(For)Get This Now: Amnesia Demo

By Kieron Gillen on September 3rd, 2010 at 2:20 pm.

My money didn't go far in terms of finding a place to rent in London. At least it was relatively roomy.

SvDvorak was first with the news that in the lead up to its release on the 8th, the Amnesia: The Dark Descent demo is out there. Don’t look at it directly! Stay in the shadows! Be careful not to go insane! You can get the game on PC, beardy-PC or haircut-PC from any of these places. You should definitely give this a shot. I’ve only played a couple of hours of Amnesia and it’s already the scariest game of 2010. And new demo, complete with developer voice-over, shows off exactly what the physics allows…

Expect Walker’s Wot I Think to arrive just before the game comes out. Also expect Quinns’ Eurogamer review. Also expect me to stop calling it “Insomnia” instead of “Amnesia” due to my own brand of fucked-up mind-wrong. Well… probably best to only expect two of the three.

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76 Comments »

  1. SvDvorak says:

    I must say that I was too scared to actually play the demo more than a couple of minutes. My nerves can’t handle playing such a game alone in the dark. Which I guess is a glowing recommendation?

  2. Dominic White says:

    … Tempted to play demo, but also tempted to skip it, as I’ve already got it pre-pre-preordered. ‘Scariest game of 2010′ really sounds good, though. Not that there’s really been much competition.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Dominic -

      I guess you’re forgetting the Hello Kitty MMO. That scares me a hell of a lot more.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yup, I already preordered on the strength of the trailers, the Penumbra series, and Frictional’s general attitude towards development and DRM.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Having played the demo, Amnesia scares me as much as the Hello Kitty MMO(my daughter is in the target demographic, which is why it frightens me).

    • HarbourMaster says:

      Yep, I am so not going to bother with the demo. I am preordered into this nightmare already. Penumbra was one of the most interesting games in the last few years, there was no way I was going to miss out on its successor.

    • HYPERPOWERi says:

      Preordered and waiting for the full release!

      Don’t want to dilute the scary by playing the demo.

  3. Albert Wesker, CEO of Umbrella says:

    I like scary games. Pre-ordered this from GamersGate, despite their inability to use apostrophes.

  4. airtekh says:

    Scarier than Call of Pripyat? Wow, that’s some going.

    I’ll give this a crack for sure. I’m a sucker for atmospheric (read: trouser filling) games.

  5. mcnostril says:

    I want to try this, but it’s hopelessly sunny right now.
    Horror games cannot be played in these conditions.

    Not that I need to; this is pretty much an automatic buy for me.

    • IM19208 says:

      Blinds work fine for me :D

      Nice demo, cant wait for the release

    • Flaringo says:

      @mcnostril

      hahaha, I just popped in to say the same thing. Damn sun, ruining my games!

  6. UsF says:

    Your headlines remind me of Daniel Kayser from EpicBattleAxe.
    You may decide yourself if that is a good thing or bad thing.
    :D
    I like EBA and RPS.

  7. linfosoma says:

    No way Im getting this demo, I pre-ordered a long while ago and haven’t seen any trailers yet. That’s ho wmuch faith I have in the developers, I just dont want anythign spoiled.

    • kenoxite says:

      Same here. I’ll just wait for the full game. I want to be totally surprised with this one.
      I only hope it works on my ancient laptop. If not, well, more waiting for me. No problem, though. I’m patient.

  8. Tang says:

    Looking forward to this.
    I too will be stacking up barrels and crates against a door which opens the other way.

  9. Drakkheim says:

    Been looking forward to this since they announced it.
    I’m planning on hooking up the projector and converting the living room into a cave all next weekend and playing it life sized with the surround sound cranked.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      RPS Health Warning: Not recommended for those suffering from heart complaints.

  10. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Buy this game NOW, end of story, unless you hate all forms of interactive entertainment and creativity in that case you probably wont buy it, but you’d be missing out. My nerves are shot to shit & i played it during the day!

