I love horror games. Realms of the Haunting still is one of my favorite computer games ever. I liked Penumbra. And whatsit the really cool HL2 mod where the monsters were black smudges. I even liked the Cthulu game from not that long ago (which alas I never finished b/c it was too scary). I also genuinely appreciate Frictional Games's efforts to push the envelope, to see what can be communicated via a computer game. I further appreciate their understanding that horror is created via anticipation, not denouement.
In Amnesia, I love the idea that if you stay in darkness you lose your sanity. I also like how your eyes adjust once you enter a dark area. And the squishy/creepy sounds are really cool. And that there is no weapon in the game. (Well, there's a plant you can pick up, but it's not of much use.) The pacing is excellent.
I don't like the shakiness, the distorted viewpoints, the various ways the devs came up with to demonstrate that my character is scared. This is because in a horror game I, not my character, should be the one who gets scared. Focusing on my character's reactions seem to be a cheap way to generate reaction, the same way adding "real time" to turn-based games was a cheap way to add tension. (I still insist this is the case, notwithstanding that time obviously has proven that the market disagrees with me about that one.) It's like when you read in a book (or see in a movie) how scared a character is, and he/she still does something stupid like return to that dark room. (Or, as currently might be relevant: like returning to the farm, as Cotton Marcus does in The Last Exorcism.) When a character is more stupid than I am, that's a problem.
Besides. I have been scared in life. Maybe not by an undead ghoul shambling in front of me. But by a gun pointed at my face. By threats at knifepoint. By the devastation of having a child killed in front of me (pardon me for my selfishness in saying thank God not my own). By the death of my only surviving parent when I was a child. By an understanding that I had lost everything in the stock market. Real fears. Not fake, stupid emulated game fears. And not once did I shake or have my viewpoint distorted or lose control of myself physically.
So though I think Amnesia is a wonderful game in many ways, FG should have given us an option to turn off that idiocy. Any argument that the game would be weakened without it only confirms the idea that it's intended to cover up design weaknesses. Which honestly I don't think Amnesia otherwise has.
I can't believe I found this thread looking at our traffic stats...
Anyway! I finished Penumbra: Black Plague a couple of weeks ago (review underway) and while I haven't played Amnesia properly yet I do kind of agree with you. I'm not sure whether the effects are supposed to be linked directly to fear though, at least not the fear that we're familiar with. I'm thinking along the lines of something like Ringu. It's a bit like lens flares when you look at the sun or water droplets landing on your screen; they're forced effects that can sometimes stand between you and the game. My girlfriend found the very subtle screen effects on Amnesia quite nauseating and she wasn't even playing!
Out of interest Ernest, under what conditions would you enjoy the screen effects? Would you be okay with them if they weren't linked to fear or being scared?
I know Frictional Games are aware that some people have issues with this aspect of the game so I'm sure they'll address it in the future whether it be in a different game altogether or a patch. Have you tried disabling some of the effects in the graphics options? I know some of them can be turned off. I really wasn't a fan of ImageTrail.
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