It really does feel like Frictional Games has come full circle. After redefining what it means to be part of the horror genre for the past decade, the Swedish team has reunited itself with the series where its name was made. That takes the shape of a proper sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. However, this is no longer a match made in heaven. The developer has managed to inadvertently prove the very same mechanics it standardized are becoming far too long in the tooth 10 years later. Amnesia: Rebirth is much more of a flavour long out of date.
While Brennenburg Castle isn't the place to be nowadays, the gameplay loop which put it on the map remains largely the same. Things that go bump in the dark can be considered a threat, light represents safety, and going without it for long enough brings about insanity. Protagonist Tasi remains defenceless at all times, almost every object can be picked up and thrown about, and puzzles feel like busywork. Can we change the script, please?
It's not the first time we've made the claim and it most certainly won’t be the last: this style of hide and seek gameplay has outstayed its welcome. Not even Frictional Games, the studio which essentially birthed the concept, could come up with a meaningful twist. What was revolutionary in 2010 feels like old news on the cusp of a new console generation.
Having said that, at least Amnesia: Rebirth ditches the dark and decrepit hallways for a setting traditionally basked in sunlight. Despite the sand dunes of Algeria and the tunnel systems underneath them not being the most obvious place for a haunting, they do a good job of putting you on edge. Claustrophobic passageways create extreme amounts of tension while the eerie silence of the desert will make you question even the most minute noises off in the distance. It's an impressive feat, and better yet, there's more to it. We're not going to spoil things, but rest assured that Frictional Games has managed to weave in some otherworldly locales here and there.
And then there are the scares themselves — all of which land on opposite ends of the spectrum. A handful of early chase sequences are particularly intense and successful in getting the blood pumping. Except when those same monsters catch up with you later on, there's hardly anything to be frightened of. The ghouls of Amnesia: Rebirth just aren't that scary. They all look exactly the same, meaning you'll be over their bloody facial expressions even before the word Outlast can be muttered.
Rather bizarrely, these freaks can even lend a helping hand during puzzles. Once caught, they'll drag you about before letting go at a different place in the area. We're not sure if where you're placed is supposed to be random, but every single time this happened to us, we actually ended up further ahead in a location or the enemy disappeared altogether. We can't think of many horror titles where we've actively tried to get caught by the monster hunting us down.
Although, perhaps worse yet is that Amnesia: Rebirth is one of those games that falls apart the moment you take a second to really think about it. Matches are your currency — found in limited supply to light the path ahead of you. They extinguish after a couple of seconds, forcing you to use them sparingly and tactfully. That same fuel can be transferred to the environment around you as candles, torches, and lamps provide extra opportunities to illuminate the setting.
When lit, these objects cannot be quenched unless you choose to do so. Therefore, why can't we simply pick up these pieces of apparatus and continue forth with a much better source of light? A lamp is eventually added to your inventory, but it runs on fuel. Never has it been more frustrating to run out of matches when there's a perfectly functioning lit torch placed next to you that isn't interactable. It's tough to truly measure how much of a detriment this is to the experience, but no matter what, you'll need to suspend your sense of disbelief to get anything out of the more rudimentary gameplay sequences.
There's not a whole lot of satisfaction to be found in the narrative linking those scenes together either. It is largely standalone, meaning those who didn’t play Amnesia: The Dark Descent can get started right away, but the five to six-hour playthrough never manages to top its opening. Tasi Trianon has crash-landed in the Algerian desert, knocking her out cold for a couple of days. Upon awakening, she must trace the footsteps of her husband and crewmates, which lead her to a nearby cave and the depths below.
It's an intriguing set-up that you'd think would lead to even bigger and better things. Amnesia: Rebirth certainly ups the ante with plot points and minor mechanics that wouldn't look out of place in Death Stranding, but they're not necessarily better. It's certainly a shame, compounded by the two endings we've encountered that offer very little payoff. If you go into this expecting a narrative that even comes close to reaching the heights of SOMA, you'll come away disappointed.
Redeeming factors are few and far between when the game's technical efforts are taken into account too. Texture work is poor in a lot of places and the frame rate takes a tumble all too often — particularly just after a load screen. The cherry on top has to be managing to clip through the world on multiple occasions in a late-game area, however.
For the few things Amnesia: Rebirth gets right, there is a mountain of reasons why it feels like Frictional Games is still stuck in 2010. This hide and seek style of gameplay has long outstayed its welcome and the game doesn't do enough to lessen the disappointing impact that brings. It's heartbreaking to say, but after the fantastic SOMA, maybe the Swedish developer shouldn't have bothered returning to what it thinks it knows best.
ah no, i was looking forward to this
I agree with you Liam, regarding these hide n' seek horror games. I rather have a fighting chance, even if small and clumsy. Having your character being defenceless doesn't make for a good horror mechanic for me, it's just tense because if I get caught it's game over, and that gets annoying really fast.
