Amnesia Collection (2019) - Switch Review
Amnesia Collection was re-released for the Nintendo Switch on September 12th of this year and is available through the Nintendo Eshop. While already available for the Playstation and Xbox consoles in previous years, is the Amnesia Collection worth checking out for the Switch?
This was my first experience with the original Amnesia: The Dark Descent, released almost a decade ago in 2010, along with the two other games in the collection, Justine and A Machine for Pigs. Each offers an immersive experience that is different from what survival horror games offer today. I can see why this game has a legacy of being one of the best horror games today, which is why I decided to finally play it this Halloween season.
With that said, I can see this not being for everyone. It's in the same style as Gone Home, a game which I really enjoyed. There is no combat, and while there are enemies, your only option is to run away if you are spotted. I bring up Gone Home because what I enjoyed most about the game was exploring the environments, searching drawers and reading the backstory in the form of diary/journal pages. If that sounds boring then this game probably isn't for you.
Each game in the collection offers different experiences while focusing on the mystery of your character and disturbing imagery/themes at its core. And yes, they all involve a character waking up with Amnesia, and slowly putting together the pieces of their memory as the story plays out.
The Dark Descent, developed and published by Frictional Games, excels at providing puzzles that have you scratching your head and gives you a sense of accomplishment after you realize how to solve them. While there is a hint system that keeps track of things you need to solve, the way you need to solve them is completely up to you to figure out. Similar to classic Resident Evil or Metroidvania games, you will often be backtracking to previous areas looking for a specific item to solve a puzzle in order to progress to the next area. The game also includes alternate endings, but unlike other puzzles seems unintuitive and required me to look up the solution. It didn't add much to the ending, and wouldn't diminish your experience of the game as a whole if you were to skip over it.
While the atmosphere, imagery, and backstory you discover as you start to regain your memories are frightening, the monsters, the shaking of the environments, or mysterious gases/wind can get repetitive. There is no penalty for death, and while it can be tense running away from an enemy you know is right behind you, after dying you reappear near the same location with the enemy no longer in sight.
Now shifting gears to the next game in the collection. Justine is a shorter experience, intended to just be an expansion to the original, is a Saw-like scenario that has you go through a series of trials to save yourself and a couple of fellow captives on the way. While mainly a separate experience from The Dark Descent, it is connected to the time period and characters of the first game. You can beat this game in about 5 minutes if you run through the entire thing, but completing all the optional puzzles and the fact that you have to restart from the very beginning if you are killed, made for a much longer experience on par with the other two games.
A Machine for Pigs which feels like a more refined sequel to the original, has you exploring a vast underground mechanical labyrinth underneath the city of London. The production of the game was handed to a new studio, The Chinese Room, with Frictional Games still acting as publisher. With a noticeable upgrade in the quality of graphics and sound/music, many of the tedious mechanics from the first game, such as the fuel for the lantern, sanity/health meters, and tinderboxes for lighting the various candles have been removed. At the same time many of the puzzle aspects, and being able to pick up almost everything from the first game have also been removed. While I thought the story, enemies, and locations were much better in A Machine for Pigs, it did feel too easy and much more linear than the previous two games.
Overall I enjoyed all there games, and having them all in a collection on the Switch made it very convenient. The games play well on the Switch, in both handheld and docked mode, and there weren't any issues with controls or bugs since it's been released so many times over the years. This definitely has a lower budget indie game feel, but the dark atmosphere and disturbing imagery definitely make this game feel more frightening than most triple-A horror games being released today.
I hoped you enjoyed this review. Let me know what other horror or survival/suspense games are your favorite. Thanks for visiting and check back soon for more reviews.