Game: Amnesia the Dark Descent

Amnesia the Dark Descent3 days ago I finished Amnesia, the Dark Descent.

Played fully on Linux with Steam in native (no Windows Emulation)!

The previous review of Game of Thrones serves as an example how a bad graphics engine nearly ruins a game, this game is a very fine example, that you do not need AAA-graphics to create a unique gaming experience.

This game is immense. And does not have all the whistles and bells of a ultra-modern cost-intensive graphics to shine.

The tension is always at a very high level. This game really *is* scary. And in a good sense! This has nothing to do with splatter effects like in Dead Space. This here is the Art of Horror game genre and places itself among the #1 references along with Silent Hill II.

The game is about sneaking in the dark, been chased by unspeakable horrors, and winding deeper and deeper into Castle Brennenburg of Baron Alexander. You unroll the story of why you are here and who the Baron is bit by bit by reading notes and memos, most of them audible.

With each hour the game gets more and more creepy and eerie. Monsters start to hunt you and you do not have any weapon for defense at hand. When you are caught, it’s over. Dead. Gone. Point. Either you run or you hide or do both. You do not get any weapon. Ever. You have about 1 hit point. This make you very vulnerable and pretty nervous when walking the dark dungeons.

And you know it all! Hearing the groaning voices of some enemy leaves you be paralyzed in panic; scaring the shit out of you.

Large part of the game is in your head: where could the monster be? What has happened here? What could happen if I act wrongly? Over there: was this a movement of some evil or simply wobbling fog? …

Some riddles are a bit hard to solve, especially in the last chapters. I remember myself at the bridges, at which one of the bridges “needed a push” to come down. I tried to get up with the other bridge part and jumping down at the “need-a-push” bridge. Over and over. T’was the wrong way doing this.

Nevertheless: 9 stars.

9/10: 9 out of 10

Game: Game of Thrones

Game_of_Thrones Finished Game of Thrones last Thursday. Even though the game has a decent story it bursts and get shattered on the shortcomings of the graphics engine. 

You play two characters: Mors, “the butcher”, Westford, a loyal warrior of the Night’s Watch and Alester Sedwick struggling to regain his heritage as Lord of Riverspring after been away for 15 years.

The story is really great and contains all the ingredients the famous Game of Thrones series features: honor, love, fights, betrayal, debauchery, violence, mystic and magic, deception, heroism, and cruelty. It’s all in there. This is a true Game of Thrones story.

Also if you watched the TV series you’ll recognize some characters: Cersei Lannister plays the plotting bitch and you simply can’t get behind Lord Varys motives and schemes. As a goodie: you have a Cameo-appereance of Mr. “Game-of-Thrones” himself: George R. R. Martin is the Maester of Bergholz. Running a little Q&A with him is quite hilarious.

Ok, there are some irrational items in there: e.g. it takes you 3 months game time to travel from Castle Black at the Wall down to the Riverlands, but after chapter 8 you are free to simply click anywhere on the map and are there within a blink of an eye.

Or: at some point Alester murmurs to himself: “pillagers will be executed” during a riot … which does not keep you away to grab and loot anything which is not nailed down. =)

But then there is the story. And what a story it is! I can remember the events in chapter 11 leaving me with my jaws wide open: WTF! The game overdoes this theme and attitude of the core Game of Thrones nature in the end like in the final events in chapter 14, but all-in-all it is a great story to experience. Westeros is here.

This is the very strong part of this game.

Then the combat techniques is quite interesting and has some charm: like in a Dragon Age 2 manner you slow down time – it actually never stops – and issue some actions. This interface is not that easy to get your hold on but after some encounters you’ll learn this new experience. And it is fun. As time does not stop you feel pressure to get to your decisions rather fast. I finished the game on normal level and every now and then I lost some combats and this is a real good experience. Be demanding so that success is sweeter.

This is the interesting part of the game.

… and then there is the game engine. They say it does not take good graphics for a great game to tell a thrilling and fascinating story. True. But the engine should at least bare some minimums. This game is an example to stress this principle.

As the audio and speakers are ranging from ok (average peasant) to excellent (Lord Varys) the Graphics are weak. All in all the textures are squishy, some motions clumsy. You find a lot of people sharing the very same faces and if I don’t know it better I would say I’ve been witness to the impossibility of the framerate dropping below 0! Seriously, you have to be very capable of suffering and be very high pain tolerant accepting this. Walking around the great hall in Castle Black is … well … demanding. Even though some places are nicely rendered like the Gift at the Wall.

If the developers had more time to improve the graphics engine this game would have been rated much higher in the critic’s world.

This is the very poor, ugly part of the game.

For the record, I needed about 36 hours at normal difficulty level and finished the story with Mors taking care of the baby outside of Westeros.

I award this game 5 out of 10 stars, thanks to the pretty cool Game of Thrones story line … nearly ruined by the half-baked graphics textures and graphics engine. It could have been better. Much better.

5/10: 5 out of 10