@bremkat34 so you going buy reviews now I see
I always really preferred Penumbra Black Plague over the Amnesia series. I wish it could get an HD re-release or something.
@Taylorzombie Isn’t that literally the point of reviews? Liam’s played this game and is giving his verdict so that we know if it’s worth picking up or not. If it was a 7, there’s some leeway. It’s a 4. Push Square rarely gives a 4.
Soma is one of the best horror games I've played, the story is really good. Maybe frictional games should make sci-fi horror for their next game.
Completely unrelated to this game but what's the deal with all the adverts on the main page now on mobile. It's practically article, advert, article, advert. Having to scroll a whole page just to get to the next couple of headlines before yet another whole page advert.
Not sure why but ever since super mario 3 on the nes ive been keen on desert stages/themes. Maybe its just too much beige lol i dunno. But once i knew thats what was in store fir this game i instantly was a bit bummed. Combined with these short comings ill have to pass. Shame as there really hasnt been any good horror games lately.
The reviews for the game are almost flooding out now and the vast majority are in the 80s or low 90s - the only bad one so far is this one.
Remothered = broken
Amnesia = a dud
Looks like Little Hope is our last hope
Woof, can't say I agree with this, but that's what opinions are for!
The hide and seek stuff is actually not that often, maybe five (very quick) sequences across 6 or so hours. Never felt like it was derivative of earlier Amnesia, personally.
Torches you light do go out of their own accord eventually, and there are three endings, not two!
I'll need to play this and see. Push Square gave Observer an equally low score and I found that to be an 8/10 enjoyable horror game so it's very much a personal opinion with these games...
This is the lowest score on the game by far... Not discounting Liam's opinion but it's just that, an opinion. I've seen enough about the game to want to give it a go regardless. Hopefully I'll enjoy it more than the reviewer.
@Melons I didn’t definitively say there’s only two endings, I said “the two endings we've encountered”.
Most people seem to love it, so it seems Liam just didn't like it...that is totally fine. This isn't his type of horror. I personally love the hide n seek games. I find them scarier.
Horror movies and games make me laugh at their absurdities (I find it really difficult to suspend disbelief) rather than feel any kind of fear; but I like exploration, and figuring out a good mystery which many games like this are strong in. So how much does this game lean on the horror aspect and how much of it is mystery?
Looks like PushSquare is alone on this one...
''Frictional Games is still stuck in 2010''
This is almost like saying that Doom Eternal is stuck in 1993.
Overall an incredibly thuggish, condescending, and lowbrow review
I’m sorry the game has an 84 on metacritic this review seems way off. Reminds me of their observer score which was similarly way off base
@nessisonett yeah that’s because the majority of their game reviews are always an 8
I remember playing that SOMA and thinking that the game would be great if it wasn't for the monsters which were just annoying and ruined the game for me but I persevered anyway and finished it and then about four minutes later they released a patch which took the monsters out and I was foaming.
The game is getting 8's and 9's across the board, except for this review. But it sounds like you automatically dislike these types of games from the outset. Which really begs the question: what business did you had reviewing this game to begin with? If you don't like hide and seek games...maybe get someone else to review it. But I guess common sense is hard to find these days.
@johncalmc Frictional Games didn't exactly remove the monsters from SOMA though, the patch just made them far less likely to attack you.
Wow, I don’t envy review outlets these days. This article is the reviewer’s opinion...that’s what a review is. If you don’t like it, find a positive one that aligns with what you think the game you haven’t played yet should receive and then run with that. Snark and insults really just make you look entitled and foolish. I certainly want to live in a world with meaningful discussion allowed by difference in opinion. Hope I disagree with this review (as I did with Observer) as Soma was one of the better sci-fi narratives I’ve recently experienced.
Yeah I'm just not trusting this review. I'm just hoping someone ACG or Skill Up makes a review on this. Otherwise I'm just going to try it for myself instead.
@Jessup22 Seriously that makes no sense to me. If you don't like this type of genre, get someone else to review it.
@Nepp67 @Jessup22 I love horror games, who are you two to say what I should and shouldn’t be reviewing?
@LiamCroft You said you didn't enjoy the hide and seek type of gameplay which Amnesia IS KNOWN FOR and that makes your review untrustworthy.
Very interesting take here. Metacritic so far has it at an average of 84 with 20 reviews, with all 20 being positive so far and the lowest score being 80.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and that’s what reviews are. I respect Liam’s opinion on this game, but it does seem like he is the outlier here with pretty much universal praise for the game so far.
