Developed and published by Frictional Games, Amnesia: The Bunker carries an iconic franchise name and one that kickstarted a very important horror genre. Amnesia: The Bunker is the fourth game in the franchise however it changes the formula and brings many new things into the mix which is a pleasant surprise. Suited for both hardcore horror fans and casual stealth game fans, Amnesia: The Bunker caters to a wide range of audiences. Amnesia: The Bunker comes at a time when survival horror has seen some really amazing titles and hence it makes it even more important for it to really shine and show us what the developer is capable of today. This is our review of Amnesia: The Bunker on the PS4 in which we explore a haunted World War I bunker and try not to explore our own self with a grenade while running for our life.
Amnesia: The Bunker is set inside a World War I bunker which was occupied by the French forces however it fell into despair after the Beast arrived here and tore everyone apart. This bunker is designed exactly how you would picture a World War I bunker with different rooms and small, narrow corridors with dim lights leading up to them. There is one generator for the whole bunker that keeps it lit however it requires petrol to keep it running. You step into the shoes of the French soldier Henri Clement who is trying to find his friend and rescue him from the German soldiers. He is caught in the crossfire with his friend and when he wakes up, he finds himself inside this very bunker, but it is now abandoned, the only exit blocked and a deadly Beast stalking the dark corridors.
After a brief introductory bit where the game teaches you all of the in-game mechanics, you will find yourself inside this bunker and the game basically just lets you lose just like the Beast. There is very little the game tells you about what you need to do after you wake up in the bunker and this is where it starts to get tough. You have the whole bunker to yourself, and only key locations are locked while the rest is open for you to explore at your will. You have to work around keeping the main generator alive and exploring all of the bunker to find clues, supplies, and different items required for progression. You have to find codes to open doors, solve puzzles to access different areas and also get rid of the annoying mice which are eating corpses and sometimes will block your progress.
While doing this, you also have to ensure that you are not making too much noise in order to attract the Beast. The Beast does appear in different locations but mostly, it is because of your noise, and every time you explore something or run around, you will have to ensure that you are not making too much noise. As long as the generator is running, it will ensure that there are lights everywhere and it will reduce the chance of the Beast attacking you. However, the generator goes through the petrol really quickly and you have to get back to it in order to fill it up. The main hub of the bunker is the Admin office where you can save your game and also refill the generator. There is a map of the entire bunker here where you can plot your next move.
The whole bunker is designed in a way that all facilities ultimately connect with each other through the Admin office so this is where you set up your base naturally. No matter where you are going, you can just go to the Admin and from there, move to the desired area and look for things. The generator powers up the entire bunker so it is vital that you keep it working for as long as you can. Having the generator on does not mean that the Beast will not hunt you, but it reduces the chance since it escapes from the light. If the generator runs out of petrol, the whole bunker goes dark and the Beast becomes more active. At this point, you have to rely on your flashlight which is really noisy because it is dynamo powered and you have to charge it again and again thus making it easier for the Beast to find you.
In Amnesia: The Bunker, one of the main things that you will find different in the game is that the enemy known as the Beast is not limited to certain areas of the whole bunker. Rather, the Beast has different access ways throughout the bunker, and depending on how much noise you make, it will suddenly pop out in any room or area. This makes Amnesia: The Bunker even more frightening because the threat of you running into the Beast is always there and you have to be extremely careful with how you move around and how much noise you are actually making. This puts it in the same lines as that of Alien: Isolation where you have to be careful at all times and making noises will attract the enemy. There is only one threat in Amnesia: The Bunker but its omnipresence and the thought that it can pop out of everywhere, really keeps you on your toes.
Apart from the randomness, there are a few instances where the Beast will come out because it is scripted. These sequences are mostly for cutscenes and other scripted scenes where it comes out suddenly, scares you, and then leaves while you skulk in a corner awaiting your certain death. It is possible to escape the Beast once it is following you however the in-game mechanics are not that easy which makes you slow down for charging your torch or opening a door. As you explore the bunker, minding your own business, solving puzzles, and figuring out what to do next, you will hear the Beast moving above in the ceiling and inside the walls all around you. You will see different holes in walls as well which are the normal areas from where it might pop out suddenly.
