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The Amnesia series has been around for 13 solid years and shows no sign of quitting any time soon. Starting with Dark Descent, Amnesia has been an oft-overlooked staple of the survival horror genre.
The first Amnesia introduced many players to horror mechanics never experienced before, like a sanity meter that depletes the longer you stay in darkness.
The series continued to adapt and evolve over the years with A Machine for Pigs and Rebirth. The series even got updated graphics when it was released on consoles in 2018.
With the fourth installment in the Amnesia series, the game seems to be going in a starkly different direction. There usually aren’t any guns or weapons in Amnesia; the game is meant to be conquered with your wits, creativity, and ingenuity.
And while that creativity is still more than integral to the fourth installment in the series, you now also get a pistol, grenades, and a shotgun. Monsters and phantasms, beware!
Amnesia: The Bunker takes the series down a new path. But like the ever-evolving survival horror genre itself, new paths aren’t a bad thing. Just look at Dead by Daylight or Dead Space, pioneers of forging their own paths.
Amnesia: The Bunker might not recreate the genre or introduce new mechanics players have never encountered before. But how they utilize core elements of horror storytelling – both new and old – is masterful, heartbreaking, and gore-filled.
Let’s explore the terrors lurking within the game in this Amnesia: The Bunker review.
Visuals to Match the Time
The visuals and graphics within Amnesia: The Bunker are impressive and cutting edge for the series but not for the genre. Amnesia has never been known for its crisp visuals or stunning graphics.
It’s known for crafting a terrifyingly tense interactive story that can be conquered differently depending on a player’s disposition. Though as far as the Amnesia series is concerned, this game is the pinnacle of their visual development skills.
Nailing the visual presentation of a survival horror game can be a herculean effort. When the vast majority of the game takes place in total darkness or near it, crafting stunning cinematics or beautiful detail is near impossible.
Also, who’s going to see it? The player is too busy defending themselves from a blood-thirsty monster, trying to solve a puzzle before their light source runs out, or haphazardly attempting to make sense of the twisted, macabre series of events.
No one is stopping to comment on the frayed edges of the polygons that make up doorframes or the slow rendering of different game zones.
Suffice it to say the visuals of Amnesia: The Bunker could be better – this isn’t Resident Evil or Dead Island 2. But if you’re a fan of the series like me, you’ll be impressed with how far the team has come and how good the game looks compared to others in the franchise.
New Gameplay Informed by the Old
Like every other Amnesia game, the gameplay in Amnesia: The Bunker can be as much or as little as you want. So much of the story and the game is optional or can be skipped that I shudder to think of how quickly speedrunners can reach the credits.
I tried to experience as much of the story and game as possible and skipped almost nothing. That made the game much more rewarding and fulfilling. After all, the devs put all that hard work into making each hidden room. Why wouldn’t I explore them all?
The gameplay of Amnesia: The Bunker, while featuring guns and explosives, is still built upon the same principles of other titles in the franchise. It’s less of a game and more of an interactive story.
You’re meant to experience the beats of this horrifying tale, not test your skill against challenges. You’re meant to get scared and shaken while walking through the shoes of a fictional character, not win boss fights and collect weapon upgrades.
As such, the gameplay might be dull to most gamers who want action and thrill. I’d still argue there’s plenty of thrill in these horror tales, but to each their own.
Amnesia: The Bunker is all about solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles. But not in a trite or annoying way. The entire game feels like a WWI rip-off of the first section in Resident Evil 2 Remake. You know what I’m talking about: the police station.
Picture this: you’re stuck in an isolated building that’s under lockdown. An unstoppable monster is hunting you throughout this building.
Your goal is to make your way through this building – upgrading your inventory, finding keys to unlock doors to expand your search area, piecing together the story of what happened before you arrived, and doing everything you can to escape.
You have a few weapons, but they are ultimately useless, doing nothing more than buying you some time to run away and hide from the enemies pursuing you.
Now which game did I describe, RE2 Remake or The Bunker? We’ll never know…
What I most enjoyed about the gameplay of Amnesia: The Bunker was its semi-open world that encouraged creativity. Tired of the monster surprising you from its lair? Why not stack boxes in front of the lair’s exit? Now it can’t attack you. Wondering what to do with all those grenades?
Well, why not blast open all the locked doors you can’t find a key to? Now no secret is left undiscovered.
You could use a flare to deter those man-eating rats, or you could fashion a torch out of some cloth and use that to sweep them away, or you could just stack some boxes nearby and hop over the entire mess. There are always multiple solutions to the puzzle.
A big part of the gameplay in Amnesia: The Bunker revolves around keeping your generator supplied with gas. The generator, located in the center of the bunker, keeps the lights running for the entire underground facility.
It needs fuel to operate, however. You’ll find plenty of gas cans throughout the bunker’s many areas. The tedious part comes from returning all those gas cans to the middle of the bunker to keep your generator supplied.
Keeping the lights on at all times helps keep you sane, keeps the monster at bay, and warns you when the monster is around. If the monster is nearby, you’ll see the lights flickering unnaturally. It’s a great way to gauge whether you should go down that hallway or not.
