Hide And Shriek: Amnesia – Dark Descent

Dinner's ready!

Frictional, they behind the fascinating Penumbra series, have put up a teaser trailer for their next game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Well, they call it a teaser. It’s almost four minutes of game footage. It reveals that the game is going to work in a similar way to the Penumbras, first-person, but with a cursor on screen for interacting with the world. Which is splendid news, since it’s been my constant lament that no one else in adventure gaming has had the scrap of sense to copy this, or license Frictional’s self-made engine. It makes meaningful use of physics in first-person gaming, rather than leaving you feeling like some balloon-handed drunk crashing into everything. And you can lean. And get scared.

This is really promising. And very dark. You might want to close curtains, smash lightbulbs, and perhaps blow up the sun, so you can see what’s going on. But it’s all part of their stated goal “to create the most frightening and disturbing experience possible.” Well, watch below to see if you think they’re going to be capable of this. With the same clever use of breathing and heartbeats that made Penumbra’s spooky moments so effective, but here only more so, there’s a good chance they will.

There’s no indication of whether there will be combat (Penumbra’s big failing), but so far it suggests the main mechanic will be running away and hiding in a wardrobe. Oh, and as the video says, consider pre-ordering at this point. Frictional are indies, and pre-ordering helps fund the project. And if you do, it’s a tiny $16. Cheers to Craig for the tip.


  1. The Great Wayne says:

    Looks good. And somehow Silent-Hill like, I think.

    Still have the penumbra trilogy to play on my steam account, I’ll have to dedicate some time exploring it.

  2. Metalfish says:

    Bugger me, that’s terrifying.

  3. Merli says:

    If there is no combat or barely any I might buy this.
    It’s only scary when you are weak after all.

    • disperse says:

      Any idea what kind of save system they are going to use? The suspense can easily be killed by a Quick Save system but inconveniently spaced checkpoints can be frustrating if you have to play through the same section over and over.

    • MWoody says:

      The original Penumbra series had checkpoint saves, but you could actually flip a switch in the INI for quicksaves.

    • disperse says:

      Ahh, that might help if you were stuck on a section.

      Wouldn’t it be awesome if the creatures placed procedurally (a la L4D)? Then, if you have to replay a section, the suspense would still be there because you wouldn’t know what’s lurking behind that next corner.

  4. Michael says:

    I was wondering when the Penumbra guys were gonna get around to making a new game. I played the first and loved it despite all its flaws, and I haven’t gotten around to the second one, which is supposed to be even better, i.e. combat-less. The physics puzzles were pretty clever, and the atmosphere was pretty thick.

  5. AVarotsis says:

    So preordering this. Penumbra scared me quite shitless.

  6. Toby says:

    The second one is far superior in pretty much every aspect, but the third is slightly disappointing mainly because of the disjointed nature of the narrative. They are must plays, though, primarily because there isn’t anything quite like them.

  7. Rich says:

    Can’t say I enjoy the sense of vulnerability. It was balanced nicely in Thief: Deadly Shadows (never played Thief 1 or 2), but even then there were times when I really had to work myself up to carry on.

  8. MarkSide says:

    The audio on the breathing is very clever. Wow.
    I possibly won’t be playing it, though, as the original pre-retail Penumbra made me wet my pants.

  9. Thirith says:

    Definite shades of Call of Cthulhu.

  10. Taillefer says:

    Dark Corners mixed with Dark Project equals Dark Descent?
    Audio is often the key, and they seemed to have gotten that right. I’ll definitely be playing this one, could be something a bit special.

  11. invisiblejesus says:

    Ahem… DO! WANT!

  12. Casimir's Blake says:

    It reveals that the game is going to work in a similar way to the Penumbras, first-person, but with a cursor on screen for interacting with the world.

    John, if you haven’t already, please seek out Realms Of The Haunting. Yeah, it’s old, but it’s bloody good.

    And this? This looks fantastic. I’m considering trying Penumbra now, but I’m not an “adventure” fan…

    • Lilliput King says:

      They’re quite unusual. They only fit under the adventure heading because they can’t really be put under anything else.

      Like Dead Space, what they really nail is the audio, though.

  13. jackflash says:

    Preordered on their web site. I’m only 29 on their pre-order-o-meter, help them get to 2000!

    The penumbra collection was one of my favorite gaming experiences of the last year, highly recommended. Scared the sh*t out of me on occasion, and oozing with atmosphere.

  14. ZIGS says:

    Consider it preordered. Penumbra is among my top 5 best PC games ever

  15. Jayt says:

    Preordered, I’m speechless after the trailer.

  16. Patrick says:


  17. Vandelay says:

    Pretty awesome stuff.

    I keep meaning to get hold of Penumbra. There was a time last year or so when it was constantly appearing in weekend deals, but I didn’t know anything about it at the time. After reading a little and trying the (very brief) demo, I was ready to make the plunge, but just haven’t gotten round to it. The lack of mountains of cash and no decent weekend deals since hasn’t helped.

    From what hear of Penumbra, as well as this trailer, just goes to show what I have always maintained; gaming is the best place for horror. The tension and atmosphere just doesn’t come across in the same way in any other medium, with the possible exception of theatre. Just look at The Cradle or Dark Corners as proof of this.

  18. Ricc says:

    I always thought that chances for a new Penumbra like game were slim, because they weren’t able to properly finish the last episode of the main series.

    These are truly scary games, like I haven’t seen any else. Checking out the preorder. :)

  19. Casimir's Blake says:

    It has to be better than Aliens vs. Predator… at least have a useable mouselook.

    I wonder if Frictional have played Whiteday by Sonnori?

  20. linfosoma says:

    I’ve been waiting for this for so long, as soon as Im back home from work Im so pre-ordering this.
    I hope it sells well, they deserve it after the incredible experience that was Penumbra.

  21. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the game i’m currently making is a cross between penumbra and the blade runner game, i’m planning on having it in shape to be in the next igf.

    i looked into licensing thier engine and apparently it’s not in any shape for third parties to use.

  22. IM19208 says:

    Black Plague is one of the most atmospheric games i ever played. Awesome piece of code.

    Already preorder Amnesia. Must have.

  23. Quests says:

    Omg, im in heavens. Fantastic stuff. Cursor to interact.

    FINALLY, i missed you so much, dear old “examine” verb.

  24. paul newman says:

    link to forums.somethingawful.com

    good let’s play of all penumbra games, still running

  25. ChaK_ says:

    awesome !

    *note in his release date sheet*

    Penumbra was awesome and it’s smell penumbra all around

  26. reginald says:

    I say this actually looks too frightening. Some would argue that “thats the point” but I actually think its damaging to the game overall. Penumbra and Siren had this problem as well. basically, you have to navigate every area perfectly, because anything else will result in a failure state (ie: you get found or killed). the beauty of the old silent hill games was an impeding sense of doom, without actually being too difficult to play, mechanically.

    I’ve spoken to a lot of people that just closed the penumbra demo after 20 minutes because “it was hard, and too stressful”.

    • Ricc says:

      The Penumbra games mostly have some contained puzzle / action / hide / chase sequences, that are connected by larger free-roaming areas with enemies. They force you to collect items that are needed some place else, so encounters are inevitable.

      It is true that unexpected things can happen at any time. When you finally solve a larger puzzle or get out of a particular hole, just to fall right into the next one, it’s all the more exhilerating, though.

      I find the Penumbra games very stressfull indeed, but also good at letting you approach the high-tension moments at your own pace.

  27. invisiblejesus says:

    BTW, for those who haven’t hit their site yet they have a goal of 2000 preorders by May 31st. If that happens, the game’s going to get additional content beyond what they already have planned. They’re up to 80 preorders as of now. 81 once I drop some money in the ATM. :) Anyway, there’s a little more incentive to preorder if you were on the fence.

  28. Pope Guilty says:

    I played Penumbra: Overture and was severely unimpressed. The wandering around and investigating was neat, but then a monster showed up and apparently I was supposed to work out a way of electrocuting it without any indication that that was possible. That I was supposed to figure that out within the thirty seconds it took for the monster to get to me and kill me was the icing on the “No, fuckyou” cake.

    • Dominic White says:

      I feel compelled to point and laugh at you. I also don’t recall any early enemies you have to electrocute, either… are you talking about the early tech demo? Because that really was just a tech demo, and nowhere near the quality of the final game.

  29. Eddy9000 says:

    I got so scared by the trailer that I actually had to turn the sound off!

    • mlaskus says:

      Heh, me too. I’m definitely not going to play this game, or any horror for that matter. I am too much of a wuss.

  30. elyscape says:

    Penumbra was so terrifying that I couldn’t play it for longer than about 20 minutes at a time, and not a whole lot even happened in it! It was just pure atmosphere! So I’ll probably not sleep for months after playing this.
    Which is to say I’m fucking preordering it.

  31. Jossoy says:

    This video was astoundingly scary, but I couldn’t help but giggle at the irony in the progression of video games. We’ve always had the brazen hero who stumbles through thousands of enemies in the name of some woman he barely even knows, and now, in 2010, we have this guy stumbling slowly through hallways, fumbling through side rooms as he hears a woman (who i believe we’re to assume he came to this place with) screaming in fear, bleeding down a hallway, and as soon as the screams get loud enough, he turns tail and runs for the nearest wardrobe.

    A note on audio: No game since the Thief series has really hit me with its ability to make you feel that you’re walking through a stone cavern- the creaky doors in this video are perfect, it’s the footsteps. They seem weak, like you’re walking outside. I hope they’re just placeholders or they add a reverb effect to them in the final game.

  32. Chiller says:

    I’ll probably play this, mostly because these folks actually know how to make good games. Personally, I prefer to have the big guns available in case of necessity but I do understand that it’s much harder to make a scary game with actual firepower. IMO, the first Penumbra was the best precisely because it had that rudimentary combat system, awkward like it was and definitely not good enough to get you through everything. Well, no matter which way they go with that, the game will probably be good anyway.

  33. fdsgdshdhsdh says:

    the comat was def the worst aspect of the otherwise amazing penumbro games. Once you realise that the dogs cant actually harm you when you stand on a box and smash em on the head it sorta lost something

  34. Soobe says:

    They have a pre-order-meter on their site–I just ordered mine, ORDER YOURS NOW.

    This is as anti-Assassins Creed as you can get–a small developer making great games–Support them, I command you!

  35. eclipse mattaru says:

    To all of you wondering about the saves system, combat or lack thereof, gameplay mechanics and such, I recommend following the developers’ blog at http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com

    These guys have been giving all those issues (and then a couple more) a lot of thought, and they have some very interesting ideas.

    • Taillefer says:

      Good read about the trailer and about the detail that never occurred to me was designed purposefully; arranging the items on the table so some fell off when you dragged it, to create a sense of urgency – that’s brilliant.

  36. bill says:

    I always meant to pick up the penumbra games in one of the sales, but there was always something else with a bigger discount so I got distracted! $10 game reduced to $5 isn’t as catchy as $30 game reduced to $5 i guess.

  37. Tweakd says:

    Excellent news. The Penumbra series impressed me and immersed me into it’s world like no other. They really know how to do horror. This is a pre-order for me.

  38. GGX_Justice says:

    Just pre-ordered. I did it for Red and I did it especially to spite Clarence.

    Frictional Games, you champs deserve it!

  39. Subject 706 says:

    I must be a masochist, because games like this stress the hell out of me, but I love playing them anyway. With headphones on, late at night. The wife has learnt this, and enjoys lurking behind me and giving me a heart attack every once in a while. Oh the joy :)


    • ChaK_ says:

      there are some risk dying in that story

      Either heartattack or punch in the mouth

    • Subject 706 says:

      Yes indeed. She has learnt to keep her distance :)

  40. Hmm says:

    Looks amazing. Day one purchase.

  41. KBoogle says:

    While we are on and off the topic of Penumbra, is the first one recommended before playing the second? I doubt I would have the time to play the two (or the guts, to be honest).
    I got the pack of three during one of steam’s sales, and tried playing the first, but didn’t get very far. The dogs in the hallway terrified me. And I’ve never even seen them!

  42. Gregg B says:

    @KBoogle: I’d highly recommend playing the first game because aside from it being a top slow burning horror title in itself, it sets the sequel up perfectly. I’m pretty sure you’d lose a lot of the context by just jumping straight into Black Plague. That and the quite horrific (in the good sense) ending is revealed in the intro to Black Plague. Overture is the build up and who’d want to miss that? ;-) Seriously if you can, play them both in order. The first episode shouldn’t take longer than 10 hours on a cautious playthrough. Hope that helps a bit.

  43. Ozzie says:

    This was goddamn awesome. Wow, if the game will just work like this…amazing…it was already scary to watch, but god, I think I couldn’t stand playing it for longer than 10 minutes at a time! I would probably need a time out to calm down and tell me again and again that it’s just a game, that everything’s fine,…
    …actually, the last game where I had to do this was Trilby’s Notes. And in hindsight, the experience was a lot less scary than I thought it would be. But the thoughts of what might happen, that randomly, out of nowhere, the evil guy would appear and kill me, ehm, I mean Trilby…that was terrifying. Sadly, or gladly(?), Trilby’s Notes made it always clear when you were in danger. I think some potential got lost because of this.

    But it looks like Amnesia won’t give you many calm moments…will pre-order! :)

  44. Ozzie says:

    A bit off-topic: why does the online store request all this address information!? I order the game online, as a digital download, so why does the site need my address? Well, guess I have to enter fake data again…

  45. Ozzie says:

    And I spared the VAT when I entered Afghanistan as my country…

  46. Gamer_V says:

    I had about pre-order number 80, and it’s now on 179. What I’m wondering if that’s actually a good amount of sales after three days. On one hand, it doesn’t seem much, but on the other hand, it is for an indie game that isn’t being released for 6 months… hmm.

  47. Urthman says:

    If what you like about this is puzzle-solving physics in first-person gaming, you should really try the Research and Development mod for Half-Life 2.

    link to moddb.com

    It’s one of the best games I’ve played in the past year. It’s clever and funny. It has good puzzles that are fun to solve. It does a whole bunch of different, innovative things with its premise. It has moments that make you feel awesome. It’s well designed and well crafted. It’s free.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Frosty says:

    Son of a….I was trying to save money and now this pops up and reminds me I need to buy Penumbra. Which I just did. Damn it.

  49. Nik Daum says:

    Is anyone else distracted by the way hand looks when it carries the lamp?

    To me, it’s like one of the worms from Tremors that came out of the mouths of the Graboids.

  50. luminosity says:

    Hooray! It feels so weird playing non-Penumbra adventure games now. The first person, hand interface is just so right. And adding the visceral feel to puzzles of having to arrange it all by hand yourself instead of clicking in 3 different places in your inventory and then on the ground elevates even a simple puzzle to a really great experience.

    Pre-ordered. :)