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Review

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Review

  • Game release: September 10, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is extremely disturbing, more than a little disgusting, and impossible to stop playing.

by

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is cerebral, legitimately frightening, and very, very disturbing. This semi-sequel to 2011's surprise hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent from developer The Chinese Room takes horror-movie tropes and stirs them into a meditation on the meaning of life, love, war, religion, madness, and the impact of industrialism on 19th-century England. Put all of this into an incredibly creepy adventure that takes place almost entirely in the pitch dark, toss in some pig-men, and you have one supremely unnerving adventure that is impossible to put down.

This eerie tale takes place at the end of 1899 in London. You play as Oswald Mandus, a rich industrialist/adventurer who awakens at the beginning of the game in his mansion with no memory of his recent past. He seems to have lost his two sons, his wife may be dead, something bad happened recently during an expedition to Mexico, and there is something very strange going down with regard to pigs in and around his home and adjacent factory. You move through the ominous mansion in first person, piecing together your troubled past courtesy of notes, the odd entry in your journal, sound recordings that play on Victrola-like devices, and even telephone conversations with a mysterious man who may have your children held captive in the bowels of the factory.

The tale is rolled out perfectly. Instead of bluntly beating you over the head with blood and guts, the game uses the much more satisfying tactic of slowly building a sense that something is deeply wrong with every step you take in the mansion and the steampunk-styled factory complex beneath it. Mandus goes from being a mildly unhinged man to a possible mad scientist playing God to a genocidal madman.

Serious themes are touched on, as well, mostly courtesy of the scripting in the notes that power much of the plot development. Much of this is surreal and sick, hinting at torture and mass murder on an industrial scale. That said, the script takes the high road, with the authors choosing literary skill and creepy subtlety over pulp violence every time. Much of the plot revolves around the meaning of love and life at a time when the industrial age is changing humanity dramatically, possibly turning us all into pigs in a machine. All of the horrors that the 20th century will soon offer also play a role in motivating Mandus, lending humanity to a protagonist who could easily have become a moustache-twirling villain.

Most of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is moody and unsettling, complete with creepy backdrops like this moonlight view.

Even the ending is handled quite well. The developers resisted the urge to put a neat bow on everything, so all of the mysteries are not totally resolved, and the story stays surreal to the end. You can come up with good answers to all of the questions by going back over the discovered notes and journal entries, but the game dodges big reveal moments and awkward exposition. Aspects of the conclusion are dragged out somewhat, though. The final hour is padded with repetition in both words and deeds, with you climbing up and down a few too many ladders.

The gameplay itself isn't quite as fraught with tension as the plot that you follow, although it comes close. There are no logic puzzles, no inventories full of junk to accumulate, no combat, or anything else that would get between you and the story. You mostly follow a linear path through the game's many levels, figuring out how to open locked doors, spin various dials and wheels, and so forth. There isn't a single problem to be solved that requires more than a little bit of exploration and observation. All that gets in your way are the so-so visuals, which lack contrast in spots and are too reliant on a couple of basic themes. The steampunk industrial setting, for example, too often turns into a maze of corroded corridors, steam, and sheet metal.

And then there are the pig-men. They're also moody and unsettling, but with the added plus of being able to tear you to pieces.

Real tests are provided in levels that feature the pig-man monsters, though. There is no way to fight them, and they can take you down with just a few swipes of their hooves. Dodging them is possible, although you generally need to turn off your lantern to do so, and this of course plunges you into nearly complete darkness. Sound is superb all around, from the chugging of the Victorian-era machinery to the creepy musical score. The music utilizes thunderous organs and vaudevillian jigs, but it is never better than when you are fumbling around in the dark, listening to the grunts and squeals of the pig-man monsters all around you. It sets up some truly terrifying moments. It's all too easy to think that you've gotten away from a pig-man, only to switch on the lantern and illuminate porky standing right in front of you.

You probably shouldn't play the game if you've had a bad day. This is a captivating adventure, but it's also a very dark and disturbing one that touches on depressing real-world themes and doles out psychological horror along with monsters and gore. Still, this gives the game added depth and a literary weight that elevates it well above much of the horror genre in general, especially in a game that arrives without much pretension and with a plot device about murderous pig-men.

