Mento's May Madness: #1 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Hey gang, since this is a quiet month for releases I've decided it's high time to do some spring cleaning for this interminable Steam backlog I seem to have cultivated in the past few years. Subsequently, I'm playing a hell of a lot of games from my Steam catalogue and giving them a once-over throughout the month of May. Since I'm not made of time like some sort of scarf-donning alien, I'll only be playing each game for a few hours and writing up my initial impressions before moving onto the next. That won't necessarily mean I'll be finished with the game though.

I'll be updating the table below with any new introspectives, ponderings and ratiocinations about the games I'm playing, updating approximately once per day. Goal is for 25 games in 31 days. Let's see how this goes. And because I am not entirely without mercy, this is the only blog I'm uploading to the forums.

01/05/12 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent12/05/12 - Nimbus24/05/12 - Chime
02/05/12 - Blocks That Matter13/05/12 - Puzzle Bots25/05/12 - Diamond Dan
03/05/12 - Capsized14/05/12 - Rhythm Zone27/05/12 - Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time
04/05/12 - Delve Deeper15/05/12 - Starscape28/05/12 - The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom
05/05/12 - Eufloria17/05/12 - Tobe's Vertical Adventure30/05/12 - Gemini Rue
06/05/12 - Frozen Synapse18/05/12 - Uplink: Hacker Elite
07/05/12 - Greed: Black Border19/05/12 - Zen Bound 2
08/05/12 - Hammerfight20/05/12 - Max Payne 2
10/05/12 - Lume21/05/12 - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
11/05/12 - Machinarium23/05/12 - Avadon: The Black Fortress

01/05/12 - Game #1

The game: Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent

The source: Gift from Giant Bomb user TeflonBilly.

The pre-amble: Amnesia is the (currently) newest survival horror game from Swedish development studio Frictional Games. It uses a lot of the features of their prior Penumbra series, specifically a sanity meter that drops during tense situations and puzzles that are often solved by holding and dragging items and fixtures in the environment to manipulate them. It's also purportedly scary as all heck. I figured I shouldn't leave my pal Teffers hanging any longer, so this and most of the other games in this feature will be stuff I've received in the past from giveaways and whatnot.

The playthrough: What was immediately apparent is how much I overestimated my PC's ability to handle this game, so after a slightly more humbling reconfiguration I started my journey into.. some creepy mansion somewhere. The game is quick to give you hints into what you should be doing next, but only when there's a feature of the gameplay you might not yet be cognizant of, such as turning a wheel or breaking a wall with a heavy object. Otherwise, it's happy to just let you wander around with the merest of visual hints and a "well, I guess I should be doing this before I go crazy" bullet point list of goals. Though light is plentiful initially, your amnesiac dapper fellow protagonist will freak out whenever the visibility gets low and creates the first major obstacle to exploration: Light-emitting resources are limited, so it's best to quickly get in and out of dark places before the surroundings get too "wibbly".

In the self-allotted time I managed to progress to the refinery under the mansion, past a meaty barrier that needed some acid I had to craft with chemicals I last saw in Dungeons of Dredmor. I spotted a few of what the game called "Gatherers", which look like lamprey humanoid things, but I didn't spend too much time focusing my attention on them lest the dude I was controlling fell afoul of a pantaloons accident. They don't seem like particularly fun people to wander into.

Overall it was kind of fun, though I don't doubt that exploration will get less and less fun as I get restricted by fewer tinderboxes to light torches and more jowly monsters to hide from. The slowly emerging story is told well with its peripheral "Dear Diary, this shit be messed up, yo" notes and disorientating flashbacks, and I'd like to get back to it at some point: I owe at least that much to its meticulously-crafted burgeoning atmosphere of dread that I neglectfully interrupted by moving onto game #2 (and to its donor, for that matter).

The verdict: Will revisit.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Edited by Mento

Hey gang, since this is a quiet month for releases I've decided it's high time to do some spring cleaning for this interminable Steam backlog I seem to have cultivated in the past few years. Subsequently, I'm playing a hell of a lot of games from my Steam catalogue and giving them a once-over throughout the month of May. Since I'm not made of time like some sort of scarf-donning alien, I'll only be playing each game for a few hours and writing up my initial impressions before moving onto the next. That won't necessarily mean I'll be finished with the game though.

I'll be updating the table below with any new introspectives, ponderings and ratiocinations about the games I'm playing, updating approximately once per day. Goal is for 25 games in 31 days. Let's see how this goes. And because I am not entirely without mercy, this is the only blog I'm uploading to the forums.

