The developers behind the Amnesia sequel are armed with the scariest tool in horror – restraint.
I shouldn’t have to waste time telling you how terrifying Amnesia: The Dark Descent was. The indie horror title was developed by Frictional Games, but that team has passed the torch to Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room for a sequel scare-fest. Dear Esther was creepy but not really scary in the way Amnesia was, so some have wondered if the new developer has what it takes to live up to the original. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for my underpants), it sounds like the new team knows exactly what it’s doing.
Creative director Dan Pinchbeck says he learned several lessons from Dear Esther that he’ll be applying to Machine for Pigs. “[We learned] to trust in stillness and emptiness as being really powerful design tools, to not panic and think that you have to fill every opportunity with stimulus,” he says. “Horror is really all about anticipation, and inference, and for those to work, you have to create space and time. The core experience design is giving the player just enough to start generating their own fear, then backing off and letting them do the work. You have to understand that there is literally nothing you can show or do that is going to be more frightening than what the player can come up with in their own heads.”
It’s exciting to hear Pinchbeck preach the value of subtlety in a genre that’s recently been replacing well-crafted horror with cheap jump scares. Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is coming for your sanity later this year.