There’s no doubt that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a pivotal game in today’s industry. Though it’s no technical marvel, Amnesia played a major part in helping the meteoric rise of Let’s Plays as an entertainment option. Now, nine years to the month after The Dark Descent first launched, the franchise has a new home on Switch. Despite its age, Amnesia: Collection provides a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be passed by lightly.
If you’ve not experienced Amnesia before, this collection is composed of three games: The Dark Descent, its expansion Justine, and A Machine for Pigs. Each game follows the same basic premise. You wake up in a strange location, having no memory of prior events. By exploring your locale, you’ll start to piece together the events that led to your situation, all while coming face to face with the horrific, deadly consequences of your actions.
Mostly, the gameplay revolves around exploration and interaction with your environment. Amnesia focuses on physical object interaction, so actions such as opening a door or turning a valve require you to actually move them. On one hand, this enables you to play more stealthily, as you can open a door just a crack to make sure the coast is clear before barging in. However, it also creates moments of intensity during chases, since you can get caught up trying to push a pull door.
In The Dark Descent, you have to balance exploration and stealth with your sanity. Looking at monsters or staying in darkness for extended periods will cause you to lose your sanity, at which point you immediately faint for a few moments. This largely doesn’t affect anything (unless you’re on hard mode) as you’ll then get up with your sanity restored. Faint at the wrong time however, and you’ll be left defenseless from an advancing enemy. There are some puzzles as well, but these generally boil down to scavenger hunts and using the correct items at the correct times.
The other two games do their own things to increase their fear factor. In addition to the sanity meter, Justine incorporates a permadeath system. If you die at any point during the game, you’re forced to do it all over from the beginning. Thankfully, as an expansion, Justine is rather short, so death isn’t too costly. Meanwhile, A Machine for Pigs removes the sanity system entirely (along with the inventory system), meaning that puzzles focus more on environmental interaction.
Going into the collection, I was most curious to see how well Amnesia runs on Switch. I’m happy to report that Amnesia: Collection performs incredibly well. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell the difference between it and the original PC versions. Even in handheld mode, I never experienced any problems, although the text was small and hard to read. The graphics don’t look all that great either, but that’s entirely a product of age, not hardware performance.
While I don’t see this as a major problem, I also noticed that there was no way to switch games from within the collection. Every time I wanted to move between titles, I had to close out of the collection, reboot it, then pick my game of choice. As most people won’t be swapping back and forth that often, it’s almost a non-issue, but I still think there should’ve been a way to go from one game to another with ease.
A faithful port
Amnesia: Collection is a faithful port of the classic horror franchise. Despite the aged graphics, the gameplay and scares hold up incredibly well, even in handheld mode. While I don’t ever expect to be playing it this way (in order to prevent a situation like that in the trailer), having the ability to more easily take Amnesia on the go is always a good thing in my book. If you’ve never experienced Amnesia before, there’s never been a better time to dive into it than now!
A review code was provided by the publisher.