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Impressions of Amnesia: The Dark Descent demo

Posted by: Chad at 9/5/2010 8:51 PM
You've seen the trailers I've been posting for Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  There's now a demo available ahead of the release this week.  I decided to download it, put on the headphones and dim the lights.  Boy, what a tense experience!   

The demo appears to be the start of the game and you are given very little information to start with.  Apparently the amnesia your character has is self-inflicted.  The only information he leaves behind is a "note to self" telling you to kill an old man.  What's the significance of the old man and why does he need to die?  Why did you give yourself amnesia?  Where are you?  Are you really being chased or are you just completely losing it?

There are a few mechanics at work that you'll have to juggle.  The main one is your sanity.  You can slowly lose grip on reality the longer you're in the dark or the more "bizarre" things you see.  A lantern is at your side but consumes oil that's hard to come by.  It's a delicate balance to maintain your sanity and keeping moving.  There is even a small amount of health that can be restored by medicine found in the world.  It's all presented with a no-HUD approach to further pull you into the experience.

The last sequence in the demo is a suspenseful "don't touch the water" scenario.  I made an audible startled noise that caused my wife to ask me, "What's wrong?"  I brush it off, trying to act like a macho man.  She shouldn't know I'm scared by a video game.  Then the demo ends.  My thoughts:  
  1. This is one of the most inventive methods of story telling in video games. The Penumbra series was just a warm-up.
  2. It should totally be brought to the PS3 with Move controls.  The mouse is an awesome way to involve the player with manual interaction.  I think it would translate well to the Move's motion controls and bring it to a larger audience.  Is a PSN download option in the future?
  3. I need a couple of night lights!
Let me know if you check out the demo and/or full game.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!