Amnesia Collection (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 03.10.2019

Review for Amnesia Collection  on Nintendo Switch

Frictional Games is no stranger to horror. Their entire portfolio is made up entirely of horror titles such as the Penumbra series and the recent Soma. Before Soma, there was Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which scared the life out of famous "Let's Players," rocketing the series to cult status. This venerable collection of nightmarish adventure compiles the legendary The Dark Descent, the more puzzle centric Justine, and the maligned A Machine for Pigs. Are Nintendo Switch owners prepared for the horror that awaits them in Amnesia Collection? Cubed3 recalls in the review!

The titles in Amnesia Collection are an interesting assortment. The crown jewel being Amnesia: The Dark Descent, is by the far the real reason why anyone would make the plunge and download this compilation. This is a very freaky experience, and shows that Frictional Games really knows what it's doing. There is an unprecedented amount of restraint when it comes to the monster that is always rarely shown, and the few glimpses that are given are utterly chilling. It is one of those games that does an excellent job at simulating insanity, thanks to some mind boggling effects that subtly twist and warp the world from the main point-of-view. Justine, for the most part carries on the same traditions as the previous entry, but is basically more of the same, but less interesting due to being incredibly short, and not expanding or experimenting on the base concept. Both have limited resources and rely on light to maintain sanity, and use an inventory system that isn't that much different from old-school Resident Evil installments.

Screenshot for Amnesia Collection  on Nintendo Switch

The game engine for The Dark Descent was designed to mess with people's minds. It is quick to react to actions the player makes, and adjusts itself after player failures. Running low on tinder boxes? Expect to find just enough to conveniently appear in nooks and crannies just when they would be most needed. Has a shambling gatherer been hassling Daniel so often it has lead to a couple of deaths? The next try may reveal that this creature may have left the area altogether. These invisible mechanics are designed to foster easy playability of what is probably the scariest game ever made. There are so many little subtle things like this going on under the hood that help make The Dark Descent very repayable and enjoyable, and most importantly, immersive. Brennenberg never feels like bespoke levels designed as set-pieces, it always feels believable and like an actual castle with a realistic floor-plan where things logically would connect... for a horror game anyway.

Justine could be best described as a mini anthology supplement. It has less monster encounters, more notes to read, and even more puzzle-solving. Much of the content might have even been rejected or concepts that could not be implemented into The Dark Descent for whatever reason. At best, this short chapter is a cute diversion that feels like a cutting room floor of ideas stitched together by a narrative. Like in The Dark Descent, the system reacts to choices and actions. Physics play a role for some puzzles, since almost every object can be picked up... unless if A Machine For Pigs is played. For some reason The Chinese Room opted to remove this feature along with everything else.

Screenshot for Amnesia Collection  on Nintendo Switch

The atmosphere in all of these titles is very bleak, and even depressing in some cases. Even the best endings earned are not much better consolation prizes considering the worst case scenarios. All this gloominess and horrible atmosphere is absolutely core to the game, since the gameplay is pretty Spartan. Aside from sneaking and puzzle-solving, don't expect much else to do in A Machine For Pigs. Even at the boot-up screen the team at Frictional Games makes a strange statement about how these titles are not meant to be "played traditionally." These are all about atmosphere and the narrative. Expect to read many notes and to take in lots of unsettling sound design. The act of simply exploring in The Dark Descent's Brennenberg's halls is sometimes unbearable because of just how horrifying the game can be; a feat that only the best survival-horror titles can achieve.

Screenshot for Amnesia Collection  on Nintendo Switch

In all three titles there will be lots of sulking around decrepit structures, scrounging for clues, key-items, or some consumables. However A Machine For Pigs is distinctly a much more simplified kind of game compared to the rest in this collection. This is easily the weakest in this package, with so many of the features seen in the past removed, plus a complete lack of subtleness. Very early on, this establishes itself without having any build-up, as well as having very comical-looking monster designs that just feel so out of place in this collection. The Dark Descent is a pretty lengthy survival-horror, but A Machine For Pigs is really short - roughly half as long, which only emphasizes just how lacking in content it actually is. Previous games had multiple endings, larger environments and better AI for the stalkers. The marriage of The Chinese Room and Frictional Games luckily ended in divorce because A Machine For Pigs is full of so much missed opportunity, and is such a good yet wasted. All manner of resource is cut; there is no more sanity to manage, the lantern will never run out of oil, and even inventory has been removed. It becomes more closer to being the worst aspects of modern survival-horror that most know of, as seen in the likes of Outlast.

Much like the other console versions, the Amnesia Collection application must be exited via the home screen and restarted should anyone wish to exit A Machine for Pigs and go back to playing The Dark Descent. This was a feature that was figured out in most compilations and while it is annoying, it does not break the game. It just should feel more like a complete package but it does not thanks to having to restart the application in this manner. It is also surprising just how all three titles in the Amnesia Collection have been compromised during the Switch porting conversion. All three games now run at 30FPS, which is unusual since the latest in the series came out in 2013 and the earliest was from 2010. There are some weird culling bugs that happen, and it usually affects long distant hallways but mostly it is A Machine for Pigs that is the most affected. Maybe it is because of the engine not agreeing with the Switch, but for whatever reason this runs very poorly, and is in a constant state of choppiness. Thankfully, this is the weakest game in the collection, and The Dark Descent, which is the best, is the least affected.

Screenshot for Amnesia Collection  on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Amnesia Collection on Switch may lack the slick polish and fidelity of the PlayStation 4, but at the very least, The Dark Descent survived mostly intact, and is still an excellent version of the scariest game ever made. It is too bad that the other entries in the collection are not quite up to the Frictional Games' standard of quality, but even in their own merits they are decent compared to most other first-person horror titles on Switch. A Machine For Pigs, being the least restraint and absurd, makes it hard to take it seriously, but does have some qualities that make it an amusing guilty pleasure. At the very least it never bores.

Developer

Frictional Games

Publisher

Frictional Games

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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