The wait is finally over, a new Amnesia game is here and it’s perfectly splendid. For the most part. Amnesia: Rebirth follows Tasi Trianon as she works to reconnect with her loved ones after a plane crash. She also works to reconnect with herself through her memories as she’s suffering from, you guessed it, amnesia.
Amnesia: Rebirth Review | In the Darkness is the Light
Set in 1937 in the hot, lonely deserts of Algeria, Amnesia: Rebirth whisks the player through dark caves, abandoned forts, tombs, and mysterious Lovecraftian realms. The variety in setting and pace works well and teases players with the promise of respite at times when there really is none. As the game mentions at the very beginning, you aren’t playing to win.
“This game should not be played to win. Instead, immerse yourself in this world and story. Fear and darkness are your enemies.”
To further your understanding of Tasi and the story at large, you’ll pick up abandoned photographs, items, and scraps of paper. Picking these items up or reaching a certain area will often trigger a memory that’s delivered to you in the form of a pencil sketch and echoes of spoken dialogue.
It’s a great way to distinguish between present and past, and it feels like you’re taking a moment with Tasi to understand what these memories mean and why they’re relevant to your current situation. We can’t talk about why Tasi decides to keep going and keep her sanity intact without spoiling certain aspects of the game’s core story.
What we can say is that Tasi ends up feeling like a believable character that you can really connect and empathize with. Who wouldn’t want to do their best to keep going in her situation? It’s ultimately the light that guides her forward better than any match or lantern ever could.
Of course, this is still an Amnesia game and you need actual light. You don’t want to linger in the dark too long, trust us. The game is relatively fair with the number of matches and oil you can find (and objects you can light) but you have to take the time to find them.
Finding things is fun and helps prevent you from rushing through areas. Amnesia: Rebirth continues the physics-based movement found in other Amnesia games and the Penumbra series. You can pick up, move, turn, and even throw items around as you scrounge for matches and oil for your lantern.
You can’t throw around heavy bags and rocks the same way you do small objects. You remain grounded in the reality of your actions. You don’t just press a button to search a chest. Instead, you have to open lids on chests and move items aside to find what you’re looking for. No matter what, you always feel like you’re actively doing something in Amnesia: Rebirth.
As engrossing as the story is and how much fun it can be to search for items, Amnesia: Rebirth is meant to be a horror game. Unfortunately, its scares feel somewhat dated and ineffective. If you played through the previous Amnesia games, or other Frictional Games titles like SOMA, the elements of horror in Amnesia: Rebirth will feel comfortably familiar and predictable.
It’s not a good sign when you feel comfortable in a horror game. Sure, there are enemies you encounter that pose a direct threat, but they feel secondary at times. Also like its predecessors, Amnesia: Rebirth forces you to solve puzzles and many of these puzzles end up being challenging just for the sake of being challenging.
Or they’re just there for the sake of being there. Previous Amnesia games had puzzles as well, but there was a different sort of tension to them. In Rebirth, the puzzles seem to pull you out of the experience a bit more than they should.
At times, it’s almost like the puzzles take priority over the scares. At least, that’s how it felt when we played it. Maybe we’re jaded from all the horror games we’ve played over the years that have puzzle elements to them.
The only puzzles that seem to add to your experience in Amnesia: Rebirth are the ones that task you with moving around areas in order to get to a particular location. For example, a locked radio room. You see the room, find out the door is locked, and have to go through the rest of the building to find a way in.
As you wander through the darkened building, you encounter an enemy or two and have to tread carefully so as to avoid detection. You have to get through the next part of the building whether you like it or not. It’s terrifying. To add things to this like having to find things like a wheel for a canon, or a winch for an elevator, makes you forget all about the enemies you share the building with. Was there an enemy in that other room? Maybe, but they’re gone now.
It’s hard to feel frightened when you can loiter around certain areas (not all) without having to worry about enemies, like the abandoned fort where you need to find a key in order to get out. You can run around the inner courtyard to your heart’s content and feel perfectly safe doing so. The lack of a direct threat makes areas like this feel boring and just… not scary.
Being able to move through creepy locations in the dark without a map is challenging enough and delivers a nice feeling of tension and excitement. The opening cave area is a great example of this. We wish that tension had been consistent throughout the entirety of the game.
As critical as we’re being, we do want to praise the game’s psychological horror. It felt reminiscent of F.E.A.R. in some ways with sights, sounds, and movement reminding you that you’re not alone even when you feel like the room is empty. It also keeps you curious about what it is that you’re dealing with.
You want to see what’s hiding in the basement so to speak, and your feet carry you down those stairs, even as your brain tells you to stop. Amnesia: Rebirth maintains that feeling throughout, of dread but also morbid curiosity.
There’s always more to discover in Amnesia: Rebirth, little notes in side rooms for you to read, and a feeling of disorientation when using things like the amulet you wear on your wrist.
You use it, you know it can be useful to open doorways and use as a compass to guide you to your next objective, but you don’t learn more about its origins until later.
The story is what makes Amnesia: Rebirth what it is, and the pieces that add to it are wonderful. Anything that detracts from it, or the scares, end up being small nuisances when compared to the bigger picture.
Amnesia: Rebirth is a fitting third entry to the Amnesia series that takes its unique lore and runs with it in a respectable way. If you’re looking for a creepy game to play in October that won’t overload you with jump scares, Amnesia: Rebirth is a worthwhile pick.
- Likeable protagonist with believable motivations and concerns that make her easy to empathize with.
- Varied environments and locations keep things feeling fresh and spicy.
- A fascinating story that builds upon previous Amnesia games and holds your interest firmly in its grasp all the way through to the end.
- The scares can be sabotaged by some of the game’s puzzles, and by the similarities Amnesia: Rebirth shares with its predecessors.