  11. panther says:

    Gonna put this off as preordered it when it was announced :>

  12. Schaulustiger says:

    I’m so NOT going to buy this. I was scared shitless even by Doom 3, I don’t want to know what this game is capable of doing with me.

    It’s a shame, but I can’t stand horror in games. In movies, it’s fine, but in games I get too immersed.

    • Dyst says:

      I’m kind of the same, although I found Penumbra and this demo completely playable even though Doom 3 scared the shit out of me. This seems to be creepier and eerie whereas Doom 3 is just “AH SHIT THE STAIRS BROKE AND THERE WAS LOADS OF ZOMBIES UNDERNEATH AND NOW THEY ARE COMING OUT AND JUMPING IN MY FACE.”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yeah, I didn’t like Doom 3 for that reason. Not because I found it scary, but because I was expecting it to play like a Doom game. Which it didn’t until you got to hell.

  13. Berm says:

    Could this become the most genuinely scary game ever made in videogame history? It sure is looking like that.

  14. Huggster says:

    Yay! A demo!
    I am currently stuck on stupid zombie dogs in the first game. Will try the demo to see how things have improved. Also have the second and third penumbra ready to play.

    • Navagon says:

      I won’t post any real spoilers, but the second and third ones are entirely devoid of combat. Which is probably the single greatest improvement they have over Overture. Black Plague is awesome.

    • Jake says:

      The first one is also devoid of combat if you run and hide a lot.

  15. ZIGS says:

    Can you disable blur? I can’t play this game (or any other for that matter) with blur enabled

    • Flaringo says:

      Yeah, I think you can disable most (if not all) of the post-processing effects.

    • ZIGS says:

      How? I went to the config files but didn’t find nothing

    • Flaringo says:

      Have you looked in the advanced graphics options in-game?

  16. Navagon says:

    Demo is damn cool. Really successfully disorientating and different from everything else out there. Well, not so much Penumbra of course, but you get the idea.

  17. chills says:

    Been waiting patiently for this before I order, not that I wasn’t going to order. It’s just too awesome looking to pass up.

  18. ikigeg says:

    That looks scary – can’t wait! Also would be awesome with that Novint Falcon thingamy… http://home.novint.com/

  19. Freud says:

    I think that the twist at the end is that the monster is you.

  20. Brendan says:

    Just finished the demo. Holy moley…

    I’m not one to be scared in games, but my heart is beating really fast right now.

  21. Shazbut says:

    The bit with the water is terrifying. Can’t wait for this.

    • SoulPride says:

      I had to stop at the water bit. Need time to recover. The game feels a lot like what I wanted Dark Corners of the Earth to be.

      I really need to play Penumbra soon, though. I bought it as part of the Humble Indie Bundle but I just haven’t got around to playing it yet.

  22. Renzatic says:

    @mcnostril

    Despite the outside being an unusually charming bright Summer afternoon, complete with birds chirping and mowers running, this demo still managed to make me tense as hell during the entire run. Specially there towards the end…when the water comes.

    Game: preordered. Adult protective undergarments: girded. I feel ready.

  23. MycoRunner says:

    Anyone else notice how the door at the beginning of the trailer opens outwards? Doesn’t that kinda negate the effectiveness of a pile of boxes? A certain scene from The Big Lebowski comes to mind.

  24. lumpi says:

    Wait, that door opened to the outside and he blocked it… from the inside? O_o

  25. Dominic White says:

    I finally gave the demo a spin. It’s the successor the Penumbra. Nuff said.

    It’s atmospheric, detailed, scary and fun. My preorder feels very justified. I’ll be surprised if it’s longer than 5-6 hours, but that should be plenty for the price I paid.

  26. Vandelay says:

    For some reason, I thought it was actually coming out today and I placed my pre-order last night, so I could get the 10% discount (still a decent full price though.) Perhaps I heard about the demo and got muddled.

    Really can’t wait for this. Not had a chance to play Penumbra, but everything I’ve seen of Frictional from these two games looks fantastic. Really reminds of Call of Cthulu, but hopefully with more refined gameplay to match the scares. All the positive buzz that is coming from this thread just makes me even more excited.

