Amnesia: The Dark Descent was developed and published by Frictional Games in 2010 and 2016 respectfully. The game follows the protagonist Daniel, from a horror signature first person perspective, as he ventures through an intimidating and eerie castle he has unknowingly awoken in. The player must avoid monsters and traps as well as solve puzzles in order to gain clues on how to escape and defeat the castle itself. Along the way, the player has to avoid the monsters lurking to protect the secret of the castle itself, as the player is not given any weapons or any way of defending themselves, hiding is your only option for survival.
There are several characters within The Dark Descent that make the game more difficult, challenging and much more terrifying. The most basic of enemies is the Servant Grunt, the simple servants to the previous master of the castle, they are unsightly, strong, fast and extremely terrifying. The 3 clawed monsters can damage the player with a vicious swipe should they get within range, making them much more frightful, especially accompanied with their signature heart stopping music, the only option is to hide and remain out of sight.
Like every horror game, the basic enemies always have an upgraded version of themselves which are, usually, more terrifying, more aggressive and significantly more difficult to avoid. This is true for The Dark Descent as well, the Servant Brute is a basic servant on steroids, as he can wipe out the player with one malicious swipe. The Servant Brute is accompanied by a hamstring blade which has been fused into its arm, making this enemy a much fiercer fight.
The best thing about the above enemies is that you can see them, meaning you can avoid them at all costs, however, one of the more horrifying enemies in this game is Kaernk. The invisible water beast that stalks the player during the water level early in the game is sure to terrify any player. The tension is incredible as the splashing is the only way to tell where the monster is lurking, should it catch you, the screen flashes red, the player struggles and slowly fades to black. The jump scare associated with this enemy is what truly makes it a heart stopping stealth attacker.
Kaernk is not the only creature that is invisible, the protector of the house, the Shadow, also lurks in the….well clue is in the name. The Shadow appears when the player enters an area and seems to be in control of the house, with the red oozing flesh protruding from the walls it injures the player and makes the atmosphere much more intense. The truly horrifying aspect of the Shadow is the fact that this enemy, is inescapable, as much as you try, as much as you fight back against this unknown entity guarding the house, nothing can stop its force.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent does a lot to conjure up fear within the game, from the creepy atmosphere, dramatic contrast in lighting, falling and moving objects and horrifying monsters. The game inhabits several vicious and spine chilling monsters, that tend to appear out of the darkness to harass and hunt you down, yet what adds to their true terror is the players inability to fight them off, the only option is to hide and wallow in hiding over how utterly powerless you truly are.
The game starts off seemingly quiet,with the player being alone for most of the first part of the game (or are you…) The player aimlessly wanders around trying to get any significant information that can explain why they are there, however some creepy goings-on begin to happen. From chairs falling over to the wind blowing doors open with an almighty bang, the player is led deep down a rabbit hole travelling hand in hand with a sense of insecurity and fear and that’s before any monsters even arrive on the scene.
Another element of fear is the use of lighting in the game, the darkness triggers the madness and insanity that will slowly engulf the player the longer they spend in the dark. The use of oil within a lantern also enables and controls the elements of insanity for the players mindset. The lantern is used to control the players vision and control how mad the player is becoming, therefore oil is in limited supplies and requires you to think carefully about the appropriate time to use it, or risk going insane.
The Dark Descent is unique in many ways from its simple design of fear to its use of insanity to create a total atmosphere of unease for the players. The insanity factor focuses on the darkness levels and how it affects the mental capacity of the player to remain calm and sane within the increasingly intense environments. The longer the player spends in the dark and the shadows, as well as looking at the monsters, the more insane they become as cannot conceive the horrors they are witnessing.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is truly a fantastic horror game in the sense of thrills, horror, terror and puzzles. The game intertwines all of these to a supreme degree and the incorporation of its insanity factor makes the player feel even more on edge, as if that were possible when playing this game. The puzzle side of this game gives it a lighter tone as you actually have to work in order to escape the horrors this castle holds, it requires the player to think rationally and strategically resulting in a wonderful companion to the moderation of your players insanity level. The game itself set a new standard for the genre and is a must for any fan of horror.