In today's episode, I cover the chilling and brilliant Amnesia the Bunker. It's been a while since I've played a game I'm terrible at, yet in love with all the same. Fans of immersive horror and non-linear survival games will love this one!
Bite Sized Reviews: The Longing
Previous Songs of Silence: Preview Impressions
Bite Sized Reviews: Amnesia The Bunker
Sometimes, games are so chilling that you’re forced to push through. While I’m a big fan of games that allow all sorts of atrocities, a few games push my comfort zone. It is strange, isn’t it? I can happily force prisoners in my Rimworld colony to fight each other for the right to eat, but I’m shitting myself as I fly my ship through Dark Bramble in a desperate attempt to break the time loop. Outer Wilds is a horror game without even trying, and I love it.
It sounds hypocritical. Sure, British bloke. You’re comfortably slaughtering folks in colony sims and hogtying people to your horse in Red Dead Redemption 2, but as soon as a giant space angler fish eats you, you shit yourself! Shame on you. The same goes for Amnesia the Bunker. I love and fear this game in equal measure. It’s been hard trying to write a ‘review’ for it. How can I reliably write a review for a game I am terrible at? For me, it’s not about the destination when playing Amnesia: The Bunker. It’s about the journey, and this is one of the most terrifying and immersive experiences I’ve had in a video game.
It was one notable MIA in my recent GOTY series. I did not get to play Amnesia: The Bunker until very recently, long after my deadline. Apologies to Fredrik for not making any of my Top 10 lists, and a huge thanks to the developer for providing a review code. I’ll have an interview with him going up in the coming weeks, but I wanted to write something on the game first.
I haven’t had much experience with the Amnesia franchise. I played a little Dark Descent back on release and remember enjoying it, and played a bit of Rebirth. Unfortunately, I bounced off that one. Amnesia Bunker takes brave souls into the horrors of World War 1. That’s trench warfare, my friends! Kicking off with a bang, players will scramble to survive as they take the role of Henri Clement — a French soldier struggling in the horrific conditions of the trenches. The opening is a blitz of tutorials, with little room for error. Once Henri reaches the deep underground bunker, things take a deadly turn. With few resources, a noisy flashlight, and facing an unstoppable supernatural threat, Henri has to work out the truth and escape.
So no pressure. The claustrophobic bunkers are a maze of darkness, and it becomes a chilling game of lighting the way. Once the player reaches the Administration room, they can save the game and get a little breathing room. Then, it’s about thinking on your own feet. Being able to see is great, and light holds off the terrifying enemy stalking you in the bunkers. However, this comes at a cost. Everything in this game carries consequences. The noisy light crank will offer scant comfort, but any noise can bring the creature into your domain, and a quick way of announcing ‘Hi, I’m Lunch!’ The generator can be stocked up with fuel for extra light, but this is another gamble. There are a limited number of fuel cans in the world, and they will not respawn. Use them up too early, and you’re up shit creek without a paddle when the generator goes off.
Logistics always matter, and some of the most terrifying moments occurred when I was far away from my safe house. I had made significant progress in salvaging resources but got the willies every time I heard the creature moving on me. The AI of the enemy is brilliant, and The Bunker pits players against an unstoppable enemy. It was time to return to the safehouse, but just when I was halfway back, the generator went offline, plunging me into darkness. I couldn’t use my noisy crank to light the way, and I heard the monster drawing closer. To make matters worse, I was slightly injured with my bandages back in camp. Wounds attract hordes of rats, so the idea of being eaten alive by rodents in the darkness wins the ‘Shit Death Top Trumps’ award, just above being killed by this evil monster… thing.
So I had to somehow scramble in the dark, relying on my ears and hugging the corridors to survive. I had a couple of bullets in my gun, but it only stuns the monster for a few seconds. This is not a game where victory is an option — only survival with whatever exists of your soul. The monster caught up with me, but by some miracle, I was able to evade and hide long enough to avoid being slaughtered. The safe house was in sight.
And then accidentally, I shot a gas tank. Oops. That happens. So, it blew up and I caught fire. Three guesses about what happened to me then. Yep, I died. Right outside the safehouse.
When I reloaded and all that progress was gone, I just sat in my chair, still breathing hard. What a terrifying series of events, wrapped up in a slice of gaming that I won’t forget quickly. Amnesia the Bunker is brutal, full of freedom, and brilliant. There are a much of modifiers available as a New Game Plus mode, as well as mod support. I haven’t tinkered with mods yet, but there’s already a survival-based mod that offers a ton more customization, so I’m looking forward to it.
I’m not amazingly keen on the horror genre, but so far, Amnesia the Bunker is fantastic. Sure, it scares the willies out of me and I’m awful at it, but how can I not love it? If you’re on the fence, give Bunker a go.