Frictional's latest horror game Amnesia: The Bunker is out today, and it is really good. Almost unexpectedly so, to some extent: Frictional has made some of the best horror games, but the Amnesia formula is well over a decade old now (and much older than that, if you count the Penumbra series) and it'd be fair to expect it to be a little stale by this point. But no: We called it "an essential horror game and an inspired next step for the series" in our 93% review.
To celebrate the release of The Bunker, GOG is making one of the older games in the series, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, free until June 9. It's a bit of an oddity in the Amnesia pantheon: The GOG store page describes A Machine for Pigs as "the darkest, most horrific tale ever told in a videogame," but in reality it's easily the least-frightening game in the series. It's "cerebral and spooky," as we said in our glowing 2013 review, but the balls-out terror of The Dark Descent and Rebirth isn't there: Instead of shrieking, murderous grotesqueries lurking in dark corners, it's more of an observational, creeping horror that unfolds through the narrative.
That different approach to the horror experience is due to the fact that A Machine for Pigs is the only game in the series not developed by Frictional: It was made by The Chinese Room, best known as the maker of the seminal walking simulator Dear Esther. There's a lot of the Dear Esther style in Machine for Pigs, and that resulted in mixed reactions from fans: Some liked the novel new approach, while others were disappointed that it was such a departure from the first game. And while Frictional's follow-ups swerved back into more overt horror territory with Soma and Amnesia: Rebirth, The Chinese Room's focus on twisted, slow-burning storytelling can be seen as a distinct influence on both of those games.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that if you're a horror fan, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs may be a little different from what you're used to but it's still well worth your time, and especially so at this price. It's free! And seriously, it's good: Set aside your expectations, immerse yourself in the story, and you won't be disappointed.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is free on GOG until June 9.