Amnesia: The Bunker is the latest spine-chilling installment from Frictional Games and takes players on a harrowing journey through the horrors of World War I. As a British soldier trapped in a labyrinthine underground bunker, the game delivers an immersive and non-linear experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. After recently reviewing Trenches which follows a similar story, I wasn’t eager to go back in for more… I’m glad I did.
Immersive Survival Horror at Its Best
From the moment I stepped into the muddy boots of the protagonist, I was captivated by the atmospheric and immersive world of The Bunker. Frictional Games has a reputation for creating terrifying experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Descent, Machine for Pigs and SOMA (I haven’t played Rebirth yet) and was surprised to see this setting stray away from the previous Amnesia locales. Whilst The Bunker differs from a castle, a mansion, or caves, it still retains the claustrophobic nature of the previous titles. The game keeps you on your toes with cat-and-mouse chases and heart-pounding encounters with a relentless creature that hunts you throughout the labyrinthine bunker. Anyone who enjoyed Alien Isolation will feel a strong influence here and it’s truly fantastic.
Sound plays a crucial role in The Bunker, both as a harrowing signal of danger and a helpful tool for survival. Every growl, rumbling, and creaking of the walls serves as a warning that danger is lurking nearby. The tension builds as you cautiously navigate through the darkness, never knowing when the creature might strike. It took a while to catch my first glimpse of the monster, and the fleeting sight before it swiftly killed me left me shaken with fright.
Strategic Survival and Resource Management
The Bunker is structured around a safe room and a generator, which act as the central hub and starting point for your perilous trips into the depths of the concrete complex. Powering the generator with fuel keeps the monster at bay, but fuel is a precious resource that burns quickly. Scouring the bunker for fuel cans becomes a desperate race against time, as a stopwatch constantly reminds you of how long the lights will stay on. This mechanic injects a constant sense of urgency and anxiety into your decision-making process.
The bunker itself is a sprawling maze of subterranean areas, plagued by rats and tripwires. Memorizing layouts and gathering information from dog tags and soldier notes becomes essential for navigating through each trip. I learned the hard way that abandoning expeditions halfway through wasn’t always the best choice, as wasting fuel cans meant traveling farther to find more, risking being left in complete darkness.
Balancing Inventory and Stealth
Surviving in The Bunker requires careful inventory management. Your limited space forces you to make tough decisions about which items to bring and what to leave behind. While essential tools like the stopwatch can be stored in the safe room stash, sacrificing inventory space for valuable crafting materials or progression-related tools becomes a constant problem.
The game excels in creating tense stealth moments akin to the best in the genre. The slightest noise can mean revealing your position to the powerful creature lurking in the darkness. I found myself cautiously entering rooms, avoiding any unnecessary noise, and using the mechanical flashlight sparingly to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Every action I took, from removing vent covers to shooting off padlocks, had to be weighed against the potential risks and consequences.
A Nonlinear Sandbox of Terror
Frictional Games has crafted a wonderful nonlinear sandbox experience in The Bunker that constantly keeps you learning from your own mistakes and adapting your strategies. The attention to detail in the environment, coupled with the hostile setting, creates an incredibly immersive and terrifying atmosphere. Each mundane action, from avoiding knocking over a bottle to intermittently using the flashlight, adds to the thick ceiling of sound that envelops you as you explore the bunker.
It’ll Stay With You Long After Completion
Amnesia: The Bunker is a testament to Frictional Games’ mastery of the horror genre. The game delivers an intense and immersive experience that keeps you engaged from start to finish. The nonlinear sandbox structure, strategic survival mechanics, and spine-chilling encounters with the monster combine to create a truly unforgettable game.