The Good
Brilliantly written script
Deeply unnerving and surreal setting
Impressive voice acting
Disturbing music and unsettling sound effects
The Bad
Drags over the last hour or so with repetition and story padding
8
Great
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Discussion

336 comments
Renoo27
Renoo27

Does difference of opinion mean nothing to you people? 

biokrysty
biokrysty

could  have made it better but it's a fine game

Talavaj
Talavaj

A disappointment really, it was so incredibly short and not even remotely terrifying. The enemies were funny, if anything and suffered from awful animation that didn't make the matters any better.

The plot was ok but everything else was little more than mediocre. The fact this scored more than the Outlast did is a prime of example why professional reviews should just be ignored.

reychan203
reychan203

Good Game,

I like it...but  Outlast is more good than this....of course!!!   If people saying different means those people don't know nothing about games.... better you play with Game boy games.


shreddyz
shreddyz

I'd like to know why the decision to simplify scoring was taken. Does anyone know? I liked looking at a 8.7/10 and reading precisely why a game got that score. Not like the 'wellllllll it's better than a  7 I THINK. just seems pretty bush league and I'm sure the reviewers had no say in the matter but they must asked the question....why?

oOhedzOo
oOhedzOo

I Loved Penumbra, and Amnesia Dark Decent, this one, however, is a FAIL. A COMPLETE UTTER FAIL!

Crazed8
Crazed8

To me the big problem with the game was the pig men. When the game started it was scary and really good. Even the first couple of glimpses of the pig men managed to freak me out, but once the pigs were introduced,you'll soon discover the pigs don't do a lot of damage and your health regenerates which takes a lot of the teeth out of the game and some of the atmosphere. I say 8.0 is about right for the game. It has a good story, great immersion and has some pretty good scares up to the end. The big problem though is the pig men.

Eastwrath
Eastwrath

Real score for this game is 4... 

Not scary , too short, too linear, and without monsters(those piggies r dumb) uncreative game.

D1N02982
D1N02982

Outlast gets a 7.0 and this gets an 8.0???????????

Doktoraegra
Doktoraegra

Wow, I was really disappointed with this game. I started playing it this afternoon and I just finished it. It was way too easy and short. I think I met maybe 3 enemies during the entire game. I almost want to try getting my money back... Gonna go back playing Penumbra instead.


The physics also seems pretty off. You can throw a chair really far but a teddy bear just falls flat to the ground. I also missed picking random stuff up.

Nothing really scary about the game either, just really loud sounds now and again.

Kingplayer1080
Kingplayer1080

8 out of 10 is a fair score if your rating this as a book but as a game I would rate this a 5. Enemies are few and far between and pose no real threat, no depth in the objectives or puzzles, no climax to all the tension each area builds up (only a bunch of jump scares), no replacement for the inventory, light, and insanity management that the first one did so well.


The only redeeming factors for this game is the great story (which is the only thing that had any kind of horror) and soundtrack but that's about it.

LeCage
LeCage

I'm an hour into the game, and so far it's been nothing but running around a very bland house pulling switches. You can't interact with anything, bar the odd obvious object required to progress. I hope it gets a LOT better soon! 

crepito
crepito

As an horror genre fan, honestly, i was expecting something better. I just finished the game with a total of 4 hours of gameplay. The story was predictable and the scare factor was none through the whole game. If you want to be scared, Outlast delivers much more than this title. I rate this game with a 6.5

hotsunny2008
hotsunny2008

I havent played this gane yet but from the user comments i surely can keep my imagination low so why bother playing such game.... nahhh

ewjiml
ewjiml

So I just finished Amnesia and these are my thoughts (possible spoilers):

1)  The game was extremely atmospheric for the first hour or so....but once you realize what the plot entails (and it is VERY obvious), everything takes a nosedive.  

2) Creatures are scary for the first two encounters.  After that, no variety whatsoever which severely hampers the horror factor.  After all, why should I be scared if I know what the next encounter will be.

3) Flickering lantern creates waaaay too much forshadowing....once again horror gone.

4) Amnesia > Outlast???  Not really (but Gamespot begs to differ).  While I will give Amnesia points for the evolution of its plot, Outlast was fresh, more visceral, and had some seriously tense moments.  Outlast was less predictable and its hud / movement was fantastic. 

Overall, I have been happy with these indie developers pushing out better horror than any AAA developers.  However, Amnesia was not as good as I thought it would be, especially after playing Outlast. 

