Amnesia: The Bunker by Frictional Games
It’s been over a decade since Frictional Games established themselves as vanguards of the survival horror genre with Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
A titan of a release that spawned a legion of imitators, Amnesia has remained a cornerstone that other franchise entries have struggled to match. However, with the latest entry, Amnesia: The Bunker, Frictional has opted to incorporate some new elements into their established formula.
As a soldier in the French army in World War I, you’re knocked unconscious only to awaken in a mysterious bunker. A nearby corpse has an itemized list of what you need to escape, and you simply need to find these items and bring them back to the safe room.
The problem is that something else is trapped down there with you. Something mysterious, inhuman, and very, VERY angry.
The Bunker distances itself from previous Amnesia titles almost immediately. Previously, you had to navigate via limited amounts of fuel for your lantern, trying to avoid being spotted while also staving off the madness caused by being surrounded by darkness.
Here, your flashlight has unlimited use, and the darkness doesn’t immediately drive you mad. This is important, as the generator that powers the bunker DOES have limited fuel.
However, your flashlight makes noise when wound up, almost definitely drawing the attention of the monster roaming around.
Worse still, the bunker is littered with traps that you need to see to avoid. The consequence? Taking damage causes you to bleed, which draws hungry rats that threaten to devour you.
Unlike previous Amnesia games, you do amass weapons to defend yourself with, like a revolver and Molotov cocktails. Resources are scarce, though, and your shadowy stalker can only ever be warded off, never killed.
What makes The Bunker work as well as it does is how Frictional have taken inspiration from other games and mixed it into their formula. The game’s persistent stalking threat evokes the Xenomorph of Alien: Isolation, while exploring the bunker feels like something out of an immersive sim like System Shock, door codes, crate stacking, and all.
It rewards creative thinking and caution as you try to open up areas of the bunker while constantly battling your own desire to sprint back to the safety of the central hub.
The game’s biggest mixed bag, though, is in its presentation. Series composer Mikko Tarmia‘s score is as tense as ever, but the visuals feel especially dated in comparison to the rest of its elements.
Also, this may just be a personal gripe, but maintaining the franchise’s adherence to being able to pick up objects and open drawers that ultimately contain nothing now feels much more annoying than tension-building.
The game also makes a big sell of the fact that the locations of the traps and essential items are randomized whenever a new file is started, theoretically giving it more replay value. For my money, however, I don’t anticipate replaying the game multiple times just to experience these slight changes.
While some of the new additions ultimately feel surface-level, and its visuals are in drastic need of an update, Amnesia: The Bunker is still easily Frictional’s best game in ages. It takes what’s always made the franchise great and incorporates some new gameplay elements in a way that gives the formula a much-needed shot in the arm.
A definite must-play for survival horror fans.
Amnesia: The Bunker is available via the Sony PlayStation Store, Xbox Marketplace, Epic Games Store, and Steam.
Watch the trailer for Amnesia: The Bunker below: