Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
|Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs|
|Developer(s)||The Chinese Room|
|Artist(s)||Wesley Tack (Lead artist)|
|Engine||HPL Engine 2|
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a survival horror video game developed by The Chinese Room and produced and published by Frictional Games. The game is an indirect sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developed and produced by Frictional Games. While set in the same universe as the previous game, it features an entirely new cast of characters and time setting. The game became available to pre-order on 16 August 2013, and was released on 10 September 2013.
The game features several interlocking storylines. Some take place in the past, some in the present, and some are overtly real while some may be imagined. Set in London on New Year's Eve, 1899, the game's protagonist is Oswald Mandus, a wealthy industrialist and butcher. Upon the beginning of the game, he awakens from a fever that has unknowingly lasted for several months, after returning from a "disastrous" expedition to Mexico. Throughout the game, he hears the voices of his sons, Edwin and Enoch, calling for him as they lead him through the different areas of the game.
Mandus receives a call on the telephone from "the Engineer", who tells Mandus that Edwin and Enoch have been trapped far below them, in the "Machine" which Mandus created beneath his house. Even worse, the Machine has been sabotaged, putting his sons in danger. The Engineer tasks Mandus with clearing the floodwaters and bringing the Machine back online, providing ongoing guidance through telephones throughout the facility. Mandus is opposed in this tasks by the Manpigs, deformed swine-like monstrosities that patrol the depths he descends through.
Mandus eventually reactivates the Machine, but the Engineer betrays him, taking control of the Machine and unleashing Manpigs out into the streets of London to round up unsuspecting victims to feed itself with. Mandus regains his memory, recalling the recent past: after returning from Mexico, Mandus was consumed with obsession over a vision of the future from "the egg," hinted to be an Orb, in which both of his children are killed at the Battle of the Somme. Driven mad by the vision, Mandus decided that he could not allow it to come to pass, and he built the Machine to create a godlike being via mass ritual human sacrifice, to save humanity from its own carnage. He then killed Edwin and Enoch himself to spare their fate at the Somme.
Now remembering everything, Mandus vows to finish what he started by destroying the Machine once and for all. Despite the pleas of the Engineer, who believes the world would be better off if the Machine is allowed to consume it, Mandus succeeds in recreating most of the sabotage. He then reaches the inner chamber, in which dwells the Engineer - himself a deranged fragment of Mandus's soul. Mandus sacrifices himself to the Machine, putting an end to both it and the Engineer, and ending the horrors above.
- Oswald Mandus — The main protagonist of the game. A wealthy British industrialist and explorer, Mandus is portrayed as someone who is obsessed with his work and the industry that surrounds it at the turn of the century. Although Oswald Mandus appears to be an Elitist, he seems very generous towards people, and he even helped the poor children at a local orphanage. Mandus began an expedition to Mexico to discover Aztec ruins. Deep within the ruins, Mandus found an Orb, which cracked into two pieces and eventually rendered him unstable. He returns from his expedition in Mexico in the year 1899 after contracting a fever and loses all memory of the events of the last few months. The calls of his children and rumble of great engines draw him deep into the depths under his house to discover what he has done. Mandus is voiced by Toby Longworth.
- Edwin & Enoch — Twin boys who are Mandus' children. Their mother, Lilibeth, died giving birth to them and the two of them were often looked after by a nanny rather than their father, who was too busy with his work. Despite this, Mandus loves them dearly, though part of him blames them for their mother's death. The pair of them are often seen throughout the game in brief glimpses, drawing Mandus further into the darkness where their fate is eventually revealed. Both Edwin & Enoch are voiced by Zak Craig.
- The Professor — An associate and worker for the Ministry, the Professor met with Mandus to discuss his plans for the Machine under the guise of it being a meat processing facility that provided food for the poor populace of London. Led into the darkness under false pretenses, Mandus promptly kills him and likely makes him a victim of the Machine. The Professor is voiced by Mark Roper.
- The Engineer — A fraction of Mandus' soul, implied to have been given a voice and autonomous power by the Egg (similar in description to The Dark Descent's Orb), the Engineer embodies Mandus' madness and wish to prevent his horrible vision of the 20th century to come to pass. Ruthless in his enacting of taking victims, the Engineer is manipulative to Mandus in order to get what he wants. The Engineer is also voiced by Mark Roper.
- The Machine — The titular device, given consciousness by the Engineer. Though its exact function is left to speculation, in-game notes and locations suggest that it was designed to automate mass human sacrifice (based on Aztec human sacrifices) and the creation of the Manpigs. Although the Machine is designed with offices, catwalks, and plenty of small machinery, it seems that the Machine is able to run on its own, requiring the Manpigs for small repairs or menial labours only. The Machine is powered by using the Orb's shards and the heart of Mandus' sons attached to its core.
- Manpigs — The monsters of the game. Serving a similar function to the Servant Grunts and Brutes from The Dark Descent, the Manpigs come in a multitude of forms. They cannot be killed and will often hunt for Mandus ruthlessly when he encounters them. Due to the process of their creation, they cause nearby lights to flicker – including Mandus' lantern – and will be drawn to the light if Mandus looks directly at them. The Manpigs come in three variants: Wretch, Engineer, and Tesla.
- TeslaPigs — These pig-like creatures were experimented with so much Compound X, which caused them to flicker in and out of reality, and are much more powerful than the Manpigs. They act as a sort of mini-boss.
- Failed Experiments — A monster similar to the Kaernk made several appearances in the game, albeit in different origin. It behaves like what the Kaernk did in the first game. The only differences here are that they emit electrical sparks, and are much faster than in their previous appearance. It is implied that this version of Kaernk is a result of early experiments in creating the Tesla Manpigs (note dated August 1, 1899).
The game is a survival horror game played from a first-person perspective. Players explore the environments using a lantern, with diary entries and notes providing information on the lost memory of the title character. Some elements of The Dark Descent have been removed, while new elements have been added. One of the reasons for this is to provide a fresh gameplay experience to veteran players of The Dark Descent. The inventory has been removed, along with the oil and tinderboxes. Most of the puzzles that occur in the game are based on physically interacting with the environment because of this change. The sanity mechanic of the first game has been removed as well, meaning that the darkness and looking at the creatures no longer causes any drawbacks. Health regenerates whenever a player is damaged after a certain period of time.
The game's level design has been touted as "significantly different" from that of The Dark Descent, with larger areas and outdoor environments included. AI was also adjusted to ensure players are unable to predict enemy behavior based on their experiences with the original game. However, the core of the game remains the same as in The Dark Descent, so as not to disappoint fans who want more of what they loved in the original.
In 2010, after the release of The Dark Descent, Frictional Games wanted to further the Amnesia franchise, but had no time for it. Later, they met Dan Pinchbeck of The Chinese Room at GDC Europe 2011, where the plan for the game began to form. It was originally intended by The Chinese Room to be a small mod, but it was expanded to a larger scale project when "the two companies realized what could be achieved with a larger game."
Development for the game began in December 2011 at The Chinese Room, while Frictional Games was producing and publishing the title.
The game was originally set to release before Halloween 2012, but was later delayed to early 2013 due to overwhelming response and to meet the expectations. In February 2013 Frictional Games announced a status update about the game in which they announced they would release the game in Q2 2013.
In late May 2013, Jens Nilsson, the co-founder of Frictional Games, stated in a forum post that: "We know we will not make Q2 (2013), we also know when the game will be ready for launch. We have not set the exact day yet. You can however make good use of the weather outside this summer and look forward to gaming with the piggies as the summer comes to an end." Dan Pinchbeck stated, "Frictional's take is, release it when it's done."
Initially code-named "gameB" by The Chinese Room, the announcement of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was preceded by a viral marketing and alternate reality game campaign that began when Frictional Games updated their website Next Frictional Game, which has prior been used to announce the first installment, in early 2012. The website featured a heavily blurred image, the Amnesia logo and a caption reading "Something is emerging...".
The blurred image was hyperlinked to Google Maps with the search field set as "China". The website was later updated with a slightly less blurred image, and hyperlinked to Google Maps with the search field set as "Boreray." It was updated for a second time, with a non-blurred image (a piece of concept art), redirecting to Google Maps with the search field set as 502 2nd Avenue in Seattle. The three hyperlinks were hints towards The Chinese Room's involvement in the game (a previous game by The Chinese Room, Dear Esther, was set on an Hebridean island like Boreray, and the address in Seattle pointed towards a restaurant named 'The Chinese Room').
Examination of the site's source code led fans to a webpage that resembled a computer console with usable commands and a countdown. After the expiration of the countdown, a message on the page read "A machine for pigs coming fall two thousand twelve." The game was formally announced via video game blog Joystiq.
On 14 June 2012, the first teaser trailer was released on Frictional Games' YouTube channel. It showed various scenes from the game, from industrial settings to more studious rooms. In the final shot, the character wakes up to the sound of an enemy breaking down a door making pig-like grunts and squeals. An unseen creature enters the room, its shadow is cast against the back wall as the player hides under a set of stairs.
On 31 October 2012, to coincide with Halloween, a second trailer was posted on Frictional Games' YouTube channel. Many new features were shown, such as the updated lantern and the new voice for the main character. The trailer also shows the protagonist being confronted by one of the enemies in the game.
Eurogamer gave A Machine for Pigs a score of 7 out of 10, noting that it "will absolutely keep you fed". GameSpot gave the game a score of 8 out of 10, saying that while it's a "captivating adventure", it is also "a very dark and disturbing one that touches on depressing real-world themes and doles out psychological horror along with monsters and gore". Edge magazine wrote that "A Machine For Pigs will prove divisive among fans of Frictional Games' much-lauded original".
Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun noted in his review of A Machine for Pigs that it "is a marvellous, revolting, disturbing sequel to Dark Descent". PC Gamer's T.J. Hafer expressed his opinion that A Machine for Pigs adds to the palette of The Dark Descent's "helplessness to explore the emotion of fear". Hafer also added that the game "will hold your head underwater until you’re about to drown and then bring you back up for air, again and again".
A writer for Game Informer said that The Chinese Room "proves once again that it has wonderful, affecting stories to tell and can create environments that ooze atmosphere", also adding that while having trouble "giving into the scares", it "will still rattle of the faint of heart". He criticized the game however, saying that it is "hard to remain frightened [...] when you feel like the game is pulling punches".
Jim Sterling of Destructoid said that "if you want to be told a vexingly bizarre story presented with a real sense of style, The Chinese Room may have exactly what you want". He also said that "if you're a massive survival horror fan who wants to be made to scream, however, you probably want to stick your snout in someone else's offal".
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