Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
It is New Years Eve, 1899. You are Oswald Mandus, a wealthy business owner in London who has awakened in his home to the voices of his children. In your attempt to find them, our protagonist comes across relics of his blurry past through journal entries and flashbacks. They all detail strange events and happening in Mr. Mandus' meat processing plant, and also make mentions of a trip to Mexico, and a mysterious machine beneath the plant.
Like its predecessor, The Dark Descent, you see the world from the characters' point of view. The inventory and sanity systems from the previous game have been removed, and your light source has infinite fuel. Items and doors can be grabbed, thrown, open, and closed. And of course, this game has its own 'monsters' that the player will have to avoid, hide, or run from altogether.
Credits (Windows version)
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|The Drama was Crafted by
|The Computational Magikery was by
|The Machine and Its Surrounding Architectures were Given Form by
|Overture and All Other Musics were Composed by
|Whilst Associated and Environmental Sound Effects were Produced by
|With Additional Creations from
|The Story of Mandus' Struggle Against the Machine and His Own Conscience was Written by
|The Manpigs were Designed and Sculptured by
|Edwin and Enoch Mandus were Designed and Sculptured by
|And the Fine Citizens of London by
|[ full credits ]
Average score: 74% (based on 47 ratings)
Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 31 ratings with 1 reviews)
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, A Machine for Pigs's biggest weakness is the fact that it's calling itself an Amnesia game. This makes its flaws stand out all the more.
The Dark Descent established itself as one of the most acclaimed and scariest horror games; making comparisons is inevitable. The developers of Dark Descent took care to dress their storyline and their scares in robust gameplay. By contrast, A Machine for Pigs was designed as a "notgame". A mission statement at http://notgames.org/blog/ makes the intention clear: "Let design mean the building of bridges and the opening of doors, not the hiding of keys and the cowardly sniper shot. Welcome the player with open arms, be an entertaining host." Laudable goals, these: don't block the player with an insurmountable cliff, don't let your world become yet another addition to the infamous "exty-ex percent of gamers never finish the game" statistics. But maybe the Amnesia series is not the right home for such an endeavour.
For someone who still remembers the puzzles from Dark Descent - they weren't tough brain-teasers, but interesting and varied all the same - most of the laughable pseudo-puzzles of Machine feel like a travesty. Most of them fall into two categories: either "go down the only available hallway and press the huge obvious lever to open up another hallway", or "pick up an item and carry it to the slot." Sometimes that slot is literally an inch away. There is a part where you're facing a control panel full of buttons, some activated, some not, and at first it seems like you've finally got some thinking to do; figure out the right sequence? Not so. The solution to the puzzle is to switch on all the buttons. Not all puzzles are like this, thankfully, but they are comparably rare. Sometimes, badly designed games feel like a chore to play. Machine goes too far in the other direction; by the end of the game especially it feels like you're playing an interactive movie, just pressing the walk forward key and occasionally clicking away a poor attempt at a puzzle. It feels sometimes like the developers hastily added on a lot of fluff to make the game just a bit longer and less painfully straightforward.
And what about the monsters? Machine's pigmen, compared to the genuinely menacing enemies in Dark Descent, are greatly disappointing. They look more silly than grotesque, and don't cause fear. Maybe initially, when you still expect them to be an overpowering menace. Then you find out that you can just run past them more often than not--when they appear at all, that is, which is rarely. Dark Descent comes calling again: I remember panicked fleeing from the guardians of Brennenburg Castle, desperately ducking into rooms and closing doors behind me. Machine tries to evoke the same kind of a feeling, but falls short; it's even kind enough to close the doors for you, just to take away any hints of tension from the chase scenes.
So, in the end, A Machine for Pigs fails as a game. Luckily it's more than a game, and succeeds greatly in other areas.
I described it above as an "interactive movie" and indeed this is what it is--if by "movie" you mean thrilling productions which use the potential of film art to the fullest. The plot is complex and engaging, and it is told through excellent writing; the game also features great voice acting, especially by one character--you'll know him when you'll hear him. The prose is quite brilliant, and stands way above what we'd usually expect from a video game. The choreography is amazing; several scenes stick in the mind for a long time, especially thanks to the enrapturing music which usually accompanies them. If the designers wanted their game to feel like an experience, that they succeeded at. One caveat is that the story is at times too unclear, which takes away from the atmosphere; it's annoying when you cannot enjoy a pivotal scene because you have no idea what's going on, or you get the wrong idea entirely.
One last aspect is the graphics. They are very good, and crafted with expertise; especially the hulking machinery looks impressive once activated and in motion. Even at low graphic settings Machine is a pleasure to watch. The level design, however, I can't rate as highly. There is a lot of linearity; most of the time there's only one obvious path ahead, and if there are two, one typically terminates in a dead end or immediately connects with the other one. And, especially towards the end of the game, the sheer similarity and monotony of the same dark corridors begins to really grate on you.
All in all I'm not sure what to say about the game. It is an engaging tale, and I don't know if it would work as well if it was made into a movie or a book. However, the gameplay itself feels very bare-bones and dissatisfying, and--especially compared to its predecessor--the game is a very mediocre horror at best. If you can find the game cheap somewhere, you might find it a memorable experience, but, wonderful as the plotting is, I don't think it's worth a high price.
Windows · by Havoc Crow (29771) · 2015
|Feb 1, 2014
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Game added by powerstone05.
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Game added November 19, 2013. Last modified February 22, 2024.