Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Amnesia: Rebirth is scary. For those of you who were waiting with bated breath to find out if this is the Halloween game for you, then good news, because Rebirth definitely delivers enough scares and tense moments to be considered a worthy successor in the franchise. Pacing issues and repetition sully the experience a little, but its characters and gameplay mechanics make this an expedition worth taking.
Amnesia: Rebirth has you playing as Tasi Trianon who finds herself stranded in the desert, slowly trying to piece together what has happened to her. Having played for the horror, one of the things that surprised me about Rebirth is its story and how gripping it is. As a tale about (you guessed it) amnesia, there’s a lot of mystery and little moments where things click together. I’d argue it leans a bit too into the sci-fi end of things, but the reveals are satisfying and led by a really awesome main protagonist. Tasi is great throughout and you really do feel for her and want her to achieve her goals by the end of the game. I don’t really want to go into too much detail for fear of spoiling some of the twists, but the connections between some of the characters are really cool and one of the main reasons to keep playing. It’s a dynamic I haven’t really seen in a game before, and it’s easily the most memorable part of the experience here.
In regards to the presentation, there’s not really a lot to say. Rebirth looks pretty good and I liked the detailed environments and objects, but there weren’t any moments that blew me away. The best thing I can say about the graphics is that they truly make the dark feel like an enemy and light feel like a precious resource, which is obviously very important for a horror. The way that your matches light up the dark just enough is really awesome and makes the environments feel expertly crafted to react to that.
Amnesia: Rebirth Review – Playing to Forget
Rebirth plays very similarly to the other games in the series. You explore environments from a first-person perspective, solving puzzles in the environment to progress forward and learn more about what has happened to you. Beyond solving puzzles, you’re also using dwindling resources to light the environment and avoiding threats to keep your sanity from dropping. Your sanity drops every time you stay in the dark too long, or if you see something that makes Tasi scared. Have your sanity drop too far and you’ll essentially get a game over and have to restart from a checkpoint.
Amnesia‘s biggest gameplay achievement is how it makes you fear the dark and appreciate every last drop of light you can find. Keeping the lights on requires matches, and these matches require you to move slowly which means there is always a sense of dread and tension as you explore the environment. Combine that fear with trying to solve puzzles, and there were a few times early on where I had to pause and calm down.
Saying that, there is very rarely an actual threat to face throughout the campaign, although when they do pop up they are legitimately frightening and tense encounters. I would have liked to have seen a few more sections with actual enemies to avoid, although with how many puzzles there are to solve, I imagine it would have got frustrating having them appear too much. Like I said, when they appear they’re really well-done, but they don’t really appear enough.
Speaking of the puzzles, most of them feel well-crafted without being too annoying. There are some that made me roll my eyes, but there were also some that made me feel smart and like I’d actually used the environment to my advantage. Trying to solve these puzzles whilst trying to manage resources and being scared of what might be around the corner is a massive buzz, especially in the game’s first five hours. The main gameplay loop of solving puzzles and lighting up the area is satisfying for most of the campaign, but does drag towards the last quarter. The real thing that pushes you through here is seeing the conclusion to Tasi’s story, not the scares.
One thing that helps with this is the variety of locations. Whereas the first Amnesia was set in one area, Rebirth allows itself a bit more leniency due to some story reasons I won’t be mentioning. Each area plays out like a separate chapter with different puzzles and set pieces and the variety on display here is appreciated. The locations earlier in the game are definitely a lot stronger though and allow a bit more freedom in choice, with the late game’s sci-fi areas being a bit too guided and lacking enemies or obstacles.
Amnesia: Rebirth Review – A Good Horror Experience
Arguably the most important thing that Amnesia: Rebirth had to do is be scary, and it mostly achieves that goal throughout the 8-12 hour campaign. Most of the horror here comes from what lurks in the dark and the fear of fear itself, although I’d argue that it’s actually more tense and psychological than truly scary, as there aren’t actually that many threats that can harm you here. It’s impressive that I remained wary of the dark throughout the whole campaign, but once you figure out when enemies are around and when they aren’t the sanity mechanic can get a little annoying. There’s also a lack of consequence that makes it all too easy to lose some of that fear and just try and blaze a trail past enemies. If you’re just here for the scares, then there’s definitely enough to go around but you might grow a little tired by the end.
Most of my complaints come from the second half of the game. The first five hours are full of terror and mystery as you get used to how the game works and wonder what might be awaiting you when the lights go out. Further in, you get more used to things and less scared of the unknown, which means that the gameplay does suffer a bit. There are definitely still some really cool moments, but I think it would have been more effective with a shorter campaign. The converse is true of the story, which actually massively picks up around the halfway point and only gets more gripping from there.
It’s frustrating to not be able to talk about the bits of Rebirth that I liked the most due to a fear of spoiling things, but just know that there’s a lot to uncover that makes the bits that I liked less worth going through. Although the pacing and second half of the game let things down a bit, an awesome story and a campaign full of tension make Amnesia: Rebirth worth playing through for both the horror fans and the horror fearful.
Amnesia Rebirth review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information, please read our Review Policy.