There is nothing to fear, but fear itself. Rubbish. Try walking around a blood-spattered meat factory with nothing to light the way other than a dodgy lamp, and having some nasty monsters hunting you down in the dark. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs aims itself at your sensitive core, the part of you that reaches a panicked frenzy just because you think something should be just round the corner, and then has a meltdown when you realise that there is…
As a sequel to a game I never played, A Machine for Pigs pitches you as a character who wakes up with no idea where they are, how they got there or what’s going on. With cries of anguished loved ones echoing through the building (or are they through your head?) you set out to explore this weird place you’ve found yourself in. It doesn’t take long for the tension to build; just knowing that you’re probably going to jump at some point only goes to build the tension, despite early moments offering up little by way of danger. Itâ€™s the lighting that does it, mixing dark and disorientating areas with partly lit rooms which cast long shadows onto walls and make you question just what might be hiding out of the light. And yet itâ€™s a relatively bright, grand and looked after room which gives you the first truly heart-stopping moment, a stark reminder that letting yourself feel relaxed will only come back to bite you on the ass soon after.
The light can be broken by the discovery of an old lamp early on in the game which gives you some relief from the pitch black moments that become all the more common as you progress through the game. Thatâ€™s not to say youâ€™ll be living with it switched on â€“ you being able to see around you comes at the cost of other things being able to see you, and when the nasties turn up youâ€™ll want to keep yourself as hidden as is realistically possible.
Story-wise A Machine for Pigs is surprisingly strong, just as long as you keep an eye out for clues and scraps of paper which help to push the narrative forwards . It goes a bit nuts near the end, but not in a way that feels unnatural or wrong, with everything that youâ€™ve seen and discovered in the run up to the closing hour it comes as no surprise when it happens and certainly doesnâ€™t make you think that the developers have taken an easy way out. Youâ€™ll get 6 or 7 hours out of this, something which is helped enormously by the lack of any of those always-annoying proper-bastard-hard puzzles that some horror games insist on dropping in from time to time. There are things to figure out, but it wonâ€™t jolt you out of the flow of the game. I like that.
Itâ€™s not the most stunning looking game you can lay your hands on nowadays, but the sound is something fairly spectacular. Whether itâ€™s the echoing creaks and bangs of your surroundings, or the scratching of nearby creatures which youâ€™d much rather werenâ€™t there, a pair of decent headphones will make this whole experience 200% scarier as a result of the great sound design. Thereâ€™s a brilliant use of silence too, which makes things much worse than youâ€™d ever imagine.
A Machine for Pigs then is a very worthwhile addition to the horror genre. Youâ€™ll jump, youâ€™ll probably shout at least once, and youâ€™ll wonder at times just what the hell youâ€™re still playing it for when it makes you feel so on edge, but itâ€™s good fun. A future release in the series might benefit from a slightly more modern game engine, and itâ€™s not the longest game in the world, but that doesnâ€™t stop the time you have being a pretty memorable few hours. Good stuff if you can stand it.
Reviewed on PC