    Skipping over the demo though. I want to go in to this one completely blind.

    • Dominic White says:

      Penumbra was basically the first third (as in all adventure/puzzling/evasion, little-to-no combat) of Call of Chtulhu, expanded into a full game. It was great.

  27. Huggster says:

    That was a pretty bloody tense demo.

  28. Jharakn says:

    eeeee gods that was terrifying, and as much as it was awesome I don’t think I could handle an entire game of that, I’d be a nervous wreck.

    • dragon_hunter21 says:

      I hear you. I recorded myself playing it with Fraps and Sound Recorder, and I’m pretty sure 90% of it is whining and crying.

      I didn’t even finish- I made it to the part with the water. First time died pretty much instantly. Second time made it to the gate and back, activated the lever, and got ready to leg it back- But before the first jump, the whatever-it-is hit me (even though I was on the crate!) and killed me. That shook me up so bad that I have a nervous twitch and a considerable headache right now. Next order of business- drown my sorrows in caffeine.

  29. Seriously freaked out! says:

    Playing this in the dark with no one else in the house on a cocktail of psychotics was not the best Idea I ever had…

    It was only a game right?

    Only a demo. How much for the real deal?

    • iHavePants says:

      Heh, I’m considering the idea of playing through the full game for the first time on a tab acid in the depths of night.

      It could turn out fucking amazing, or a seriously terrible experience that I’ll heavily regret. Decisions.

      Oh and the game is 20% off on Steam up until release, which puts it currently at $15.99 US http://store.steampowered.com/app/57300/

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      You can also pre-order from Fractional for 18USD and they get all the money. :-)

    • iHavePants says:

      Yeah I’ve already had it pre-ordered from there for a while. Plus even if you do buy it from their store they will give you a Steam activation key on release.

  30. Hulk Handsome says:

    for some reason the demo chugs like hell on my computer, even when i turn everything down. which is bizarre as I can run much more demanding games. I wonder if i can cancel my pre-order :(

    • iHavePants says:

      What are your specs?

      I can run all settings on max but need to set SSAO to 8x to get decent performance, which doesn’t surprise me as SSAO kills my PC in every game.

      Also, update your drivers.

  31. Flakfizer says:

    I’m afraid……i’m not impressed.

    The website talks about exploration, immersion and a physically simulated world but the demo didn’t deliver for me.

    Following a linear path through a nice looking but architecturally implausible castle isn’t exploration, it’s a fairground ‘ghost house’ ride.

    Physics? Cool, i can smash the glass to get at the note inside….except its just a texture, not an item. I can light candles but not carry them when i’m scared of the dark? The lanterns i light with tinder stay on forever but the lantern i can carry burns through oil in seconds?

    Oh right, that’s because the dark is a gameplay mechanic (*the* mechanic?). When it reminds you so often it’s just a game i fail to see how anyone can be immersed in the world.

    On the other hand i seem to be the only person here with misgivings. Guess i’m just a jaded, cynical old gamer.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Or, you could just be stating your honest opinion.

    • mcnostril says:

      After finally trying out the demo, I have to agree that not all is roses.
      The lamp does run out annoyingly quickly, although I suppose in the course of play we’ll be able to gather more oil and tinders to last a wee bit longer (I did find some giant oil refill thingie, so there’s probably more of those). It will make hoarding the portable refills all the more interesting though.
      The sound is brilliant, but for some reason the positional audio seemed almost non-existent. In the very first area, there’s some water dripping from the ceiling – look straight at it, there is sound. Turn away from it, there’s no sound. It could be some setting messing up on my end, but the audio (stereo by the way) works fine in other games like CoP for example.
      Graphically I was a bit disappointed by the blue fog that seems to make darkness lighter (though I suppose that’s done on purpose in that particular section) and the fact that the lighting seemed more at home in Penumbra where everything was electrical… It’s not quite as convincing as an oil lamp instead of an electric torch.
      It also took some fiddling with the gamma settings. Their recommendation on the calibration screen ended up being waaaay too bright, and if you mess that up the engine shows that it’s not all that impressive.

