Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

I have a confession to make.
I never finished the first Amnesia. It’s more accurate to
say that, according to Steam, I have played 28 minutes of Amnesia: The Dark
Descent. That includes times spent setting up options in the menu. So in
reality, I’ve gotten far enough that the first strong gust of wind howled
through a corridor before I quit. I’d like to say that’s because I didn’t like
the controls. Admittedly, I do prefer gamepads to mouse and keyboard, but the
atmospheric elements of Amnesia: TDD kinda scared me.
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs recently went on sale for 66%
off on Steam, so I decided to roll the dice. It does, for the record, support
gamepads. As far as the technical aspects of the game, Frictional teamed with The
Chinese Room, creators of Dear Esther (developer of 2008’s popular First Person
Walking Simulator Dear Esther). It’s got a fairly hefty options menu, and the
game looks gorgeous (when you can see it). 
It ran well on my GTX770, and once I’d nailed down a particularly nasty
case of screen tearing (disable in-game Vsync, both regular and adaptive, and
enable it in the Nvidia Control Panel or your ATI equivalent), the game ran at
a smooth 60 FPS with no screen tearing. The gamepad controls were responsive and
simple to learn, and even the object manipulation mechanic of the first game
translated well from mouse to thumbsticks.

This is not an overly complex game, though. It’s pedigree shows through, as
many sources have said that this game is far simpler in its gameplay mechanics
than the previous Amnesia title. Your lantern has unlimited oil. There are no
items to pick up, no laudanum to keep you sane. Your character is obviously far
more mentally stable, seeing as the monsters in this game doesn’t affect your
ability to cope with the world around you.

Where A Machine For Pigs really shines is its storytelling.
You wake up in a caged bedroom of a properly posh Victorian mansion, and bits
of story are slowly fed to you throughout your descent (a dark one!) into the
heart of a Steampunk monstrosity of brass tubes, gears, pistons, and oh-so-many
nauseating swine carcasses. Like many dark horror stories, there are aspects
that fall apart if you look at it too closely, but the game wraps up before
most people have time to question those aspects. The game runs about 4 to 4 and
a half hours, but that’s a tight 4 and a half hours, with very few wasted
moments, and a hectic (if overly obviously scripted) sequence later in the game
where the monsters really come into play. Overall, it’s dripping (quite
literally at times) with atmosphere

Is it worth the usual $20 price tag? That’s all going to
depend on whether you’re a big horror buff. Personally, I’m not. That I only
paid < $7 for the game, goes a long way to my personal valuation. I feel I
got my money’s worth, even though it didn’t quite hit that “dollar-per-hour”
magic mark. If you’re a fan of horror, I recommend this at a higher price than
I paid, especially if you like your horror to come from the storytelling as
much as the gameplay.

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