I used to be terrified of the dark. As a child, I couldn’t go to bed without having the landing light on, and even throughout my teenage years I’d sleep with my cherished lava lamp lit up at my bedside. It’s a dumbfounded fear. When everything is illuminated, you know exactly what is there and understand that there are no evil entities living amongst you. But once you are plunged into darkness, you cannot be sure. Although you know there was nothing to be afraid of before the light went off, a creaking door or an unknown noise makes your imagination run rife. Amnesia: Rebirth reminded me of my fear, and after half an hour, I felt like that scared child once again.
You play as a woman called Tasi Trianon whose plain crashes in the middle of an Algerian desert. With no recollection of who she is, Tasi goes looking for answers whilst trying to survive the blistering heat of the African sun. The story was great throughout. Tasi is a woman who has been through a lot, and every twist and turn had me gripped. Whilst you start Amnesia: Rebirth you are avoiding the heat by sticking to the shadows, but you soon realise how much you miss the light. After finding a cave to avoid burning to death, fragments of Tasi’s memories come flooding back, and sickness takes hold of her body. The opening hours set the tone for the entire game, and you quickly learn how vital every source of light is to you.
Throughout the cave, you find slithers of paper with information about why you’re there and who you are. You remember your husband and your child, and frantically try to piece it all together whilst fighting off the evil that is trying to infiltrate your mind. Whenever you stay in the darkness for too long, Tasi starts to panic, and the fear begins to consume you. Finding matches can help to light the way for a short time, but these moments are fleeting, and you soon learn how careful you have to be with them. If you run with them they’ll blow out quicker, so using them to light torches, candles, and bundles of tinder is a much better use of them. Doing this also helps you to know where you have been and what areas of the cave you have explored.
These matches are in short supply, but by searching through baskets and chests will help you to find more. It seems that no matter how many you find it is never enough. Playing Amnesia: Rebirth with headphones is truly terrifying. Every falling rock or scutter of an insect under your feet makes your heart beat faster, and when the sickness takes hold and you see the black tendrils fill up your screen, it becomes a race against time to feel safe once again. The thing is, you never truly feel safe, even when stood next to a source of light. On your arm is a rift amulet that illuminates every time you are near to a magic pathway, something that adds to the mysteries of the game. The amulet opens up new pathways, and helps you to escape the darkness, if only for a second.
The game opens up after the first hour or so, and Amnesia: Rebirth throws new ways at you to guarantee a fresh change of underwear. New locations such as crumbling buildings and forts surprise you with creatures that run past you, and if you aren’t careful, the sickness takes over you and you are forced to replay the area again. Light is still seldom found, and whilst you do gain an oil lantern to use, the oil runs out relatively quickly. Again, this can be found in different chests and closets, but it is never in abundance. To try and break the tension, you will run into puzzles that require looking through documents to find the answers for what you need to find.
One of the first puzzles I found wanted me to find a winch so that I could operate an elevator. Once I had found it, I needed to connect it to the elevator, except there was no base for me to stand on. There were no clues as to how to solve this, other so I had to use my own logic to dictate an answer. I found a plank of wood and carefully attached it between two ends of the broken elevator and managed to stand on it to reach the higher floor. Every inch of Amnesia: Rebirth is filled with darkness. Fear is constant, and not knowing where you are becomes a regular occurrence. Even when solving puzzles you feel like you are against the clock because something or someone is right behind you.
Amnesia: Rebirth is often tense, and most of the puzzles are well-orchestrated. The reliance on light can be frustrating at times, but that was more down to the fear of what I may encounter. Frictional Games has done a fantastic job of pairing terror with a great story and some solid gameplay. Whilst it was good to be back in Amnesia’s world, I’m glad it is over. There were times when the fear subsided, but as soon as I saw a weird creature crawl past the screen or I heard a loud bang, I was back shouting for my mummy.
Wonderful sense of fear
Fear can be suffocating
Gameplay can lapse in certain areas