      On the other hand, I thought the sanity effects were pretty brilliant. That crunchy sound is disturbing as all hell. Even if you rationalize as “I’m going insane” (!), it’s still a rather unnerving sound effect, and some of the effects that happen when you go off the deep end made me jump. That damn crunchy sound though. That’s one that will stay lodged in people’s mind for a long time. It’s like Dark Corners of the Earth on crack.
      What little there is of the story in this demo actually has me rather intrigued as well – as opposed to Phillip running off to the middle of frozen nowhere all by his lonesome.

      Lots of niggles, but I still have high hopes for this. This is Penumbra ++ and that can only be awesome. Even with the few problems I have with it, it’s atmospheric as hell, and when the doo doo hits the ventilation system, it does a great job at sucking you into the panic.
      I’m actually kind of curious as to how they’ve dealt with the more “trial and error” bits of gameplay. I recall a post on their blog where they struggle with that bit, and yet the demo has one particular instance of this. I wonder how much they could stay away from it.

      Let’s just hope there’s no freaking recurring wolves/zombie patrols.

    • bleeps says:

      “All is good”

      Gah!

      All is well! Bad grammar tends to break immersion for me… Maybe I should switch to decaf.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      How is “all is good” not proper grammar?

  32. Jetsetlemming says:

    I managed to break the game pretty early on, which caused my guy to freak out. That was entertaining. About a minute in there’s a tunnel closed off by collapsed rocks. I noticed a HOM effect at the top of it, so naturally decided to try to climb the rocks. There was no roof to that area and I popped out the top of the level. Later in the demo they explain being in the dark makes your sanity go down and I guess you can’t get much darker than outside level geometry.

  33. DavidK says:

    Given the following facts:

    1. avoiding darkness is crucial to the game and

    2. the engine facilitates (and encourages) you to pick things up and use them and

    3. the place is littered with handy candles and lanterns that you can light

    I don’t think I’m being trivial or overly cynical to expect to be able pick up a lit candle or a lamp.

    Maybe before I had amnesia I ran around and glued all the candles to tables? Ooh… TWIST!

    • mcnostril says:

      Bahahaha.

      It’s rather annoying I have to admit.
      They could at least have mechanic that goes “bloops, your candle went out” randomly when you pick one up if they really really don’t want you to carry them around.
      Especially annoying since you could actually do it in penumbra (well, not everywhere, but some places at least).

  34. Binman88 says:

    I enjoyed the demo and decided to pre-purchase it on Steam. The issue people have with not being able to lift up candles or torches could easily have been rectified by making said candles and torches have a short life span. There doesn’t seem to be an over-abundance of tinder boxes anyway, so it’s not like you’d be having it easy being able to light a nearby torch and carry it with you for a few moments.

    Then again, I have to have faith in the developers and assume they were smart enough to put enough oil pick-ups for a given level. I mean, to be fair, I did manage to get through the demo with relative easy with the oil and tinder boxes available to me.

    The one big problem I had was with the crank on the door near the end of the demo. There was no way in hell my mouse or the game was letting me open that thing fast enough to get away from the water monster things. It was barely turning in time with my mouse movements, pausing and going backwards every now and again. I eventually seemed to luck out by respawning at the start of that room with the the monsters gone, letting me take all the time in the world to open the door.

    • DavidK says:

      (Spoiler: distract the monster before turning wheel.)

    • Binman88 says:

      The problem was that the game wasn’t letting me turn the wheel anywhere near fast enough, so I couldn’t get the door up even with the monster distracted. It was either a problem with my mouse or the game, but whichever it was it seems to have fixed itself now – played through the demo again with no issues.

    • Gotem says:

      I did it little by little, sa teh monster goes for you when you make a lot of sound, jump back over the crate and he goes away again for another snack. And I didn’t opened completely, but crouched to pass.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I hurled myself into the water from the boxes closest to the door, grabbed hold of one of the small boxes floating in the water and threw that box wildly behind me as I heard the creature approaching before dashing back towards the big boxes, then crouching and guiding my scavenged little box towards the door. Perch on that while you spin the wheel about, and you’re safe.

