Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

The loading screens help set the mood.
The loading screens help set the mood.

Bacon Bits

Bacon makes everything better. Hotdog? Bacon dog! Hamburger? Bacon burger! Amnesia? Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs! The eagerly awaited successor of Amnesia: The Dark Descent has been out for a few months, and I’ve finally gotten around to playing it. Does it deliver the goods? Hmm, was that oinking I heard in the darkness? Let’s investigate.

I wouldn't want to eat Mandus's meat...doesn't look sanitary
I wouldn’t want to eat Mandus’s meat…doesn’t look sanitary

Little Pig, Little Pig

In Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (which I will hence forth refer to as Piggies in this review), you play the role of Oswald Mandus. Mandus awakens in his mansion bedroom, in a cage covered bed (kinky). True to the title of the game, you can remember nothing, but are spurred into descending into the depths under the house by the voices of your children, and the occasional phone call of the shadowy “Engineer”. Bits of back story are filled in by picking up the occasional piece of note paper, listening to phonographs scattered around, or by scripted scenes where Mandus will just start waxing philosophical.

Move over Jack the Ripper, heeeeeeere's Mandus.
Move over Jack the Ripper, heeeeeeere’s Mandus.

Hunting for Truffles

If a game is defined as 1) something you play for entertainment, 2) which has a set of rules and objectives that must be met for victory, then I guess you could say Piggies is a game. You control your character from a first person perspective, guiding him from one area of interest to the next, while occasionally “solving” a “puzzle” or avoiding a hairy antagonist. The problem that many have is that the areas you navigate through are extremely linear. The puzzles you solve aren’t really puzzles (turn a valve or flip a switch usually). Your encounters with the porcine propagators of perturbation are few and far between. And before you know it, the game is over.

Does this make Piggies a waste of your time and money? Not at all. I think there is real value in this game. It has a truly dark, interesting storyline with excellent writing, great voice acting, and several dread inducing, disturbing moments to experience. The game mechanic that people have lamented (the eternal lamp) actually adds to this dread. Venture into an area with a Porkie, and it will start flickering, meaning it would be a good idea to douse it. But if you hesitate to light it again for fear of the creatures in the shadows, you’ll end up even more terrified (the imagination being much better at conjuring terrors to populate the darkness than Cheeto eating game designers).

I only really have two minor complaints.

As if normal churches weren't creepy enough.
As if normal churches weren’t creepy enough.

Pigs! You’re All PIGS!

First complaint: the game goes from very casual to frustrating in a few spots. As has been noted in many reviews, your actual encounters with enemies are rare, and even if you die, you just respawn nearby. That’s not the problem, though. In most of the game, you guide your character through a very linear path, with next to no real exploration opportunities. It makes it very easy to figure out what you need to be doing to progress…just keep walking. But then the game dumps you in a dark room with patrolling ManBearPigs, and you’re expected to find the one spot where you can escape and progress. I swear the music should have been Yackity Sacks, as I spent about 5 minutes running around in circles, doubling back to find the same monster waiting for me, in the same spot.

Next minor gripe: the game feels disjointed. I understand that some of this is probably to give you that disturbed feeling of being stuck in the dark with pot bellied, bacony beasties looking to belly up to the trough that is your face, but the game felt slapped together in spots (especially the end). One moment you’re in a dark mansion, the next a dark street, and the next a dark, underground corridor. And the eponymous Machine in which you venture though much of the game was a bit of a let down. The machine was supposed to feel alive, but in the end it just felt like they slapped a few boilers and pipes into some rooms, connected by hallways. The environments were pretty (in an ugly sort of way) and well done, but I was expecting more.

Invest in some Depends, cause this is the scariest part of the game.
Invest in some Depends, cause this is the scariest part of the game.

Kosher Meal?

In conclusion, I enjoyed playing A Machine for Pigs. It’s not a long game (I think it took me around 5 hours or so), but it’s interesting and creepy. From my way of looking at it, the game has about three acts. The first act is where you awaken in the mansion and start hunting down your children. This is before you run into the first Piggy, and the tension is masterful. The second act is the meaty middle of the game, and is packed with jump scares and lots and lots of walking through underground hallways. The third and final act was where it went off the rails for me (wait till you see the last “boss”). Buy the game when it’s on sale, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

A Machine for Pigs doesn't leave you with a lot to chew on.
A Machine for Pigs doesn’t leave you with a lot to chew on.

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