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A Fascinating Postmortem On ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’

It truly bums me out when I see all of the unnecessary hate that surrounded Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs following its lukewarm reception last September. It’s far from perfect, but it is a solid horror game with a fantastically unsettling story that was almost immediately written off by many horror fans because it didn’t quite live up to the terrifying legacy of its predecessor.

A Machine for Pigs wasn’t disappointing, there’s no denying that. Even still, I’ve always respected what The Chinese Room accomplished with it, and I feel they deserve a bit more credit for their truly unique — and still mildly terrifying — take on the world Frictional established with The Dark Descent.

This game had the potential to be an unforgettable experience, but the questionable decision to remove two mechanics that were the source of much the tension that permeated every second of The Dark Descent — the oil lantern and sanity system — largely neutered the game’s ability to build suspense. With a lantern that never ran out of fuel and a protagonist who seemed to have a significantly tighter grip on his sanity, A Machine for Pigs lost the ability to be effective as a survival horror game.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the game, Gamasutra has a fascinating postmortem on it that sheds some light on the development process, what went wrong, and why The Chinese Room made the decisions they did. If you have some spare time, it’s a fantastic read.

And if you missed our review of A Machine for Pigs, you can watch it below. I only ask that you forgive the audio quality, I recorded it before I upgraded my recording equipment to the swanky, aurally pleasing stuff I use today.

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