Korsakovia, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture). I get the impression that Rebirth is their only ‘misstep’ besides Penumbra: Requiem back in the day. Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague were great, both written by Tom Jubert (his first gig) who went on to Subnautica, FTL, The Talos Principle and The Swapper.
You got further than me, so I’m kind of glad to hear it? I was worried I was missing something.
Part of what has kept me interested in The Bunker is its hub structure and the light-based gameplay. These are both introduced at the outset and they simultaneously give The Bunker a) a sense of structure, and b) a sense of an open world. I barely touched Rebirth, so I don’t know how it’s shaped, but all I saw was linear, like Soma. That made it easy to put down. :(
Really, The Bunker reminds me off the original System Shock, partly because I just played a bit of the System Shock remake. I don’t mean The Bunker is an “immersive sim” – ugh, I hate that term – but it’s just like System Shock’s initial hub layout, minus the combat and inventory stuff. And even though there’s a set sequence through the area, discovering the sequence gives it a nonlinear feel. Heck, there might even be multiple ways through areas for all I know!
But I think the real template here is a hard lean into Alien: Isolation’s touchey-feelie environmental manipulation while under threat of a procedural AI monster, where the combat is more puzzle (?) than combat. At least that’s what I think is going on. Fingers crossed!
Ah, this is all very helpful to know. I did vaguely recall that Machine for Pigs was somehow distinct from the other Amnesias, and I have zero frame of reference for the Pebumbras from, lo, those many years ago. But that’s quite a pedigree from one of its creators!
I found Amnesia: Dark Descent and SOMA are both excellent.
Maybe I dodged a bullet by not playing through Machine for Pigs or Rebirth.
So here’s an example of how Amnesia: The Bunker reveals a gameplay system early on, and I think it says a lot about how different this is from Soma. This could be a minor spoiler, and I enjoyed discovering it on my own, so read on at your own risk.
It seems like you don’t generally get wounded while you’re playing The Bunker. Instead, the monster tends to just instantly kill you; as per the subject header, the mandatory reload of your last saved game is his real – and constant – threat. But I’ve discovered you can get away, and sometimes you can even survive if he just wings you while you’re trying to get away. In fact, I’ve had a few encounters with the monster where I had no idea what was going on because it was dark or I was madly fleeing, and at one point, I even got an achievement for foiling the monster with poison gas. I have no idea how that supposedly happened. So, obviously, it’s not just instafail when the monster shows up. You can also get wounded while doing dumb things like trying to open a locked door with a grenade (if there’s a better way to open locked doors, I haven’t found it yet).
Naturally, you can heal your wounds with bandages and medkits, but why bother if you’re not dead?
The Bunker, which doesn’t seem to have combat and therefore doesn’t care how many hit points you have, has an answer to this question. When you’re wounded, you bleed. If you have the tutorial messages enabled, a quick pop-up will tell you that the monster can smell your blood, and you’re leaving a trail of it on the ground. Which, sure enough, you’ll see if you look down. And to drive home the point, there’s this:
I don’t think these guys appear unless you’re wounded. At which point, they’re pretty darn brazen. I don’t know if they can kill you, but they can further wound you. And they get underfoot and follow you and rear up and sniff at you and hiss angrily and even come into the lit areas where you’re safe from the monster. Above, they’ve actually followed me to the safe area and they block the door when I try to shut it. Jerkwads. One bandage later, I can shoo them away and they’ll lose interest.
So, anyway, that’s how The Bunker does health and healing. Way better than a hit points bar. Heck, it’s even better playing a lady with a hit points tattoo on her boob! (Who can name that game?) The local fauna are keenly interested in whether you’re wounded and will do their best to remind you!
Ha ha, we played Trespasser!
So many bad ideas crammed into one game…
So what I learned from this discussion is that I need to go back and play Soma, which I apparently have in my Epic free library.
My kid wouldn’t stay in the room last night when I was playing this. I told her it was not “that” scary…I was pooping more playing the first Amnesia. I generally don’t like puzzle games so I needed her help a few times but those times were tense…and she almost pooped.
I really like Tom’s “stalked by a mandatory reload” construction here - it nicely encapsulates why horror games of this sort don’t really work for me even though I want them to.