I've talked a bit about the people at Frictional Games and The Chinese Room a number of times over the past year, be it about either the Penumbra or Amnesia series. Last August, the newest game in the Amnesia series, A Machine for Pigs was available for preorder. This was the first game that I have ever pre-ordered through Steam. For the first few weeks after pre-order I was always checking back to the store page to see if the game was somehow released early, which it wasn't. Then I seem to have forgotten about it. I guess I thought that there would be some type of notification or the game would automatically download. It didn't.
So over a month ago, on September 10th, 2013, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs went live (is that the correct verb?) and I did not notice. It wasn't until two days ago that I found I could install the game and begin playing it already. So I did.
A:AMfP, which forthwith I will just call Pigs, uses Frictional Games/ HPL2 engine, which I've talked about a couple of times regarding Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the Penumbra series. So keyboard moving and mouse looking. The mouse is also inverted.
But for why you're really here, not to read about me talking about control schemes, but for the pictures and my thoughts.
First off, this game is beautiful. There was some concern as to whether or not my system could handle playing the game but I have it running at near optimum with only the shadows at medium, because that's what the game suggested based on the hardware I'm using. I would then like to say that the game is running just fine. I have only experienced lag once or twice and was very minimal and while I did notice it, I didn't find it distracting.
With three hours in, there are a couple of things that I've noticed and forewarned, I bring up some things that might be considered by spoilers by people who don't want to know anything about the game before playing.
|Appearance of gramophones a reference to Amnesia ~Justine~ ??|
First, the game feels somewhat familiar to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you play a character named Oswald Mandus who is looking for his two children who seem to be lost, but talking to you either telepathically or via some other supernatural force. Since you are thrown into this world without knowing anything about it, you discover story points and back story by locating documents that are scattered throughout the buildings. I have a feeling that I will be slightly confused as to the overall story until the final act, just as I was with A:TDD. I had previously read from the creators that Pig while it is not a direct sequel to A:TDD, it does take place in the same universe.
Second, while you do have the infamous lantern as a primary light source, since the game takes place in 1899 London, your lantern is electric and at least presently, does not run out of power. This is something that I am both thankful and only slightly annoyed about. I'm thankful because of all the hunting I had to do in A:TDD for lantern oil and tinderboxes. However, at the same time, I feel this may have been done because of the same reason that I was thankful. At the moment, I have no fear about running out of fuel. Similar to what Resident Evil 4 did with removing the need of typewriter ribbons in order to save your game. And speaking of saving the game, in Pig, you can save at anytime and don't have to look for one of those odd artifacts.
Thirdly, you have no inventory for items. What inventory you do have is dedicated to personal journal entries and notes that have been discovered. This has me questioning how certain mechanics in the game will work. No more collecting items? Will you now have to carry every single item from one room to another? I however think that both Frictional Games and The Chinese Room know that since they've created an inventory-less game, that these types of go-to/standard puzzles won't work or at the very least will be very tedious.
Fourth(ly??), I have noticed that I cannot interact with the world as much as in previous Amnesia and Penumbra games. Books, bottles, tables are all stationary. For whatever reason, you are able to move any chair you come across and you can turn lamps on/off, but you cannot move them. There might be a reason for this that hasn't been made apparent yet, but I am a little sad by having my actions limited when before they felt almost limitless.
|It's never a good sign when the game reminds you how to run away.|
Lastly, because Pigs was also developed by thechineseroom who did the artistic game Dear Esther, combined with the lack of a usable item inventory system, I do wonder at times how threatening the world is. True, I have jumped a couple of times, but I have yet had to run away from anything chasing me. I am not sure if Pigs will be taking a Silent Hill / Monty Python and the Holy Grail "Run AWAY!!" approach to enemies/aggressors as I have yet to come across anything hostile, but I feel that time is coming very soon.
I am very intrigued with the story and my love for what both companies have accomplished is helping to fuel my quest through this world. Part of me is waiting for that gut punching moment when all the story bits fit together and I can no longer run from the horrors of the world. And I am hoping that from past experience, that I will not be disappointed when that moments arrives.