Amnesia: The Bunker PS4 Review – The beloved Amnesia franchise sees a new release in the form of Amnesia: The Bunker. With guns joining the franchise for the first time, does it maintain the series’ beloved tense namesake? Find out in our full review below!
Amnesia: The Bunker PS5 Review: Engaging Exploration And World Building, Tedious And Frustrating Monster
French soldier Henri Clement is the only remaining person in the bunker. All paths out of the bunker are blocked off or caved in, and he must escape. However, the reason Henri is alone is not because of the war outside. The Beast stalks the empty halls, looking for you at every turn.
What works in Amnesia’s favor here is how well the team constructed the map. The game’s setting stays entirely in the bunker, but the branches of the bunker all feel and look different. Between the shelling outside and the monster inside, all of the branching trenches are in different states of disarray.
Amnesia: The Bunker delivers an absolutely palpably tense atmosphere at all times. Stretches of time remain quiet with that silence broken by shelling or by your interacting with objects around you. Your footsteps carry sound quite a ways, making silence a tricky effort.
During your time navigating the bunker, a mysterious creature stalks you from underground trenches that extend from room to room. This beasty doesn’t like light at all. So, the best way to combat this undying creature is to keep the lights on. In order to do that, you need to salvage gas cans sprinkled throughout the bunker and continuously fill up the generator.
While this game doesn’t offer much guidance outside of initial controls, Amnesia does give you a stopwatch, which lets you synchronize it to the generator to see how long you have before the power goes out. This may sound like a handy feature, but like everything else in this game you have to decide if keeping the stopwatch in your limited inventory space is worth it or not.
Managing Resources And Surroundings
Inventory plays a big part in this game. You only start off with nine slots for items, and you pick up more and more reusable equipment, like a gas mask and metal cutter, that you need regularly. The only items that don’t take up your precious inventory space are bullets. The guns still need a free slot each to bring them with you.
With all this in mind, managing your bag space is crucial to your success. At the same time, the overall map is not massive, and you regularly return to your central hub, where you can store items you don’t need. This creates a welcome balance between constricted inventory space and freedom to explore the map.
Alongside all of this, you must keep one thing in mind: This game includes only two or three automatic save points. The rest of the time, you need to activate lanterns to save your game. One lantern sits in your central hub, and each branch of the trench includes its own. However, you won’t be able to reach each branch’s lantern right away. You need to micromanage your exploration a lot more in the beginning.
You Are Not Alone Here
In all honesty, I didn’t start to enjoy the game until I finally unlocked the save points in each branch. In no way, shape, or form does this fault come from map construction.
What truly causes this issue is the lurking monster in the trenches. The intentions behind this creature is to keep you constantly aware of your behaviour as well as your surroundings. The beast follows you, and the only way to know it’s nearby is by the snarls it makes.
In the early couple hours, this creature creates a great deal of tension. After that, though, the issues in its programming quickly start to build up. First, its AI is all over the place. Sometimes it pops out of a hole facing you as you go into a closet, but it doesn’t see you. Other times, you run far away from him and into a small room with a door that was already closed, and it just smashes its way in and catches you.
Then, it also doesn’t always respond to loud noises but then comes immediately from a door creak. This could be explained by just how close the creature is, but let me detail further.
Another tell-tale hint that the creature is nearby is that it pokes its clawed hand out of the trench holes. At one point, I threw a grenade to kill some rats. Just before it exploded, I saw the creature’s hand pop out from a trench. The grenade went off, and the creature’s hand disappeared. The creature never came out to investigate the sound.
About The Monster…
I firmly believe that I would have never even seen some of these anomalous scenarios if I hadn’t been cornered and thus was killed so many times by the monster. About 70% of the time, the monster grabs you from a hole or pops out between you and the only exit. It also has an incredibly generous reach, so getting within 10 feet of it essentially means you die. The only exception is when you have full health on easy mode, but still you only survive when it grabs your foot. If it grabs your body, you still die immediately.
On normal or hard difficulties, this occurs far more frequently. The monster’s sensitivity to sound goes up, and it often hears you even when you walk; on easy, the monster hears you far less frequently when you just walk around, letting you explore a bit easier. The monster also does more damage on those difficulties
When you put all of this together, you find an enemy that proves far more tedious than terrifying. It catches you in so many situations where you just stop and accept it. Early on, this creates an early difficulty wall to overcome. One defense to this is using your gun. However, with how scarce ammunition is in this game, this is an absolute last resort. Several situations come up where you might need ammunition rounds to break down doors or shoot explosive barrels.
Enjoyable Exploration Instead of Steady Tension
I will say that I grew to enjoy the game much more once I gained a feeling for avoiding the monster. That, though, takes hindsight rather than insightfulness.
Early on, needing to react generates the game’s tension. Once you begin to anticipate everything, the tension disappears. This happens regularly with horror video games but only after subsequent playthroughs. In Amnesia, anticipation begins early in the first playthrough. The initial intrigue and potential for solid horror is lost.
That said, the joy of exploring the bunker, unlocking shortcuts, and discovering new secrets steals the show. I can’t say for sure, but it appears that The Bunker took some influence from Resident Evil in two ways: including guns and creating a Metroidvania-esque map.
I was worried about the inclusion of guns in Amnesia, but the dev team approaches guns thoughtfully here. Instead of guns being weapons exclusively, you end up using them more like tools or another means of opening up more of the map. You have the added bonus of it being a defensive option, since you can’t kill the monster that chases you. Still, this makes the inclusion of guns a fantastically executed creative choice without making the game another basic shooter. Besides, this is a war zone: Guns make sense in this setting.
The final thing to mention is game performance. When doing basic exploration, Amnesia: The Bunker performs beautifully. When things get more visually involved, performance takes different hits based on what happens.
When a scene showcases a lot of dust in the air, that dust tends to disappear and reappear in flashes, like it needs to buffer. When fire fills your screen, the frame rate drops. These don’t break the game, but they stand out and occur quite often.
There is one recurring issue that happens no matter what I do. When entering any branch of the map, the game freezes for upwards of four seconds. If you run through those fixed points, the freeze lasts longer. I lessen the issue by walking through these points while also looking at the ground. These issues will likely be patched out eventually, but they persist as of patch 1.31
The Beast Is The Elephant In The Room
Amnesia: The Bunker does a lot of things well. Exploration and world building take up most of the game for good reason: It works and plays beautifully. Even the addition of guns keeps to the franchise energy. However, the stalker enemy proves far more cumbersome than tense and suspenseful, hindering progress with frustration instead of fear. Where The Bunker lacks in horror, it makes up for in engaging gameplay.
Review code kindly provided by publisher