  35. Lilliput King says:

    Well, that was brilliant.

  36. Malagate says:

    Indeed, I concur, I also feel the need to say that I really doubt this would spoil the experience of anyone who’s trying to save themselves for when the full game is released. It’s a really neat taste of the beginning as far as I can tell, also I don’t think there’s anything spoilt other than how to control the game and that it’s sometimes dark.

  37. Seamus says:

    Was really looking forward to this…
    Have to say I’m less than impressed so far. The whole idea of going insane from standing in the dark for too long was kind of silly and annoying in itself, but the whole idea of insanity being akin to a bad migraine, is, to quote Yahtzee, pants-on-head retarded. Hate to play Devil’s Advocate, but Dead Space dealt with insanity in a much more clever and convincing way.
    The first section of the demo where nothing much is shown, but is really thick with the atmosphere was really cool, but the section where you’re being chased by the invisible water creature was annoying and needlessly drawn-out – after about 30 seconds it just stops being scary and just becomes an annoyance.

    It’s frustrating. I really want to like this game. It’s the kind of survival horror I’ve been looking forward to playing for years, but so far, I have to say I’m not really digging it.

  38. kulak says:

    Most excellent.

    The blend of sound, perspectives and visual effects is truly masterful.

    I don’t quite get the complaints about immovable candles and darkness causing insanity.

    Surely its pretty easy to see the gameplay benefits to these features, allowing more nuances manipulation.

    Scarcity is a cornerstone of survival horror gameplay. The lantern, and the immovable lightable candles/torches, give an interesting dilema.

    Save lamp fuel and have a long look around? but risk exposing yourself permanently.

    having darkness caused insanity adds a pressure to use up oil and flints, and who knows what insanity effects may be in the later game.

    The numerous comments about people too scared to complete the demo is testament to this.

    It might not be for everyone, but its certainly pushing gaming in a more interesting direction than countless brown space marine FPS clones.

    If we’re going to talk immersion, Amnesia is head and shoulders above any other horror game that i know of.

    • Hulk Handsome says:

      The problem with the candles is that it kills the immersion quite a bit. Why can’t we simply pick a candle up and carry it around? All games require hefty suspension of belief, but that’s a pretty big one. They should have made all the light sources some kind of object that couldn’t be easily moved.

      I’m fine with the darkness causing insanity thing. It’s an interesting mechanic that adds genuine tension. I didn’t have a problem with it… only needed to fill my lantern once, only used a couple kindle boxes and made it though the demo perfectly fine.

  39. Huggster says:

    Well I just finished Penumbra BP which was superb, this feels like an even better game to me. The candles thing did not even cross my mind and it still will not bother me – just going to enjoy the game.
    There were many niggles with the original Penumbra games but it did not stop them being much better than most of the uninspired stuff which comes out.
    As for the paper in the cabinet – its probably a quest item they left out of the demo to avoid spoilers.

    These guys deserve this game to do well on the back of Penumbra. At least they are trying something new – and I applaud this. People like this move things forward instead of letting the industry stagnate.
    I liked all the camera effects and the way your control is wrestled. Its different.

    Penumbra BP reminded me of System Shock 2, a lot, and there were a number of times I literally jumped out of my seat. This brings it alongside Minecraft creepers, the cradle in Thief 3 and all those other classics. There was also one great moment I was not expecting and actually made me feel really angry and shocked (in the best possible way – not at the game itself!).

    Anyway everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I hope people don’t completely write it off for a few design choices. If you don’t like survival horror then fair enough I guess.

  40. Laura says:

    Played the demo for a bit, then when I got to the refinery I saw this man/zombie/undeadwhatever walking and it kinda freaked me out.
    Gonna wait till tomorrow when it’s all light and bright outside.
    I really don’t want to die of a heartattack

  41. tim says:

    It’s not even terribly bad as migraines go. A bad migraine can involve missing or seeing extra (!) features in structured objects, not to mention unilateral blindness. Much closer to real insanity than a throbbing wall.