Foresight can be a disturbing thing, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs paints this well in its story of a scientist and inventor locked behind the walls of his own business empire, filled with ideals, and maddened by what the world will inevitably become.
Yet, there is a twist to this character. He awakes in his caged bed from fever dreams and can remember only that his children are somewhere. And his amnesia allows him to see himself from fresh eyes, to see what he became, and possibly to redeem his misdeeds.
So he sets off into this labyrinth of horror to save his children from the terrors that await as he delves deeper into the machine of his own creation.
Machine for Pigs is similar to the first Amnesia, but also very different. Several elements have been removed. Characters no longer have an inventory, there is no longer a sanity meter, and you won’t need to find fuel for your lantern. You also can no longer pick up just any object in the game, and there are no longer closets strewn along the way for you to hide in.
The removal of all these elements makes the player pay less attention to “gaming” elements and more towards the ambiance and story.
This approach actually works well. The horror elements of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs are in its ambiance and story.
The best contrast may be Outlast. In Outlast, every time you complete a task and enemy will likely chase you, and it’s this frequent torment from the unstable inhabitants of the asylum that builds terror. Things jump out at you, and you are expected to run and hide.
Machine for Pigs is more of a psychological horror game. While it does have enemies, which are also terrifying, your encounters with them are infrequent. But the developers enhance the atmosphere of terror with ghostly whispers, music that twists into horrific notes, and a sense of horror that seems to grow around you.
In one room, for example, a record plays a woman singing opera songs that are ghastly and mournful while an orchestra seems to build and build without end. The paintings on the walls show scenes that are twisted and grotesque. The feeling is almost unbearable, you feel you need to escape from it, and you run outside only to be greeted by more disturbing scenes.
Similar to the first Amnesia, you play as a character who is haunted by his own misdeeds, and uncovers the monster he became while he also faces the monsters he helped create.
Machine for Pigs is also very deep. While the story is grotesque, it’s also about a man entering the 20th century who saw that the world would become even more grotesque than what he created. It’s a tale of when the world was on its last cusp of innocence before plunging headlong into the first and second world wars, the rise of communist dictatorships, genocide, and all the very real horrors that would arise.
It becomes a commentary on man’s creations, and the terrors we brought on ourselves through our own mechanical monsters. It’s a story of lost innocence, and a hope for redemption.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a fairly short game. If you can play through without getting lost too often, it should take around four hours to complete. But the focus is on the story, and the tale is like a well done Lovecraftian take on Frankenstein.
It is also a very scary game. It induces a much deeper sense of fear than just being chased by monsters. It uses ambiance, suspense, and a frightening story to create an atmosphere of utter terror.
Anyone lacks tolerance for horror should skip this one. It may be difficult for some players to make it through, due to sheer horror. Yet anyone who enjoys horror films or games will likely enjoy A Machine for Pigs.