Frictional Games have published another trailer for upcoming horror adventure Amnesia: Rebirth. It lets on a bit about the story and showcases quite a lot of the game’s environments as well. One thing does jump out: the latter are all quite different. Unlike the horror romps Frictional have done before, they explain, Rebirth will put an emphasis on touring you through locations that are quite different from one another.
In a new blog post on the matter, creative director Thomas Grip explains that they believe that the variety will give players an incentive to push through their fear to the end of the game. A good story will do that too, which Frictional are also quite excellent at, but the promise of new sights with each phase of the story is another draw. “When deciding on the environments in the game, it quickly dawned on us that setting most of it in the desert wouldn’t do,” Grip says. “In full sunlight a desert looks too much like a day at the beach, which wouldn’t invoke the sense of dread we wanted from this game.”
Instead, they’ve scared up quite a lot of other locales, ancient ruins and underground caves and surreal, otherworldly landscapes. It’s quite a difference from Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Soma which, for the most part, take place in pretty same-y spaces. There’s a bit of variation, sure, but The Dark Descent largely involves a castle throughout which you’ll see the same walls, doors, and décor. Soma was a bit more ambitious, but still focused on its enclosed stations, though it did have neat sections where you step out into the deep, open ocean.
“Things are not that simple in Amnesia: Rebirth,” Grip says. “The problem is that many of the environments don’t have much in common. Most of the assets for the caves really only work within those caves, and so on. So when we needed an interior for the fort, we had to create everything from scratch.”
Even gameplay got hung up on a similar issue, Grip says. “We often needed to rethink how basic gameplay would work in the different environments. How do I hide if there are no doors? What light sources can be lit in an environment where no-one has candles or oil lamps? What resources would it make sense to find here?”
I’ll try to keep my reverence in check here, but I’ve been in development and sat in meetings to discuss getting as much possible mileage out of a set of environment pieces. Reuse is the lifeblood of the budget-conscious. It’s not as if Frictional invented the concept, but it genuinely is a commitment to toss your ability to reuse assets throughout a game—especially when Frictional have shown with past games that they’re quite capable of constructing excellence with a limited set of building blocks. They’ve gone and fixed a thing that wasn’t broken, hopefully for the better.
You can catch some hints at the story in the trailer above as well. The crew of a plane called the Cassandra crashed in the desert in 1937, after which they clearly had a real bad time in the desert.