The sound design of Amnesia: The Bunker is minimal. With the exception of one area that has creepy music playing if the generator is powered up, there is no music in The Bunker. The only sounds are eerie, atmospheric, and ambient.
That said, you’ll hear plenty of noise and sound throughout your gameplay. Amnesia: The Bunker operates on sound. The monster stalking you is nearly as blind in the dark as you, but it can hear exceptionally well.
Any and everything you do in Amnesia: The Bunker makes noise; if you generate enough noise, the monster will come running.
Something’s are quiet, like your footsteps, opening doors, and interacting with objects. But other activities, like firing your gun, breaking down doors, or setting off traps, will echo throughout the bunker and draw the monster in moments.
The only sounds you’ll hear throughout the game are the sounds of your heartbeat whenever things get dicey and the sounds of your boots on gravel everywhere you walk. But that works for Amnesia: The Bunker.
It serves to draw you into the desolate underground world. It makes the section with creepy music so much more unsettling – you know there should be silence down here, nothing more exotic than some rats crawling in the shadows.
But hearing music, or the random bangs and growls of something far larger than a rat, is a great way to feel immediately on edge.
The Story of Henri Clement
The story behind Amnesia: The Bunker was more rich and complex than I expected, with a more extensive cast of characters than usual. In most Amnesia games, there are few more than a handful of characters with names.
The protagonist, antagonist, and a few other side characters like a butler or noisy cousin. But in Amnesia: The Bunker, we’re introduced to an entire platoon of French soldiers.
Set in WWI on the borders of France, the story primarily follows two soldiers – Henri Clement and Augustin Lambert – though we’ll meet their entire squad throughout the story.
The Amnesia games all feature the same gimmick: the protagonist is inflicted with profound amnesia. And it’s often in the absolute worst way. The most important, life-altering, world-changing information is the first to be forgotten for some reason in these games, and it’s no different in The Bunker.
When Amnesia: The Bunker begins, we’re immediately thrown into dramatic trench warfare. Artillery fire is landing all around, explosions frame the screen, and your character instinctively flinches as bullets fly just overhead.
Your friend yells out from somewhere, “Just follow the trenches! They’ll lead to safety!” Mission accepted.
Alas, upon reaching safety, your character forgets everything that happened beforehand. Their name, what they’re doing here, and who their friends are. You wake up after some time recovering in the bunker to discover you’re entirely alone. No doctor, no commander, no homies.
Your goal, at first, is to make your way to the center of the bunker to gather more information. Along the way, you can figure out pretty quickly that some of your friends died down in the bunker, you’re actually not alone, and your fellow soldiers who survived left in a hurry.
A note near the center of the bunker tells you that the survivors of the platoon escaped the bunker and destroyed the exit with dynamite so the demon couldn’t follow.
At this point, you’re supposed to ask, “What demon?”
And that’s when you first meet the stalker/monster/beast/demon lurking in the bunker with you. Through some notes and a working radio, you’re able to figure out a plan:
- Gather more dynamite from the armory.
- Strap it with a detonator handle from the basement.
- Blow your way back out of the bunker.
Alas, you’ll need the tools in maintenance to reach the basement and the tools stashed in the prison to reach the armory. Before you know it, you’re up and down all over this bunker, discovering secrets you never expected.
Interface of Immersion
The user interface and design layout are minimal in the best possible way. You’re a soldier in 1916 during WWI. The interface, inventory design, and menu layout reflect this.
There are no fancy HUD options to see how many bullets are left in your gun. You’ll have to pop that bitch open and see how many are left manually. There are no quick shortcuts in the menu; everything is meant to be tedious and take time, just like it would’ve back in 1916.
In other Amnesia games, this immersion is so tedious and time-consuming that I hate it. Immerse me out of that crap, please. But the balance of it in Amnesia: The Bunker was well-struck.
Slow Progression or Speedrun?
The progress you make throughout Amnesia: The Bunker builds tension and drama like a well-written horror story. But upon beating the game, I realized I only felt like that because I played it the way the developers would’ve wanted me to: following the narrative and experiencing as much as I could.
Looking back after the credits rolled, I realized I could skip about 70% of the game since I know where to go.
The progression works as RE2 Remake worked: unlock areas of the police station little by little to uncover secrets, valuable items, and ultimately the exit. But the game continually puts this message in front of you in loading screens, on the main menu, and when you first start the game:
“You can overcome most obstacles in multiple ways. Use your wits and your brains. Experiment. If you think something might be possible to do, it probably is.”
With this in mind, you suddenly realize there are multiple ways of unlocking the communications room, you probably could just jump right through maintenance, and the whole obstacle blocking you from the armory can be overcome with a single bullet.
In RE2Remake, there are at least some areas that railroad you into a single, specific way forward. But in Amnesia: The Bunker, those railroads are particularly sparse.
If you know the layout, who needs the generator? Who needs health or ammo if you know how to avoid the monster? Just take this hallway, grab what you need, strap it to dynamite, and you’re free. The whole thing could take less than 30 mins.
Do You Have what it Takes to go Again?
