Amnesia: Rebirth is one of Halloween 2020’s hottest horror games. It is also a sequel to 2010’s highly-acclaimed Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Fans of the horror genre may recognize The Dark Descent as a modern classic, leaving Amnesia: Rebirth with a whole lot to live up to. Can this series recapture the magic of the original game with its third outing, though?
A stronger narrative
In Amnesia: Rebirth, players take control of Tasi Trianon, a French drafting technician in the early 1900s. A plane crash strands the protagonist and her team of engineers in the Algerian desert. She seemingly awakes from the crash with hazy memories and many questions to answer regarding what happened.
Fans of the other two Amnesia games may sense that this is far more story-focused than the series has previously been. Those fans would be right, as the main focus of Rebirth is to tell the story of Tasi first and foremost. Naturally, that makes the game more compelling as a narrative.
The other characters are featured far too briefly to care about too much. However, Tasi is really great as a protagonist. As great as The Dark Descent was, I personally prefer this character over the largely silent hero of the first game. Although, it would be understandable if some players may find Tasi to be a bit too talkative, as she reacts to most things in the world.
A mother’s tragedy
Early in the game, it becomes quite apparent that motherhood is a huge theme for Amnesia: Rebirth. In fact, it actually plays into a mechanic that may be a minor spoiler for those wanting to experience the game as pure as possible. Said mechanic is a coping mechanism for Tasi as she braves the dark caves and dimly-lit interiors of the desert.
It’s a necessity for Tasi to control her fear and anxiety throughout her journey, as too much stress will cause her to pass out and awake somewhere else. In true Amnesia fashion, huddling near light sources can help ease these anxieties. However, Tasi also happens to be pregnant. By cradling her stomach and consoling her baby, she also calms herself.
While this is a fantastic addition to the player moveset in a narrative sense, it is ultimately just staring at the floor. Rather than seeing the brief action on screen, players are expected to look at Tasi’s shoes instead. Of course, this might be a bit boring for some players.
An intuitive world
Rebirth features all of the gameplay you would expect from an Amnesia game. Running from danger, hiding as safely as possible, and completing puzzles are what comprise the entire game. This may be disappointing to some fans, as it isn’t much different that the first game was. That isn’t to say that these mechanics do not feel much better than they used to; they do. However, that isn’t really apparent unless you’ve recently played The Dark Descent.
The puzzles still work well and require the player to really immerse themselves in order to find a solution. The way forward may require you to grab a random plank of wood to stand on, or find wheels to place on an old cannon. The open-ended nature of these puzzles might cause players to get stuck on something simple for far too long, though.
Repeatedly running into these puzzles might get really boring really quickly. Although, it may not be an issue if the player is fully immersed and terrified of the game at hand. This brings us to a pretty big issue that I had with the game.
The fear factor
Amnesia: The Dark Descent helped propel horror games into the gaming spotlight with the help of YouTuber reaction videos. The game was scary enough that it did draw some genuine moments of fear from many people. However, I just can’t shake the feeling that Rebirth has lost some of that charm.
Amnesia: Rebirth is scary. There are obviously moments that may make players uncomfortable or squeamish. Although, these moments simply didn’t seem overly effective in what they were trying to accomplish. It may have been the scripted nature of many of the scares or a sense that Tasi was never in any actual danger. Whatever the case, I couldn’t help but feel that I was a bit bored when I should have been tense and afraid.
However, it can definitely be said that the variety in monsters and locations has greatly improved this time around.
A new world
Another unexpected mechanic that could be considered a spoiler comes in the form of a mysterious amulet. By using this neat little tool, players will actually be able to hop across worlds or dimensions. Not only does this make for some truly interesting gameplay moments, but the implications that it creates within the series are huge.
Tasi will occasionally find herself in a world ruined by someone or something. While I did want to uncover what happened to the character following the plane crash, this mysterious new world was far more compelling to me. It even has me wondering if this will be a factor into the future of the series.
Amnesia: Rebirth will definitely please fans of the Amnesia series. It feels familiar while adding a few new surprises to the mix. Nothing ground-breaking will be found here, but the formula still holds strong.
The addition of a stronger narrative makes for a more compelling experience. However, it may have come at the cost of making the game less scary. This may not be the preference of everyone, but some will more than likely enjoy this approach much more.
All in all, Amnesia: Rebirth is worth checking out for any fans of horror and survival games. It is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC.