Remember this: both Amnesia games are free right now

Hey, come here a second. I want you to stare at this dank room full of eerie machinery. Really give it a good stare. Drink in the atmosphere, maybe play with some of the meatblobs, think about how small we are in the universe, and

BOO!

Liked that, did you? If you quite like a spot of spooking with cosmic horror and science gone meatwild, you might enjoy more free scares in Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Amnesia: A Machine for pigs. The pair of first-person puzzle-o-horrors are free for keepsies right now, see, Steam keys and all.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the first one, was released in 2010 by Frictional Games. They’d made the similar Penumbra series of games before this, but Amnesia saw them really step into the quicklimelight. Our resident evil evaluater, Adam, will tell you it’s the 15th best horror game ever ever. After The Dark Descent, Frictional went on to make its undersea sibling, Soma, and lent the Amnesia name to another studio.

2013’s Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is made Dear Esther studio The Chinese Room. It’s a little different, stripping the game back to focus on telling a jolly unpleasant story. Some folks don’t like that but both Adam and Old Man Rossignol dug it.

What do I think? Ah ha ha I am a giant baby is what I think.

You can grab the pair on the Humble Store until 10am Pacific on Saturday the 27th, which is 6pm UK time. They come for Windows, Mac, and Linux as a Steam key.

This is all to draw attention to Humble’s winter sale, which is still ongoing.

24 Comments

  1. Darth Gangrel says:

    I really don’t like these games (even despite them being Swedish and well received) or others where it feels like you’re completely defenseless whenever an enemy shows up. In Amnesia, you lost your mind and could die of stress just by seeing an enemy. That’s not frightening, that’s annoying. I’d really like a game where you’re able to run away parkour-like (Dying Light sounds good in that respect) or put obstacles/traps/alarms.

    Clive Barker’s Undying is my golden standard when it comes to horror games, it always made you fear the next enemy attack and let you know in advance that an enemy was near, but you never knew how far away it was or when it would come. A similar thing was done in the old Alien versus Predator games where the marine had a sensor, which would show if an enemy was near. That kind of constant fear worked really well, even though you were able to kill the monsters in both games.

    • Daymare says:

      As someone who likes both Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Machine for Pigs, the fact that you’re mostly defenseless didn’t play that much into my enjoyment. It was far more about atmosphere, darkness, no map to orientate myself, a risk of being discovered in light, and how creepy the monsters and settings were.

      Besides, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its ilk were born, I think, from too many horror games at the time giving too much power to the player. There’s not too many AA or AAA games like it, are there? The only one that comes to my mind is Alien: Isolation, and even that let you kill the robits and chase away the xeno.

      Personally, I also find that just because the Silent Hill-style of player weaponization (i.e. you can fight back, but are generally underpowered and resource starved) is generally a good and balanced way to make a horror game, doesn’t have to be the ONLY one. A more traditional shooter (like Dead Space) can be just fun, and a more walking-sim-ish horror experience like Amnesia might be a good contrast to that afterwards.

      So personally, I’d rather we had different sorts of player agency in horror games, depending on the type of horror and tension you want to achieve.

      PS: SOMA still didn’t give you a weapon, and it was fuckin’ great imo. Except for your character being an absolute idiot at that one point.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Thanks for your reply. Amnesia doesn’t seem that annoying anymore, but it doesn’t make me want to play the Amnesia games much more than previously. I’d rather play something like the games I mentioned as good examples (Undying and AvP), their kind is also quite rare.

        I have played Dead Space and enjoyed it and Soma seems better than the Amnesia’s from what I’ve read, but haven’t played any Silent Hill games. Maybe I should do so someday.

        • Daymare says:

          So I’ve only seen a bit of Undying in a let’s play, but the graphics and atmosphere don’t seem to have aged very well. It’s all a bit goofy, looks like Unreal to me.

          The first Silent Hill is also pretty ancient, but for my money, two and three looks still pretty good and all the early ones especially have that balance of power and weakness that I think you like.

          There’s also the more recent Evil Within and Evil Within 2, both of which look pretty good, give you weapons but limit your ammo and survival is tense. Monster design is also pretty ace, which is what I like most about horror games.

          Then personally I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil 7, having never played any of the others (the earlier especially are very survival-ish) it’s immensely detailed, set in a single location and fucks you up in so many ways. There’s still guns but it’s a mixture between Amnesia-type enemies that you’re (almost) powerless against and strong enemies that you can engage directly if you want. Again, resources are highly limited, careful aiming and ammo conservation are required.

          Then of course, last year’s great cyberpunkish Observer doesn’t let you fight back, but you’re an old detective in a Polish slum, and the game is far more focused on exploration and dialogue and enemies are extremely sparse.

          My indie tip would be the horrifying Cry of Fear, which I think uses the Half Life engine. It might be closest to what you like, in fact, if Undying is your thing (minus magic). It’s free to download afaik and is set entirely in an average Scandinavian city.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Yeah you’re dead on about that, and a lot of folks forget or never knew that context, but the Amnesia approach was pretty much a necessary response to the ever-increasing deluge of horror games who couldnt resist the mainstream appeal in going horror-action. Pretty sure Resident Evil 4 or 5 officially legitimized that as the flavor du jour, but with stuff like the shitty Alone in the Dark action-reboot and the later Silent Hill games which purists said were ruining the series with their increased focus on combat, you basically had the perfect low pressure zone for the formation of a momentary popularity storm, delineated by the negative space that was the lack of other games like Amnesia – at the time. As it is, we’ve still only seen a few “triumphant returns to form,” namely Alien and SOMA, but it still remains a bit of a niche thing, being weak and liking it, I mean. But I expect that shifting balance in broad public tastes will always apply – you just can’t want what you already have, haha.

        But yeah, the Amnesia thing made perfect sense at the time. It was a very deliberate answer to the current trend of the mainstream, which was one of those weird things where nobody seems to like it but it still sells like crazy.

    • automatic says:

      I played Soma and although I didn’t even knew it was a horror game before playing it I enjoyed it a lot. I think what makes the game interesting is the balance between exploration and the raw sense of survival that has nothing to do with collecting items on “survival” games. There wasn’t a single moment when I tought I’d randomly die to an unknown threat and yet I was still scared of unknown threats. I think that’s because devs knew how to give players enough power to avoid threats without destroying them. That’s something I found unique in this game and I believe it comes from the Amnesia series. You feel way less powerful than the protagonist in Alien Isolation for example and yet your actions feel much more meaningful. I recomend it to everyone.

    • dethtoll says:

      My gold standard is Alien Isolation. It gives you a feeling of helplessness while still giving the player agency with even meagre forms of self-defense.

      As far as the “I have no hands and I must wank” genre of horror games goes, SOMA is the only one I really like.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Ditto. I have a hard head for horror games, though I like them anyway, but Alien: Isolation is the first and last game in years that makes me genuinely tense and frightened. I love a good horror hide n’ seek, but usually it’s just fun and exciting, not a legitimately paranoid experience. Why is the Alien game so damn good at that..??

        Actually, I think the fidelity to the crumbling space station setting really helps, at least in my case, cus I’m one of those people who is totally phobic about large, empty spaces… like, yknow, space. It feels the exact same as claustrophobia, which inconveniently, I also get. Restraint or containment of any kind just freaks me out, and the space station setting manages to work in the ever-present threat of yet another of my basest fears: suffocation. Couple that with the fact it’s fucking *Alien* and I start to get suspicious they designed this game specifically off a brain scan of my childhood..!

  2. Hyena Grin says:

    I was gifted Amnesia a long while ago by someone who knew I was easily spooked by horror games, and he tried to tell me that because it was a gift I had to play it.

    I think I played for maybe ten minutes before I uninstalled it, knowing full well I was never going to complete it. Didn’t even get to the monsters. I’m a huge wuss. I will play a spooky/scary game if that’s not all it has going for it, but just do not enjoy being frightened the way others seem to. My friend might as well have given me a pie full of nails and told me I had to eat it ‘because it was a gift.’

    I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING, DAVE

    But hey, I’ll add the sequel to my library. Free is free, right?

    • Massenstein says:

      YEAH, DAVE. Ugh. I got it for free and tried to get into it but I guess it wasn’t the kind of horror I want.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Tbh, for free I’d say the sequel’s worth it just for the main menu music.

  3. Kefren says:

    Some of my fave games are the Penumbras, Amnesias, and Somas of this world. I just find Frictional stuff so immersive. For me they are up there with my other favourite series (Thief, System Shock, Deus Ex etc). I often forget that I’m playing a game with all those.

    • Megatron says:

      Hear, hear. I say exactly this a lot around these parts. They’re about the only dev team I know who took Looking Glass’ best lessons on board and tried to continue them. Their games are storytelling masterclasses, and they haven’t let me down yet.

      • jj2112 says:

        So sad Looking Glass disappeared… I still have Terra Nova installed on an old computer to replay it some day, their games were brilliant.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Thief was a horror game in parts. And System Shock… respawning the enemies somewhere on the level like those invisible blobs on the level with no electric lights.

  4. Viral Frog says:

    I’m gonna preface this with the fact that it was years ago when I played Amnesia last and my taste in games has changed drastically since. With that said, I never could get on with the game. The whole, “you’re pathetically useless, run and hide” type gameplay was a complete turn off. I didn’t get too far in, really.

    With that said, I did try to get into the game. The graphics are a bit meh, but that sound design? That sound design is simply amazing. There were parts where I was certain I was being followed by something and it made me proceed with extra caution. Came to find out that in most of those cases, there wasn’t actually anything there. The sound was just that convincing.

    I may try to get back around to it soon. I’m a lot more patient and tolerant of less action-oriented titles nowadays and have grown more fond of the stealthy type games. Also, graphics are (for the most part) a non-issue to me, so the fact that it doesn’t look stellar doesn’t bother me at all.

  5. cpt_freakout says:

    I recently got into Machine for Pigs and was surprised at how good it is. Beyond people in this site, I’d read everyone hated it, but since I really like ‘walking sims’ I thought I’d give it a shot. It was a real treat, and I’m glad I played it. The Chinese Room approach suits the Amnesia setting perfectly, and it really is just the most ‘gamey’ parts (avoid this enemy or that one in this labyrinth) that feel a bit off. The exaggerated writing and all the disperse metaphors turn it into a very interesting, terrifying experience, going way beyond the ‘terror’ of the game itself… so much that I thought the story’s much better than Dark Descent, even though it might not be as good a game. Anyway, it’s free, so yeah!

  6. rustybroomhandle says:

    Ah nice. I forgot about these.

  7. Gurrah says:

    I’ve just realised all the free humble games of the last 6 months I grabbed vanished – there’s a certain set period (beyond the actual free offer) you have to actually claim and activate the key on Steam.

    I certainly didn’t know that, maybe include it in your posts so people who just want to grab the game quickly and play it later aren’t left disappointed when they go back to actually redeem the key.

    • Dezmiatu says:

      It’s always bitter when you first learn about humble bundle’s timed giveaways. I learned when I forgot to redeem the key to Stealth Inc 2. I was so distraught I added the game to my wishlist and then went back to playing Stealth Bastards.

      But it haunts me, having to financially support a game maker whose games I enjoy. When will we create the utopia where people can eat and pay with likes and stars?

  8. WoodGuyThreepBrush says:

    The mechanic where you couldn’t look at the monster is the cleverest I’ve seen. In most horror games, you become familiar with the monster and it seriously loses it’s effect, just becoming a regular chore. In amnesia, the game punishes you for looking at the monster, so it always manages to retain it’s sense of mystery and unknown fear throughout

  9. grrrz says:

    Frictional Games is probably my favorite studio. The prison in Amnesia is probably one of the scariest place in a video game ever. Penumbra and Soma are also fantastic games. The only other game on par with theirs that I playd recently is “the observer”.