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

From the reviews I've read, all in all this sounds like a sort of cross between Dear Esther and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which makes perfect sense considering the developer in charge on this.  The focus seems to be put far more on the story and setting here rather than the minute-to-minute gameplay.  If you're interested in this for scares alone, chances are you may be rather disappointed (especially if you played its absolutely terrifying predecessor).  However, if you're looking for great horror fiction from a first-person perspective, it arguably outdoes the original.

jonsono2
jonsono2

Almost NO challenge, short, and I didn't even pause the game once due to fear.

Radky
Radky

Anyone else finish this game in 4 hours? It was pretty much half as long as the original... Kind of disappointing.

mucking_foron
mucking_foron

Just a question- didn't London have fully lit streets in 1899?

phrasesound
phrasesound

Compared to Outlast this game totally sucks. And still we have 7.0 for Outlast, but 8.0 for this one...

LiaraT
LiaraT

Ok, can someone explain this to me? Must have a blonde play day... SPOILERS don't read if you haven't played!!!


So Mendus did experiments on people and turn them into pigmen? And what exactly happened to his kids?? Sorry for being stupid.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Pig men...strange how something that sounds silly can be so terrifying.

ANUBISZER0
ANUBISZER0

Ham hocks, pork jewels, pork chops, pig feet and or pickled pig feet, ribs, ham steak.... So much pork!

johnwck90
johnwck90

Are these games worth playing?

Aentikraist
Aentikraist

sweet!! really cool a game for non casuals!!! lots should do this!!! damn it mm i guess playing this with a nice controller would do the trick!!!

cyborg100000
cyborg100000

Can't wait to play this at 12am, headphones on, lights out. I wish OR was out now though :(

Bowser05
Bowser05

I want to get this, but I need to beat the first one first...

Kronblom71
Kronblom71

According to all the reviews this does not seem to be either as good and/or scary as The Dark Descent, though I am certainly gonna get this and judge that for myself.

Longini
Longini

@shreddyz I think Jeff Gerstmann basically explains why the scoring system changed in 2007 in this video(at about 6:30).

reychan203
reychan203

@D1N02982  Outlast should get  8.0  and this game should get  7.0

They maybe made a mistake.


Kingplayer1080
Kingplayer1080

@LeCage Believe me it won't, at least gameplay wise. If not into the story either than your going to be REALLY disappointed.

CyrenII
CyrenII

@ewjiml Its strange how all the criticism on the new Amnesia game is making me want to play the game even more. I am, however, going in with the right expectations (it being developed by The Chinese Room and all), I'm expecting a damn good plot for this game. I really hope it isn't shite :/

malad
malad

@ewjiml Totally agree. It's not scary (especially after playing Outlast), it's not fun, and was getting impatient to finish the game just to get it out of the way. Outlast got repetitive as well towards the end, but Amnesia became a chore very early on in the game. Thanks for your thoughts.

ssvegeta555
ssvegeta555

@mucking_foron Yes, gas lamps lit up London and had done so since earlier in the century. I think around this time electric lamps were replacing the gas lamps.

Tetsuro343
Tetsuro343

@LiaraT  

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

As I came to understand it, while visiting the Aztec pyramids in Mexico Mandus came across an "egg shaped stone" which gave him visions of the future and created his alter ego "the machine".  In these visions he saw his sons dying in world war I, so in order to spare them that pain he killed them.

The entire purpose of his experiments and the pig men was to save humanity from the horrors and pain of being human by killing them. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it's pretty clear whatever he found in Mexico drove him insane.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

@johnwck90 play them, a must if you are into horror games, dont forget penumbra series too that in general for me are better than amnesia (get then from  gog for 10 dollars the 3 games)

masadwi
masadwi

@cyborg100000 or? edit: nevermind i got it

johnwck90
johnwck90

@gabeb @johnwck90 I prefer users views, they usually give me an immediate sense of what I need to know.  Also, I was asking about the previous games and inviting opinions.  I often read reviews but prefer users views. 

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs More Info

First Release on Sep 10, 2013
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • Unix/Linux
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a survival horror game that is an indirect sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
7.3
Average User RatingOut of 235 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Developed by:
Frictional Games
Published by:
Frictional Games
Genres:
Action, 3D, Open-World, Adventure