Amnesia: Rebirth drops later this month and we’ve got a new look at what’s to come with five glorious minutes of gameplay action showing off puzzles, terror, and how this franchise is taking a page from Soma’s book.
Frictional Games is taking the Amnesia franchise to new heights with a 1930s tale dripping in intrigue and nightmares. This series has undergone several evolutions during its time, but Rebirth aims to offer a “fresh” experience for a beloved horror journey. Check out the latest gameplay trailer below:
Creative Director Thomas Grip recently took to the PlayStation Blog to drop even more details about the upcoming game and how they are doing things a little differently. Sometimes, even more primatively.
According to Grip, their goal as horror curators is not necessarily to make the game more “fun” but to make it more immersive instead. The more this world feels real, the more the terror feels real, and the more impact a game in this genre will ultimately have.
In the blog, Grip mentions that they’ve really pulled deep from Gothic horror and drew inspiration from iconic creators such as Edgar Allen Poe and H.P Lovecraft. The true beauty of these stories, according to the director, is that the protagonists are vulnerable, not all-powerful heroes. It’s with that vulnerability that players are forced out of their comfort zones and given no other choice but to explore unfamiliar territory and “unsettling environments.”
He also adds that while the mechanics for Amnesia did a solid job at providing this environment 10 years ago, the team felt the need to “dig deep” into the root mechanics and pull ways to improve them and alter them more into that Gothic Horror vision.
This change was achieved through a variety of ways. “One is the ability to light various things,” Grip says. “In The Dark Descent, the player collects tinderboxes and can then use these to light torches, candles, and so forth. Being able to light up a dark environment like this is essential to get the feel of exploring an unknown and creepy locale. However, there were lots of issues with bringing the old system into Rebirth. For one, we couldn’t use tinderboxes as they no longer fit with the period the game takes place in (1930s) and it always felt a bit odd to just light candles by clicking on them.”
The team instead chose to change the torch mechanic, swapping it out for matches that, like the protagonist, are also vulnerable and flimsy. “The solution we eventually ended up with was to have matches that the player needed to light before using them on a candle or lamp. This allows the player to light many nearby light sources at the same time, and also lets the matches serve as an additional light source. This might seem like a slight change but it comes with a lot of benefits.”
So how is Rebirth pulling from Soma, you might be wondering? Instead of the traditional sanity, the team instead leaned into a narrative impacted by illness instead:
When reimplementing this for Rebirth, the major updates were not just on a systemic level, but also on a narrative one. While we did a lot of tweaks in order for the whole system to be more reactive, the major change was how it affected the player. Having some generic idea of ‘sanity’ that got lower also felt a bit simplistic to us. In Rebirth, the protagonist Tasi is afflicted by a mysterious disease, which is all part of the story. The more afraid Tasi becomes, from darkness or terrifying sights, the worse the symptoms get. This means that we now give players a much more visceral reason to care about the fear.
This draws on a lesson from creating our previous game, SOMA. Here, the main focus of the game was to explore consciousness and what it means to be human. This is not really something that can be done via moment-to-moment gameplay. Instead, we had to let this slowly brew over hours of the game experience. Designing SOMA like this was a major gamble for us. We didn’t know if it would work, and since it required so much of the game to be completed to test, iteration times were long and frustrating. Luckily it paid off, and it gave us the confidence to do something similar in Rebirth.
As Tasi’s condition worsens, the motivation for the player to continue on grows. The ultimate goal here is to be just as impactful as the mind-swapping seen in Soma, if not more so.
The failure system is another way this team overhauled what we think we know about the Amnesia franchise. Grip mentions that one key lesson the studio has learned from past games is that if a player has to repeat an action enough times, the fear factor eventually goes away completely. That’s where the failure system comes into play: this keeps the game fresh and the mistakes meaningful.
An important pivot with this from Dark Decent was to relate the failure system with the ingrained fear system. “If Tasi becomes too frightened, her affliction will take a harsh turn for the worse. There will be very visible changes to her appearance, and worse still, it will have immense narrative significance. If the affliction goes too far, not only will it threaten the life of herself, but also of her loved ones.”
I’m a huge wimp, I’ll freely admit that, and just writing about this has me halfway to peeing my pants. I’m going to play it though, not well but I am going to play it. The changes sound amazing and the above gameplay looks incredible.
We’ll be able to sink our teeth into this horror adventure when Amnesia: Rebirth debuts on October 20.
[Source: PlayStation Blog]