Thursday, September 9, 2010

Less is more

This is going to sound strange from a admitted graphics whore, but I prefer my horror games abstract. Just because modern consoles are capable of displaying appalling in the most finite, gooey detail doesn't mean that it's a good idea (I'm looking at you, Condemned 2). There is a reason that older scary games like Silent Hill and Fatal Frame worked so well in spite of their graphical limitations: force a person to fill in the holes them self and what he comes up with will be worse than anything that could be put on the screen. In this way, Amnesia is a very solid physics based adventure game. For the first two hours you never see anything threatening beyond the architecture and the occasional door opening by itself and is it still very creepy. I would not call it terrifying, but I have played most of the games out there that are supposed to be frightening and am somewhat numb to things. The first time that the isolation is broken is just a quick glance of something moving from one side of a hall to another.

It was excellent and when it was done I had to laugh at myself and my reaction. These come and go for quite a while, each more tense than the last, until I opened a door and there was one of whatever it was right in front of me. I did what any sensible person would who does not have a proton pack or double barreled shotgun: ran to another room, closed the door, and hid behind a box. The monster beat on the door several times, all the while the screen shook and blurred as the character quickly lost touch with his senses. Then he broke it down and walked into the room and all the tension and horror evaporated; the monster was nothing more than a reject from Silent Hill. Not a bad model, but nothing that will leave a mark on anyone. It would have been better if the door had been destroyed and nothing followed it, something that did happen later on, but it was already to late. Amnesia showed all the cards it had far too soon, and by doing so I could comfortably call its bluff. 

Those few moments between when the door came down and the monster came in, though....

Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit.

Oh. Never mind.

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