Upon beating the game, I was shown a message on the main screen.
“Remember: No playthrough of The Bunker is the same as any other. Items, traps, codes and more are all random. Play again and experience the horror anew.”
I thought about this for a while. It made me realize there weren’t just multiple ways to play the game, there were multiple ways to beat the game. Can confirm, there are multiple ways to escape the monster in the end, and each different one awards a different achievement.
In this way, there is at least a small replayability factor. Try to see how quickly you can beat the game. There’s an achievement for never using the storage box; that’s probably not too hard.
And even if you aimed to experience everything you could like I did, you probably missed at least a few notes, secrets, and codes.
Little replayability, but it is there.
On a completely separate note, there are custom maps one can play in Amnesia: The Bunker. If the regular story is too dull for you, you can always build your own bunker and challenge players to survive your obstacles while avoiding the monster.
I didn’t find many maps to play aside from the sample one the game provides you, and they all seemed less engaging than the campaign since they lacked and dramatic story at their foundation. But that could increase the replayability or continued game time for some players.
Final Score: 7/10
I’d give Amnesia: The Bunker a solid 7 out of 10. It’s not groundbreaking or impressive enough to be an 8, but I enjoyed almost all the time I spent within its twisted tale, so it’s definitely higher than a 6. The story is short-lived, however, and I know this isn’t the usual format most gamers look for or enjoy.
That said, the story and how it’s delivered in Amnesia: The Bunker is Hollywood-level. I just wish the experience was longer and with more challenging puzzles reminiscent of classic Amnesia titles.
Amnesia: The Bunker is a far more grounded story than its predecessors and, on the surface, attempts to steer the series in a more action/combat-oriented direction.
But its deviations are minor at best, and its story runs too quickly to leave much of a lasting impression, either horrifying or satisfying. For fans of the Amnesia series, The Bunker is a more visceral, empathetic story to experience, with plenty of puzzles and obstacles familiar to the franchise.
Its twists are harrowing, its enemies frightening, and its horror grips you. If you’re looking for an action flick with monsters, this isn’t it.
But if you want an interactive personal story of regret, shame, and fear, this is the game for you.
Amnesia: The Bunker Alternatives
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- Martha Is Dead
- Dead Man’s Diary
- What Remains Of Edith Finch
- The Forest
- Resident Evil 7
- Short story in a game – The game is so streamlined, and the story is so tight that playing the game feels like sitting down to read a short story; it’s not a huge investment.
- The Goldilocks Zone – The puzzles aren’t too hard, so you won’t waste an hour in frustration looking for a hidden lever behind some obscure bookshelf. They exist in the Goldilocks Zone of not being too hard but not being too easy. That said, I felt like I breezed through many of the puzzles, so many they’re a little too easy.
- Balanced, As All Things Should Be – The balance of having a saferoom to retreat to and bolt the doors is a welcome departure from the Amnesia series and strikes a nice balance between danger and safety. Usually, your only option is to run or use light to fight back. Having a saferoom is definitely cathartic.
- Immersion Done Right – Everything from the posters to the character’s accents screams ‘Classic French.’ The canteens, wine bottles, flashlights, boxes, gas masks, and wrenches are all perfectly 1916.
- McGuffin After McGuffin After McGuffin – Get this to get that to get the thing that allows you to grab the other thing, which will ultimately let you get that first thing you’ve been trying to get. And you do all of that to eventually get that one important thing. Ugh.
- Combat But Also Not – Combat is wholly optional and pretty much useless. I thought I needed bullets to fight the monster, but I used more to blow up locks, barrels, and chains. Combat is a trick. You don’t ever need to shoot the monster or even other enemies, for that matter. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t horde bullets, though.
- It’s A Short Story In A Game – I beat it in one afternoon. Spending around $25 bucks on a game, you’ll beat in an afternoon might not be the best investment for some people.
Question: How many Different Endings are there in Amnesia: The Bunker?
Answer: You can unlock three different endings based on your decisions in Amnesia: The Bunker. Thankfully, they don’t require entirely different playthroughs or wildly different choices.
In the game’s final area, you’ll be left with a challenge that can be overcome in one of three ways. Based on what you choose is the ending you get.
Question: How many Weapons are there in Amnesia: The Bunker?
Answer: Technically there are only two guns in Amnesia: The Bunker and I only picked up the second with about 25 mins left of playtime.
But if you count the tools you can use as weapons and grenades as well, there are about five different weapons for you to unlock, build, or utilize in Amnesia: The Bunker.
Question: Is Amnesia: The Bunker Tied to any other Amnesia Games of the Franchise in Some Way?
Answer: Yup. One of the endings directly ties into lore and mechanics featured in past Amnesia titles. But near the end of the game, players will enter an area vastly different from the rest of the bunker, but should be more than familiar to players of other Amnesia games.
As the ending unfolds, we see how this is but a brief brush with the Other World we’ve encountered before.
Amnesia: The Bunker Review: Playlog
I beat the game in just under five hours on my Asus ROG Styx Gaming Laptop, complete with a cooling pad and color-changing LEDs.