Amnesia: Rebirth DEALS
Frictional Games take the path with Amnesia: Rebirth is very similar to grief elaboration. Moving people’s minds and consciences do not always pass from improbable monstrosities or cathartic shootings, not if you want to leave a certain type of feeling on you or send an impalpable but wearying message.
Doubt, uncertainty, repentance can burn much deeper than a red-hot ember and leave signs perhaps not visible to the naked eye but infinitely worse for the psyche of those who are forced to suffer them. In this way, the first two phases of mourning, denial, and anger, alternate continuously in the dark descent of Tasi, the protagonist of the title, but also in the minds of the players themselves, especially if they have experienced the terror of the original trilogy.
It is good to clarify that it is not essential to have your hands on the developers’ previous works to start or enjoy Amnesia: Rebirth to the fullest. However, some phases can offer different moments of dismay and reflection by a shared, playful universe.
Suppose you are among those who consider the horror genre inevitably linked to jump scare, gory scenes, and horrors in plain sight. In that case, you must position Amnesia: Rebirth among the walking simulators with dramatic connotations. This is a not insignificant note, given that within a part of the videogame community, there seems to be a heated hostility towards games that flaunt an alleged horror label, only to turn out to be not very scary. It is a crucial point to highlight, tied hand in glove with the playful soul and the narration of Amnesia: Rebirth.
Hiding in the dark while the protagonist’s memories emerge represents the beating heart of the experience, a harbinger of anguish far more insidious and suffocating than an aberration to be shot. However, returning to the basics of the gameplay, we are not able to fight. After a narrative opening, perhaps a little overused, we find ourselves among the wreckage of a plane in the middle of the desert. In the initial moments of the game, the first videogame and conceptual overturning take place. Burned by the hot sun, we have to look for a place to shelter; escape from the light to seek the dark.
Continuing with the adventure, the game’s key elements are rearranged, dragging us towards unhealthy and oppressive darkness, but never following a precise routine, leaving us at the mercy of rather varied settings, both for game dynamics and for the extension. Cramped underground guts leave room for unusually large survival horror scenarios, especially considering some timid hints of backtracking.
Common sense instinctively keeps us away from the darkness, also because when the protagonist lingers too long in the embrace of the dark, her fear becomes palpable: the breath becomes restless, irregular, and the vision becomes blurred. Having reached the limit, a swift succession of images definitively cracks Tasi’s sanity, leaving her petrified and burning her skin.
Managing this growing tension in the best possible way is a fundamental element in Amnesia: Rebirth. Those who have a minimum of familiarity with the gameplay of the very first chapter of the saga, The Dark Descent, will find roughly the same mechanics. Tasi is unable to fight, merely hiding or running away. The few objects she has available to survive are a handful of matches and an oil lantern, capable of momentarily dispelling the darkness that devours her.
Other elements can be picked up and moved, following simple but functional laws of physics. The narrative borrows enormous themes such as the elaboration of mourning and motherhood, conveying the most important passages through the protagonist’s pencil drawings. Reviewing events through memory drawing is a cryptic and potentially faded transference, as it passes through two gigantic emotional filters.
Graphics and Audio
Graphically we are faced with an essentially functional work, not very showy in technical terms, but still capable of immersing itself properly in its murky and alienating atmospheres. If the environments’ construction is broadly average, the precise use of lights and filters that embrace entire scenarios can transmit genuine anguish movements. Whipped by the relentless wind of the Algerian desert or swallowed by smoky caves with greenish scents, the mere technique always gives way to the excellent atmosphere.
The sound, effective in its crackling silences and perfect in the protagonist’s heartfelt dubbing, locks the player in its grip, second only to SOMA for scenic power and involvement. Barely mentioned melodies, valuable sounds, and effects swallowed by the dark and a continuous search for a state of “hearing discomfort” make the audio sector of Amnesia: Rebirth one of its most successful elements.
The latest work by Frictional Games highlights the already consolidated narrative skills of the Swedish team. While not distorting the genre, Amnesia: Rebirth is one of the strongest and most enthralling survival horrors of recent years, yet another proof of how much loneliness, repentance, and sadness are the most frightening horrors that man can face.
Amnesia: Rebirth, while remaining formally on the same levels as SOMA, traces a tangible and dazzling path on the expressive maturity reached by Frictional Games. Despite the game mechanisms all in all tried and true and some inevitable narrative cliché, all the dynamics that make up the adventure have a perfect cohesion, returning a terrifying experience. Suppose the worm insinuated by a multimedia product manages to escape from its content and gets to sneak up on the user-container well beyond the credits.
Then it will have carried out the most challenging task: to push people to reflect through a silent path of transference and identification. It was able to live outside the fictional nightmare that created it truly.
Amnesia: Rebirth is a profound, multifaceted, and frightening experience. A game capable of saying something even beyond its fruition.
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