We’ve had no shortage of excellent survival horror games to play over recent months and years, and plenty more are coming up soon. The one that’s closest to us and thus has most of our attention is Amnesia: The Bunker, the next instalment in Frictional Games’ beloved survival horror franchise. What’s really interesting about it, other than the fact that it’s another Amnesia game, is that it’s doing a lot of things that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the series, and trying to evolve and expand its tried-and-tested formula in some pretty significant ways. Due out on May 23, excitement surrounding Amnesia: The Bunker is starting to build, and as we get closer to its launch, here, we’re going to talk about a few key things that you should know about it.
Period settings have been a permanent in all Amnesia games so far, and that’s going to be true in The Bunker as well. The game is set during World War 1, and will see players stepping into the shoes of Henri Clément, who finds himself trapped in an abandoned bunker. Armed with next to nothing, Henri’s only task now is to escape from the bunker- which will be easier said than done, because as he soon finds out, an ever-present monstrous threat is also hiding in the shadows of the bunker and is constantly hunting him.
This is where Amnesia: The Bunker starts to break away from the series’ established formula in pretty significant ways. It’ll be the first semi-open world game in the series, with almost the entire bunker open to explore from the outset. The decision of how to prioritize your tasks, what direction to head in, and where and how much to explore will be left entirely to you. According to creative lead Fredrik Olsson in an interview with GamingBolt, though the titular bunker won’t be as large or diverse as some of the environments in Amnesia: Rebirth, its subsections will have “their own unique characteristics and ambiance”, while players will also be able to explore some environments outside of the bunker.
Stalker enemies hold a special place in the hearts of many survival horror fans, even if they’re not everybody’s cup of tea, and Amnesia: The Bunker is looking like it’s going to feature a pretty intense one. As mentioned earlier, the bunker that you’ll find yourself trapped in is also home to an unknown, mysterious, nightmarish creature that is constantly stalking you and hunting you. The stalker will dynamically crawl and roam through the bunker and react to your actions, constantly looking for an opportunity to attack.
NO SANITY MECHANIC
Sanity mechanics have been a staple in the Amnesia series since its inception over a decade ago, but this is another area where The Bunker is going to deviate from the formula pretty significantly. It’s set to be the first game in the series that won’t feature a sanity mechanic. How exactly will that affect the gameplay loop, then, given how crucial it has been for Amnesia games in the past? Well, though there is no sanity mechanic, the interplay of light and darkness that the series has always been known for is still going to be a pivotal part of the experience…
LIGHT AND DARK
How will Amnesia: The Bunker implement light and darkness mechanics without a sanity system? It’ll do that through the aforementioned stalker. The terrifying creature that roams in the bunker will have two defining rules- it is attracted by sound – which means you have to be as quite as possible at all times – and it only hunts in the dark, which means if you find yourself in an area that’s illuminated, you are safe from its grasp. Interestingly enough, you’ll also be equipped with a dynamo flashlight, which can be used to dimly light dark areas- but it makes a lot of sound when you use it, which means you always run the risk of alerting the stalker to your location.
Making it out of the bunker will be your ultimate goal in the game, but you’ll also have a much more immediate concern that you’ll have to constantly keep an eye on. Amnesia: The Bunker’s semi-open world will have a central hub, a safe room where you are free from all dangers, where you’ll also find the generator that powers the bunker. Your goal? To make sure that that generator keeps running. As you scavenge and craft, and explore more and more of the bunker, and continue to make progress towards finding a way out, you’ll also have to make sure that you keep finding gas to keep the generator running- because once it stops and the lights go out, there’s nothing stopping the stalker from tearing you to shreds.
Amnesia games have never really been about combat- rather than fighting threats head on, they’ve tended to focus more on hiding or running from them. Amnesia: The Bunker will bring a new twist to that formula by equipping you with a gun (which makes sense, seeing as you’re playing as a World War 1 soldier). How exactly will that affect the gameplay though? In an interview with GamingBolt, creative lead Frederik Olsson described it as follows: “The revolver is just as much a tool as it is a weapon. It can, for example, be used to shoot open a padlock, set fire to a fuel puddle, or make an explosives barrel explode. While it could be used for defense, the revolver is often considered a last resort due to the limited ammo. It’s not really a matter of combat in that sense but more just another tool at your disposal in your fight for survival.”
While Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Amnesia: Rebirth were both around 8-10 hours long, The Bunker is going to be a noticeably shorter game with a runtime of about 4-6 hours. Speaking with GamingBolt about the game’s length, Olsson said, “For the average player, we estimate the playtime of a single playthrough to be around 4-6 hours, but it can vary quite a bit. The game’s focus is not necessarily on its length but instead on the challenge of surviving. So while some players may finish the game in as little as four hours, others may take their time to explore, think about their next move, experiment, and strategize. In the end, the duration of the game will be significantly influenced by the player’s skills and courage, as well as their preferred playstyle and decision-making.”
While Amnesia: The Bunker is going to be a shorter game than its predecessors, it is looking to be a denser experience that players keep coming back to by emphasizing replay value, a big part of which is going to be its emergent gameplay systems and its non-linear design. “We’ve made a conscious effort to avoid linearity and predictability, ensuring that every aspect of the game presents a certain level of challenge, no matter how many times you play it,” Olsson told GamingBolt. “The player should never know exactly what it will take to overcome an obstacle. To achieve this, we have opted for a set of mechanics that we believe to make a strong foundation for this type of experience. The generator that continuously burns fuel introduces an element of time and can instantly change your situation if it runs out. Combine this with the dynamic threat that hunts you, loud tools such as the revolver or grenades, and a noisy light source, and you have a very dynamic and unscripted setup. The gameplay is influenced heavily by the player’s actions, ensuring that each playthrough is unique.”
Another way Amnesia: The Bunker is going to try and emphasize replay value is by implementing some randomization mechanics, so that certain specific things will never be the same across any two playthroughs. For instance, the locations of things such as traps, resources, and important codes will all be randomized in each playthrough, while the codes themselves will be randomly generated as well, so you won’t just be able to look up what they are online.
Given its increased focus on player-driven mechanics and emergent gameplay systems, it’s no surprise that Amnesia: The Bunker is also going to be more challenging than its predecessors in some very specific ways. “We want to give the player a deeply immersive experience with much more agency and freedom,” Olsson told GamingBolt. “Unlike our previous titles, The Bunker is a difficult game that requires players to rely on their own instincts and problem-solving skills. It’s reminiscent of the games we grew up with, where experimentation was key and hand-holding was rare.”
Amnesia: The Bunker will also be available on PlayStation and Xbox when it launches on May 23, but if you intend to play it on PC, you’re not going to need a very beefy rig to run it. On minimum settings, you’ll need either an Intel Core i3 or an AMD FX 2.4 Ghz, along with either an Nvidia GTX 460, an AMD Radeon HD 5750, or an Intel HD 630, and 4 GB of RAM. Meanwhile, on recommended settings, you’ll need either an Intel Core i5 or a Ryzen 5, along with either an Nvidia GTX 680, an AMD Radeon RX 580, or an Intel Xe-HPG, and 8 GB of RAM. On either setting, you’ll also need about 35 GB of free storage space.
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