01/05/12 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent12/05/12 - Nimbus24/05/12 - Chime
02/05/12 - Blocks That Matter13/05/12 - Puzzle Bots25/05/12 - Diamond Dan
03/05/12 - Capsized14/05/12 - Rhythm Zone27/05/12 - Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time
04/05/12 - Delve Deeper15/05/12 - Starscape28/05/12 - The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom
05/05/12 - Eufloria17/05/12 - Tobe's Vertical Adventure30/05/12 - Gemini Rue
06/05/12 - Frozen Synapse18/05/12 - Uplink: Hacker Elite
07/05/12 - Greed: Black Border19/05/12 - Zen Bound 2
08/05/12 - Hammerfight20/05/12 - Max Payne 2
10/05/12 - Lume21/05/12 - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
11/05/12 - Machinarium23/05/12 - Avadon: The Black Fortress

01/05/12 - Game #1

The game: Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent

The source: Gift from Giant Bomb user TeflonBilly.

The pre-amble: Amnesia is the (currently) newest survival horror game from Swedish development studio Frictional Games. It uses a lot of the features of their prior Penumbra series, specifically a sanity meter that drops during tense situations and puzzles that are often solved by holding and dragging items and fixtures in the environment to manipulate them. It's also purportedly scary as all heck. I figured I shouldn't leave my pal Teffers hanging any longer, so this and most of the other games in this feature will be stuff I've received in the past from giveaways and whatnot.

The playthrough: What was immediately apparent is how much I overestimated my PC's ability to handle this game, so after a slightly more humbling reconfiguration I started my journey into.. some creepy mansion somewhere. The game is quick to give you hints into what you should be doing next, but only when there's a feature of the gameplay you might not yet be cognizant of, such as turning a wheel or breaking a wall with a heavy object. Otherwise, it's happy to just let you wander around with the merest of visual hints and a "well, I guess I should be doing this before I go crazy" bullet point list of goals. Though light is plentiful initially, your amnesiac dapper fellow protagonist will freak out whenever the visibility gets low and creates the first major obstacle to exploration: Light-emitting resources are limited, so it's best to quickly get in and out of dark places before the surroundings get too "wibbly".

In the self-allotted time I managed to progress to the refinery under the mansion, past a meaty barrier that needed some acid I had to craft with chemicals I last saw in Dungeons of Dredmor. I spotted a few of what the game called "Gatherers", which look like lamprey humanoid things, but I didn't spend too much time focusing my attention on them lest the dude I was controlling fell afoul of a pantaloons accident. They don't seem like particularly fun people to wander into.

Overall it was kind of fun, though I don't doubt that exploration will get less and less fun as I get restricted by fewer tinderboxes to light torches and more jowly monsters to hide from. The slowly emerging story is told well with its peripheral "Dear Diary, this shit be messed up, yo" notes and disorientating flashbacks, and I'd like to get back to it at some point: I owe at least that much to its meticulously-crafted burgeoning atmosphere of dread that I neglectfully interrupted by moving onto game #2 (and to its donor, for that matter).

The verdict: Will revisit.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

@Mento said:

Since I'm not made of time like some sort of scarf-donning alien

Is that a reference to me?

Posted by Mento

@Video_Game_King: Depends, are you Doctor Who? Because I've always had my suspicions.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

I can be Dr. Who, if I want. However, I forgot that he was an alien. I thought he was just a magical British person.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Pretty awesome feature, Mento. I've been trying to knock down my seemingly endless Steam library too. Looking forward to reading more. Also? Now I really want a new season of Dr. Who.

Moderator
Posted by Commisar123

@Mento: Stop trying to blame others! We know you're the real alien!

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I played enough Amnesia to know that I can't play Amnesia. Even with the lights on. My tolerance for this kind of stuff is minimal, which is to say that the game does its job very, very well.

Online
Posted by Doctorchimp

No you will continue to play Amnesia.

As someone who doesn't get scared by any sort of movie and can get through "scary" games rather easily, Amnesia was fucking magical.

Posted by Mento

Bumping this after a week of updates. It's been fun, mostly, and there's at least a couple games here I can't wait to go back to. (Don't worry , Amnesia is one of them.)

I also haven't gone crazy yet, which is always a good sign. Onto week 2!

Moderator
Posted by Mento

Is it bad form to double post while bumping your own thread? There's probably several forum rules I'm breaking here. Oh well, I'll get chewed out by MB later.

Hey, I made it through another week of exhaustively examining engrossing/execrable economically-priced electronic entertainment. Alliterative assholery aside (no, stop it) I want to thank anyone who's taken time to read and comment on any of these mini-assessments. I also want to thank those generous users who have contributed to my Steam library in the past with their donations and gifts, who are in some part complicit in this ongoing trainwreck. How do you sleep at night?

Week 3! Hope you'll stick with it. Keep a special eye out for cracks in my sanity; they'll be hidden throughout the upcoming blogs like so many easter eggs.

Moderator