@Nepp67 That doesn’t make the review untrustworthy. I won’t be entertaining these ridiculous responses past this comment.
Man, I f'ing hated SOMA. I loved the first Amnesia, but for my money A Machine for Pigs is the better game in every way and The Chinese Room is more adept at these things than Frictional is.
This is about the only bad score I've seen for this game. If you were looking forward to it I recommend you look at some of the others before you pass on it.
Damn, I had such high hopes too. SOMA was their peak for me so I was hoping to see that continue.
@bremkat34 It's just a review. This game is so far liked by many others, and will probably continue to grow as such. Don't take 1 review of someone who doesn't enjoy this genre of horror and think it's bad out of many who've enjoyed it. Plus, it isn't even out yet.
@gbanas92 Don't let 1 review change your mind. It's so far being loved by many others. This game is doing pretty well. Don't act disappointed until you've played it.
@GeneJacket Machine for pigs > The Dark Descent? You must be out of your mind.
@DrJames I wouldn't say that. Amnesia Rebirth is getting high reviews and is pretty liked on many other sites. Plus it isn't even out to public yet. Calling it a dud with all the praise it has right now without even being out is unfair.
And that goes with everyone else. I fully respect this review but don't lose faith in just 1 review that dislikes the game if you really are excited in it. This game is being praised and I'd wait and play it myself.
@Navii__ Oh I'm sure I'll play it eventually no matter what! I've played everything Frictional's ever made.
@gbanas92 Never base your opinion of a game on just one review, irrespective of whether that review is good or bad - always look at other reviews. In this case Amnesia: Rebirth is getting good or very good reviews across the board, except for this solitary Push Square review.
Kudos for stating your opinion @LiamCroft. I don't get the mentality that every review should adhere to the public consensus; meta scores are a load of bollocks. A review should give sound reasoning for its score, and if that score is against the grain, that's perfectly fine (or often even better as it provides a different opinion).
I recently played The Dark Descent and found it a complete and utter outdated dud, so by the sounds of this review I can give the new one a pass.
@ShaiHulud a nice measured statement.
Suspension of disbelief is required by every game, but it becomes more important if the game put us in the shoes of a realistic character in a realistic setting. If the gameplay involves realistic actions, then things become even more complicated.
It's ironic to think that we older gamers started playing videogames as a bunch of pixels moving in a flat world and that was great, but now that the worlds are photorealistics we often feel like something is wrong.
@LiamCroft I totally respect your review and actually agree with a large chunk of it. With that being said, I do feel like the world building is really good in the game.
@TappityTap Well naturally haha. I wouldn't want people to base their opinions solely on my reviews when they're live either! I do however respect @LiamCroft opinion and find that we think about games in a very similar way fairly often, so that review did at least dampen some of the excitement I may have had!
@Ralsto Sure thing, bruv.
Your scoring policy has a 4/10 as below average and 3/10 as poor. So why does this say poor for 4/10?
@nessisonett you going by review's from other people instead of playing it on your own or watch some gameplay
@LiamCroft The people, you know, who actually have to spend money on the game, and not gifted it like you were.
Hi Liam, thank you for this review. I was looking for a critical look at the game and I find your take very relevant, full of valid criticism in my opinion.
"When lit, these objects cannot be quenched unless you choose to do so. Therefore, why can't we simply pick up these pieces of apparatus and continue forth with a much better source of light?"
It's unbelievable that Frictional Games spent so much time on Rebirth and still came out with this nonsense (already there in original Amnesia). Thanks for pointing that out !
@HiroshiYamauchi No, there are others :
I've read many reviews calling this game mediocre, which is sad.
The Outlast games really set a new standard for survival horror: the first one, and the Whistleblower DLC, were the only games since SH2 that got to me. Frictional really needs to expand their gameplay options and character/monster types if they wanna still be held in high horror regard. SOMA had a solid story but the gameplay was just not anything special, at all.
@LiamCroft Sorry to reply so late. I've just got and finished the game, and unfortunately your review is spot on. It's sadly just a bit crap all round. The puzzles are tied to boring encounters and it really does feel like a bit of a chore to play. Soma was a tad overrated in my view but I loved Dark Descent. I wouldn't give it a 4/10 but I'm not far off with a 5/10. Just thought I'd reply as I was a tad sceptical in my comments earlier in which I was totally wrong.
So I've just finished playing this game and I have to say that I loved it! I think someone else should have reviewed this game because it feels evident that he simply just doesn't like this style of horror game so it was never going to get a good score from him. Personally I love horror games that leave you defenceless and your only hope is to either run or hide. This game did it brilliantly and for anyone who likes survival horror games then amnesia rebirth is an absolute must play game.
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