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What The Critics Are Saying About Amnesia: Rebirth

For a decade, the Amnesia franchise lit the way for horror video games. One of the best horror games you could ever play, Amnesia: The Dark Descent demonstrated the power of witnessing disturbing events from a first-person perspective, all while making the cliché and overused amnesiac hero trope feel fresh yet terrifying. Ever since Frictional Games launched the first entry in the Amnesia franchise, audiences have looked forward to future Amnesia installments. After giving The Chinese Room a crack at the franchise with Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Frictional Games returns to the series it started with Amnesia: Rebirth.


How does Frictional Games' newest entry fare? Did taking a break to develop Soma (another dark game worth playing, especially on consoles) inject the studio with enough new life to produce a fresh Amnesia title? According to critics, Amnesia: Rebirth is a scary, enjoyable game, even if it isn't quite what they expected.

Amnesia: Rebirth continues the proud tradition that was set in place by the original Amnesia — as well as Penumbra. You need to stealth your way through dark, claustrophobic locations, piece together the story, and light up as many torches as possible or keep your lantern topped off with oil to stave off the darkness. After all, the protagonist Tasi survived a plane crash, found herself marooned in a desert with little in the way of shelter or fellow survivors, and discovered an amulet that teleported her between alternate dimensions. And, she's pregnant and worried for her unborn baby. Merely stepping into the darkness is enough to drive her batty, so maintaining Tasi's sanity is a must.


As with previous Amnesia games and their amnesiac protagonists, Tasi is at the forefront of Amnesia: Rebirth's story. Even though Tasi has to survive eldritch horrors, much of the narrative revolves around her past traumas, family relationships, and how they culminate to her current situation. GameSpot relished the ways Amnesia: Rebirth intertwined Tasi's internal past problems with the external present supernatural terrors, especially since the game features several difficult decisions that are neither easy to make nor sit through.

Even though Amnesia: Rebirth uses many of the mechanics from past Amnesia titles, the game delights in subverting expectations. GamesRadar commends the title for its surprisingly complicated puzzles and brightly-lit areas. All subversions are not created equal, but many are still nonetheless appreciated. The ability to monitor your lamp oil supply without pausing the game, for example, is a quality of life subversion that is welcome.

However, not everyone views Amnesia: Rebirth the same way. The features that elicit praise from some bring out scorn from others. For example, while Gamespot and Game Rant found the jumpscares caused by staying in the dark for too long well-earned and motivating, other sites like Game Informer criticized the scares as downright cheap. Puzzles, meanwhile, caught the attention of Game Rant, which called them rewarding, but Game Informer was much less enthused by the puzzles, believing them to be unclear, obtuse, and devoid of tension.


One review in particular might hold the answer to much of the criticism of Amnesia: Rebirth. During his 12-minute review, GmanLives pointed out that playing the game with the wrong mindset will result in a bad time. According to the reviewer, Amnesia: Rebirth isn't a survival horror title but a "spooky, narrative-driven puzzle game," and approaching it as a survival horror experience results in disappointment.

However, despite presumably cracking the code behind enjoying Amnesia: Rebirth, GmanLives' review wasn't without criticism. For example, he disliked that the game introduces mechanics early on— such as surviving desert heat and using the amulet to traverse dimensions — and forgets about them in later levels.

Another criticism raised by GmanLives, one which other reviews echo, was the lack of any genuine threat. Not only did GmanLives find the jumpscares tedious, but the enemies were too few and far between. Game Informer criticized the game's monsters for being too slow and dimwitted, while Push Square added that even if you do get caught by monsters, they lack any fear factor. Push Square even discovered a glitch where, if you are caught by monsters, you will respawn in a new location far ahead from where you previously were, incentivizing being caught by enemies instead of running away from them. Since Tasi can't die from the monsters or from the darkness, all tension evaporates.


When you examine all of Amnesia: Rebirth's reviews, the game's nature as a narrative-driven experience becomes readily apparent. The game is scary, not because you are afraid and challenge your survival skills, but because you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist and fear for her mental well-being in the face of supernatural terrors. If you play Amnesia: Rebirth any other way, you are literally playing the game wrong, at least as far as reviews are concerned.