As much as you have to remain quiet, Amnesia: The Bunker loves loud bangs and noises because some of the blockades and doors that you will open for progressing in the game will be accessed with the help of gunshots or grenades. While it makes sense that you are inside a World War I bunker and there is plenty of ammo just lying around for you to find, you actively have to use the ammo and grenades to progress in the game. Even if you do not have grenades, you have to find and pick up bricks that are really big and throw them not once, but twice at doors to break them down to ensure that if the Beast did not hear you the very first time, it certainly did the second time. After that, you have to run away from that particular area because the creature will certainly come to investigate the noise.
With all this said, one thing is for certain, and you might even notice it while playing, you are not as helpless as you felt in earlier Amnesia titles where you had literally nothing to defend yourself. This time around, you can use different things such as grenades, and shoot with your revolver to fend off the Beast and buy yourself some time. This is still a really tough job because finding ammo is really hard, and the grenades require precise throws to make them useful. Apart from the Beast, you will find some huge rats who are feeding on corpses all around the bunkers and they will hurt you as well, so you have to conserve your ammo for these situations as well. Your defense is not as weak when compared with previous titles but this time around, you at least have a small chance to do something instead of just dying if you fail to escape.
Visually, Amnesia: The Bunker might not be a striker but the environment inside the bunker is atmospheric to the point that roaming around in its corridors can feel like a chore itself. As you move around, you will hear distant noises and the Stalking moving around in the shadows. There is blood everywhere and dead bodies of other soldiers lying here and there. Distant explosions make the whole bunker tremble, and you feel like it will fall down on your head. There are a lot of instances where you feel like the monster is right at you, but it is not, and this is where the sound design of the game really shines as well. Both the haunting atmosphere and the equally spooky sound design work in tandem to deliver an experience that is amazing both aesthetically and to hear. You might not know but the worst jumpscare might not even come from the Beast but rather one of the traps set inside the bunker.
Technically, Amnesia: The Bunker runs great on a PS4 system however the loading times could take a little while. There is only one initial load when you start the game, but it takes a little longer on the console. It might be the best time and it could be because of the factor that the modern consoles have SSDs, and the game loading times are really short now, but it did occur to me that it took a little longer to load. This might be because of the fact that Amnesia: The Bunker is a sort of an open-world game, and you can go anywhere without any other loading screen once you are inside the game. Apart from this, the frames were fairly steady, and I do not remember encountering any other technical hiccups with the game. It ran fairly well during my two playthroughs.
Amnesia: The Bunker is not a very long game, but I guess Frictional Games never wanted to deliver a horror game that lasted for a long time. You can easily complete the entire game in one sitting and that too in a fairly less amount of time once you get the hang of the mechanics. This time around, the developer focused on delivering an atmospheric location with an open-world experience where horror and tension take the best of you. It is a new direction for the franchise in many ways, but I am happy to see the developer adding new mechanics into the mix because, underneath all the fancy new things, the core gameplay mechanics remain similar to the original Amnesia release from 2010. I love the new setting, the new direction, and how the new game still packs the tension and horror the original game is known for. I am happy to report here that Frictional Games has still got it.
While Amnesia: The Bunker is a completely new game with a new setting and direction, it still has the iconic Frictional Games DNA in it, and it is evident right from the start of the game. There are some aspects that still need more work if Frictional Games wants to move along this formula in the future such as the enemy AI, but it is a strong foundation and it only bids well for the future of the franchise. I also like how the game treats NewGame+ which randomizes gameplay every time. This seriously increases the replayability of the game because the same level of tension and urgency is found every time since you do not know where the codes and other useful information are located. If you love horror and the iconic cat-n-mouse formula that put Amnesia on the map then you will absolutely love spending time in it. It is a solid horror survival game, and it shows that Frictional Games is not out of the picture yet.
Final Score: 8.5/10