Dan Pinchbeck of thechineseroom says improved visuals in Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs will make the game a disturbing, unsettling and flat-out horrifying experience.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a big hit for Frictional Games, so it was a bit surprising to learn that the job of making a sequel had been handed to thechineseroom, the studio behind the haunting Dear Esther. On the other hand, Dear Esther is solid proof that thechineseroom knows a thing or two about minimalist approaches to emotional manipulation, which makes it a pretty good candidate for the job.
It's a job the studio is taking seriously, according to Pinchbeck, who told Gamasutra that anything less frightening than the original is a failure. To help make that happen, the studio is putting a big effort into improving the new game's visual fidelity. "With this new game, we want to create a world that is so rich and dramatic and beautiful that the player is constantly torn between wanting to go around the corner to see what's there and not wanting to go around the corner because they're frightened of what's there," he said.
Another priority is to make the world disturbingly believable, even as players explore and dig deeper into it. "With Amnesia, it's not just about a superficial level of fear, it's about feeling that something has burrowed into your head and is just scratching its nails at you," he said. "But you're so hooked. Inside, you're peeling away like bodies from a pile and you just can't stop yourself."
The original Amnesia was much like that; it had its share of monster closet moments but was more effective for the sense of slow-burning horror it imparted over the course of the entire game. The more you learned, the worse it got, which is really quite an achievement for a videogame. If A Machine For Pigs can duplicate that experience or, God forbid, make it worse, I suspect we'll all come to regret it.