Amnesia: The Bunker is a first-person survival horror sandbox game created by Frictional Games that takes players on a dark descent into a World War I bunker.
You play as Henri Clement, a French soldier who wakes up in the titular setting to find himself wounded and confused after his only exit collapses. Wandering the unlit halls of an abandoned bunker during wartime is unsettling enough, so Henri isn’t thrilled to learn that he’s locked up with a monster that has turned this narrow nightmare into its hunting grounds. It’s looking pretty bleak for Henri, so he’ll need to use his revolver and every tool at his disposal if he wants to see the light of day again.
Frictional has turned the Amnesia formula on its head for The Bunker. The sanity meter and the mostly linear, scripted narrative beats seen in 2020’s Amnesia: Rebirth are gone. Instead, Amnesia: The Bunker is semi-open world, allowing players to experience the story and its gameplay in nearly any order they choose.
You learn the tale of Henri’s comrades almost entirely through notes and files collected in the dark crevasses of the bunker. Piecing together what happened to them, while far from ambitious in its delivery, was just engaging enough to encourage me to seek out their ramblings. The bunker felt lived in, and that’s all it really needed to be.
Despite the formula changes, The Bunker is still an Amnesia game at heart. If anything, the physics-based interactivity might just work better here, as the sandbox gameplay encourages players to get creative by stacking, pushing, examining, and breaking the items in their environment. However, what sets it apart from its predecessors is its resident monster. This howling, clawed creature’s patterns and behaviors can be learned, resulting in a rewarding experience for those who can interpret its growls and movements. I died to this thing quite a bit on Normal difficulty, but I always felt like I was learning as I pushed forward.
Structurally, Amnesia: The Bunker is somewhere between Resident Evil and Alien: Isolation. You’ll juggle scarce resources, avoid an intelligent killer, and do your best to make it to a room where you can save and recoup. It’s here you’ll continuously dump the fuel you’ve collected into a generator to keep the power running. Turning the lights on isn’t a surefire way to keep the creature at bay, but the blanket of comfort it provides makes for some exciting moments as you race to make it back to safety before the fuel runs out.
Along with the freedom to explore is an emphasis on immersive-sim elements. Frictional straight-up tells the player: “If you think something might be possible to do, it probably is.” The sad part is… that’s just not true. Unique tools are required to bypass certain roadblocks like chained doors, so if you attempt to blow open a grate with a frag grenade or shoot chains loose with your revolver, you’ll learn the hard way that you’re only wasting ammo and time.
Still, there were more than a few memorable moments where quick thinking got me out of a sticky situation, and since The Bunker uses procedural generation, I know I’ll enjoy subsequent playthroughs. It’s also worth mentioning that The Bunker is the series’s shortest entry, taking around five-to-six hours to roll credits. That said, the succinct length was intentional and resulted in a satisfying experience instead of a bloated one.
Amnesia’s fear of the unknown remains intact and spine-chilling in The Bunker. Peering through the darkness as I cranked my chainsaw of a dynamo flashlight brought on some of my favorite moments of sheer terror in the last few years. Frictional’s immersive-sim horror game plan doesn’t always pan out, but it’s a strong foundation for a potentially special sequel. For now, The Bunker at least left me appropriately scared and satisfied, and I’ll definitely revisit it.
Amnesia: The Bunker launches June 6 for $24.99 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, and Game Pass for cloud, console, and PC.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Amnesia: The Bunker.