Unlocking the Mysteries of Amnesia: The Bunker
In December 2022, Frictional Games announced the fourth installment in the Amnesia series, called Amnesia: The Bunker. Like previous games in the series, Bunker is a survival horror game about a character dealing with amnesia. However, Frictional is changing the series’ formula this time round. Bunker is set in a semi-open world, has an adaptable play style, and even provides the protagonist with a weapon.
The Amnesia game series
The Amnesia games in order are as follows. The series debuted with Amnesia: The Dark Descent in 2010. Its sequel, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, came out in 2013 and was followed by Amnesia: Rebirth in 2020. All games in the series are first-person survival horror games and were published by Frictional Games. Frictional Games also developed all of the games except for A Machine For Pigs, which was developed by The Chinese Room. What made the Amnesia franchise popular was the sense of dread and fear the games derived from making their protagonists defenseless in the face of lurking monsters and an ever-encroaching darkness.
The Amnesia games have been very successful at creating frightful atmospheres. The first two games, based in the 1800s, were set in the cold, lifeless Victorian era, an environment that very easily lent itself to an unsettling experience. The third game was set in mid-twentieth century Algeria, with the protagonist wandering through desert caves, ancient burial tombs, and mysterious archeological sites. The superb environmental design and sound work manage to create extremely chilling atmospheres.
Dark Descent is a tense, atmospheric, and psychological first-person survival horror game that puts players in the shoes of a man who has voluntarily lost his memory. By exploring the chateau and solving puzzles, the protagonist slowly discovers the terrible facts about his past.
The second entry in the series, A Machine For Pigs, is set in 1899 and puts players in the role of a businessman who has just awoken from a coma. The man wanders through an empty mansion, searching for his two missing children, and discovering the evil truth about himself along the way. The game features puzzle-solving, exploring creepy environments, and running from enemies who cannot be injured.
In Rebirth, you play as a pregnant woman who has just woken up alone and addled after a plane crash in Algeria and who must journey through the desert to learn what has happened. The game creates a constant atmosphere of tension and unease; you can go hours without encountering a single monster yet remain in a state of suspense.
The Amnesia series was created by indie publishing studio Frictional Games, which was founded in January 2007 by Thomas Grip and Jens Nilsson and had approximately 25 employees as of 2019.
Over a period of three years, Frictional created and self-published Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which was released to generally favorable reviews. Unexpectedly, the game sold 36,000 copies within its first month of release and 1,360,000 copies within its first two years, earning the company a total revenue of approximately US$3.6 million on a developmental budget of US$360,000.
Due to the success of Dark Descent, Frictional Games decided to continue the Amnesia series. Due to worries that an attempt at a sequel would fail, Frictional Games drafted The Chinese Room to develop the sequel, A Machine For Pigs. Frictional gave advice on the horror aspects, and The Chinese Room was responsible for the plot and gameplay development. Although praised for its intricate storyline and pacing, A Machine For Pigs lacked the pressure and suspense generated by the mechanics and defenseless state of the protagonist in Dark Descent, and was not as well received as its predecessor.
Frictional Games are also the development team behind Soma, a futuristic first-person horror game set in a ruined underwater facility.
Amnesia: The Bunker
Amnesia: The Bunker is a slight departure from earlier games. You could say that about Rebirth too, considering its sun-blanched Algerian setting, but a major difference between Bunker and previous installments is that Bunker gives the player a gun. That represents a significant change, because Amnesia basically popularized the cat-and-mouse format of modern survival horror, in which the protagonist is mostly defenseless.
Bunker looks to have everything you could expect from the series: a creepy setting, a menacing stalker, and lots of puzzling to do. Bunker follows Henri Clement, a French soldier during WWI who has been separated from his battalion and trapped inside a seemingly abandoned military bunker. However, this is an Amnesia game, so obviously Henri is not alone…a mysterious, deadly monster is trapped in the bunker with him. As Henri, you are tasked with finding your way through the bunker to escape the beast that haunts you, and there are traps that will trip you up along the way.
New tools are making an appearance in Bunker. In the announcement trailer, the protagonist sports an old-school pocket watch and a handgun. Frictional Games have also been releasing short clips on their YouTube channel, showing off some of the environments, physics-based puzzles, and more.
Gameplay clip: gun showcase (23 seconds)
New tools and firepower are not the only novelties in Bunker. The game has a semi-open world, the result being that most of its encounters will be unscripted. The game is taking a dynamic and emergent approach to horror, in contrast to the linear, heavily scripted design of previous Frictional games. Due to this unscripted approach, gameplay in Bunker will contain more surprise elements, with objects, threats, and resources changing on every playthrough.
What is Amnesia: The Bunker’s release date?
Amnesia: The Bunker is set to launch on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on May 16. You can get it on Steam or Epic Games, and it will also be available from day one on Xbox Game Pass. To play Bunker and more exciting games, make sure you check out the Xbox Game Pass and see why Game Pass is Acer’s official sponsor.
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