By DEV CROWLEY
There’s something terrifying about not being able to defend yourself, even in video games. When you think of survival horror, most of the time it’s all about stealth attacks or inventory management, but the scariest kind of survival horror is one where the only options are run or hide. What if you then had to add a baby into the mix? You’d have the cocktail for most people’s worst nightmares. That nightmare is what you are getting at when you play the recently released, AMNESIA: REBIRTH…kind of. There are mild spoilers ahead, so if you don’t wish to know any of the plot, keep that in mind.
AMNESIA: REBIRTH is developed and published by Frictional Games. It is the third installment in the AMNESIA franchise and takes it in a whole new direction while still staying connected to the world of the past games. REBIRTH takes place 98 years after the events of 2010’s The Dark Descent and follows a woman named Anastasie “Tasi” Trianon in 1937. She and her husband, Salim, are headed to an expedition in Africa when their plane crashes in the desert. When Tasi wakes up, she finds herself alone in the wreckage. As she heads out to find her husband and the rest of the stranded party, she realizes they have already set out to find help, but can’t remember what happened or where anyone is.
As she makes her way across the sand into a cave, she finds remnants of her crashed party and begins to remember snippets of what occurred. She very quickly finds the body of her husband and then remembers that she is pregnant. When she gets a radio call from the doctor that was on the plane, she tries to make her way to a nearby village but soon realizes that she is not alone in this desert. To make things even more bizarre, strangers seem to know her name and she begins to slowly change into…something else. Who is after her? What really happened in the plane crash? What is she becoming? Why does her baby seem to grow so quickly? All of those questions and more will be answered in AMNESIA: REBIRTH.
I have played Amnesia: The Dark Descent and that game was so scary that I only played for about two hours before giving up forever. REBIRTH, conversely, has sacrificed a considerable amount of scares for the sake of storytelling. There are a few jump scares here and there and some eerie environments, but you find yourself in several bright places focusing on puzzles more often than fighting to stay alive. There are a handful of moments where you have to run from something chasing you but those are few and far between. This game takes all of its eggs and sticks them right into the story basket, which may have been a bit of a mistake on the creators’ part.
Sure, the environmental graphics are very pretty, the voice acting is truly great, and the gameplay mechanics and controls aren’t that difficult to manage, but I simply wasn’t scared to play this game. The themes of the story really do connect with past installments but it feels drastically different somehow, and I easily zipped through the dark hallways, finding myself more annoyed than frightened when I ran out of matches and went insane.
There are three endings to AMNESIA: REBIRTH – the good, the bad and the secret. Honestly, none of the endings are happy endings and only the final choice really makes a difference as to which ending you’ll get. On my first playthrough, I got the good ending, but I still sat there watching the credits scroll with a look of annoyed confusion on my face. There is no such thing as a happy ending in this game, only sadness, death, or uncertainty. I believe the lack of catharsis is what is so bothersome about AMNESIA: REBIRTH. You weave your way through deserts, caves, the human mind, other worlds, and emotional pasts, but for all of the narrative shoehorned into this game, there is very little emotional release at the end. For such a heavily story-driven experience, that’s a problem.
Does AMNESIA: REBIRTH have a lot of replayability? Not really. Once you make your way through the story once, there are a few other paths that you can take, but it’s not really worth slogging through the whole thing when you can save right before the final choice and experience all three endings by loading that save. It is, however, worth a try. If you like the previous games, you will most likely enjoy this one, but if you are looking for a scary experience, you may want to stick to the OGs.
You can play AMNESIA: REBIRTH now on PS4 and PC for $29.99