Around this time of year many of us go looking for horror movies and games to get us in the mood for the spooky season. One of the better choices for a game to play that you can make is the Amnesia: Collection from Frictional Games. If you haven’t heard of it before it’s a bundle of three games including Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the Justine DLC for Dark Descent, and A Machine for Pigs. This collection was previously released on other current generation platforms but now you can take it with you with the new Nintendo Switch version. Is this version worth your time?
The original Dark Descent game that released in 2010 actually set a standard of sorts that many other horror games borrowed elements from since then. It’s one of the games that started the Let’s Play video craze which helped contribute to the success and popularity of the original game. These are all first-person horror games that have great atmosphere that stress you out just while playing and they very much still hold up even now. That’s not to say that you can’t tell that they are old games because you absolutely can but it’s a testament to just how well made these were.
All three games basically follow the same story premise which is you generally wake up in a location, such as a castle or cell, with no idea of who you are or why you’re there. By exploring the environments and making your way through the game you’ll find audio logs and notes that help explain who you are and what is going on. These environments are full of disgusting, horrifying creatures that you want to avoid at all costs. These games don’t feature combat systems so in order to survive you’ll be doing a lot of running and hiding in order to get through. You can see where games like Outlast drew their inspiration from. The thing is though the game doesn’t allow you to just run and hide all you want. In the Dark Descent, a sanity system is in place that will cause the screen to distort the longer you are in the dark or the more you look at the monster that may be chasing you. To keep this in check you’ll want to always be on the lookout for things to create sources of light, such as candles or oil for your lantern, to prevent falling deeper into this nightmare. Light can also be used in solving puzzles in the game which helps to break up the running and hiding gameplay elements. The puzzles aren’t pushovers and you’ll really have to think and use things like light in interesting ways in order to solve them.
Another thing these games focus on is interacting with the environment. You can grab things in the environment such as doors which you can push or pull closed. This allows you to slowly open a door to see if a creature is on the other side waiting for you for instance. The controls for it feel a little clunky which is unfortunate but it’s a cool system that helps add to the stress especially if you are running and have to quickly interact with a door to get through.
When you’re done with The Dark Descent you can jump into the Justine expansion next. This entry still has you hiding from creatures but also introduces new things like putting people’s lives in your hands. Basically, in order to proceed past a point you’ll be told to either sacrifice lives to be granted permission to continue or to find out another solution should you choose to let them live. Another new feature that adds to your stress is the fact that should you die you’ll have to start the entire thing over from the start. Some people don’t like permadeath elements but the expansion isn’t that long so it doesn’t feel too depressing should you meet your demise. The final game in the package is A Machine for Pigs that features a new story and bigger environments compared to The Dark Descent. This game was actually made by The Chinese Room who you may know from games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. It removes some of the things from the original game though such as the sanity system and the item management systems. Because of this I found it to be a bit of a lesser experience compared to The Dark Descent but due to its great story it’s still a must play in my opinion.
In terms of performance on the Switch the entire collection runs pretty well even if the games do show their age. A Machine for Pigs naturally looks the best out of all three of the games due to the fact that it’s the most recent of the three although since all three games are pretty dark it helps to hide some of the ugliness. Framerate was solid for the most part in all three games both while playing docked and in handheld mode but there were a few times I noticed it dipping. One of the downsides of playing it in handheld mode though is the size of the text on things which makes it hard to read. The voice acting is average at best but the sound effects and music are really well done and add so much to the experience. There were so many times I would hear something and instantly start panicking thinking that one of the creatures was soon going to be upon me.
I never played these games until they released on consoles a couple years ago but Amnesia: Collection became one of my favorite horror games once I finally did get that chance to play it. The graphics do show their age but I still feel like it’s a must play collection of horror games for anyone who hasn’t experienced it. The Switch port absolutely holds up and because you can now play it wherever you are there’s never been a better time to jump into the madness.
*Amnesia: Collection is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.