Developer & Publisher: Frictional Games
Released: June 6, 2023
Requirements: OS: Windows 7/8/10, 64 bit
Processor: Minimum, Intel Core i3/AMD FX 2.4 Ghtz; Recommended,
Intel Core i5/AMD Ryzen 5
Memory: Minimum 4 GB RAM; Recommended, 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum, Open GL 4.0, Nvidia GTX 460/AMD Radeon HD 5760/Intel
Recommended, Open GL 4.3, Nvidia GTX 970/AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT/Intel
Storage: 35 GB available space
Amnesia: The Bunker
I had a lot of enjoyable horror survivalness with this.
You play Henri Clement, a soldier in a WW1 trench that leads to the titular bunker. His early explorations lead him to a dying soldier, who tells a story of a beast and begs to be shot. Whatever Henri is thinking, the beast intervenes, dismantling the soldier and giving birth to Henri’s worst nightmare from that point on.
If you have played other Amnesia games, you will not be surprised to hear that this is a game where creeping and hiding and both avoiding and embracing the dark are things you need to do. I quickly found out that identifying places to scurry and hide could save my life, that the light was my friend but the dark could be friendly as well, that being quiet mattered until it didn’t, and that ‘don’t panic’ is a handy if at times unrealistic way to move forward.
I did panic though, and I did a lot of running and hiding. But I learnt to take a breath, to plan, to be aware of my surroundings and to identify a way out, and to look for another (perhaps quieter) way to achieve my objective. And to lock doors behind me whenever that was possible.
Plus I learnt about the beast, about the signs it was close or approaching, what would draw its attention, and what would help me to avoid it.
I confess I died more than a few times doing that, but it seemed necessary.
I also confess I played on the Easy setting (as opposed to Normal or Hard, and I still used a walkthrough more than once), so my impressions and descriptions are based on that experience. Factor that in as you see fit.
Visually this bunker is rich and dark and detailed, providing an excellent canvass for Henri’s efforts, while the soundscape adds the finishing touches. Lean into what you can hear and from where it is coming, and behave accordingly. The sense of foreboding never went away, that I was only a misstep away from death was ever present, and yet I was determined to venture out from my last safe space and press on. It’s a creepy, creeping experience.
You will find lots of stuff, notes as well as items. The notes provide key information as to what happened and clues about what you might need to do next, the items are many and varied - weapons, ammunition, things to be crafted, dog tags (which are more than they might seem), and all sorts of bits and pieces. Plus gasoline. Which you should take whenever you find it, the generator being your best friend when it comes to creating light.
Or maybe your second best. I came to love my little handheld gizmo, charged by (sparingly) pulling on its string. Keeping the lights on is an ongoing resource management issue but it does tend to help keep the beast, if not completely at bay, at least at some degree of distance, although how it behaves does seem to be a product of a number of things.
Some things you can’t take but you can pick up and examine (be sure to look at the back of things) and other things you can push and pull around; climb on them, build a barricade, even blow some of them up. And there are rats. One or two rats are nuisance value, but lots can be another issue you will need to deal with.
Almost everything comes with a noisy ‘cost,’ and while I got better as I went in knowing what I could get away with, both individually and cumulatively, I tended to err on the side of doing things as quietly as possible. You might for instance be able to smash or shoot your way into a locked room, but finding the key or the code or another way in might be preferable. It will though mean you have to explore further and look harder, which has its own potential cost, and you certainly won’t be able to tiptoe your way soundlessly through the whole game. Deciding what to do when and where was another aspect of the gameplay (informed sometimes by an untimely death).
Unlike many adventure games you don’t get a bottomless pit for your inventory items, and you can only carry a limited amount, which is increased by finding kit bags. You can though store things in a chest or just drop them on the floor; to the best of my knowledge apart from some meat (which the rats got into) things will stay where you leave them.
You do have a map affixed to the wall in your starting area, but you need to find the extra bits to make it complete. You also have a save point in that same area (you save by interacting with it), and it’s (apparently) the only one which exists unless you play on Easy. I found two more in my playthrough and there might be more, but any more than the single one right at the start is a plus in my mind. I expect I will play it on Normal next time, but I was glad I had extra save locations on my first outing.
The beast is awesome, both in how it behaves and how it looks. Near as I could tell it lives in the ‘walls,’ emerging when it has some reason to do so (probably something you did). Thankfully shooting it drives it away (save your ammo), but it will be back. Other things just make it angry, although a particular item is like music; you can sort that out yourself.
You will have to do battle with it at the end, and I did need a walkthrough at that point. There are two endings, each depending on how you fare.
The game plays with the mouse and keyboard (mainly the latter) and you can map keys to suit. The opening sequences act as a tutorial, a welcome one giving the somewhat fiddly interface involved; I doubt I would have worked out how to do some stuff without it. I then mapped the keys on the basis of that introduction, and having done so and explored a bit more, settled in quite nicely. Hotspots generate appropriate icons, some actions are mimicked with the mouse, and your codes, notes etc can be found in tabs in your inventory.
Some googling indicates that on subsequent plays many items won’t be where I found them, the beast will be more interested in me sooner, codes will be different and possibly somewhere else and other things will be booby-trapped (I didn’t mention them; be aware of tripwires and exploding doors). All of which should guarantee as good a time the next time out.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB