Personal Rating: "Worth playing"
Traditional Rating: 7.5/10
Frictional Games may have not had a hand in developing Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs only simply publishing it with development reigns for this iteration having been handed to Dear Esther development house, The Chinese Room. However, that in no way lessens the experience for the gamer or sullies the franchise as is often the case when outside development houses take over in subsequent sequels. In fact by the time the end credits roll on A Machine for Pigs, The Chinese Room have taken you to a far more menacing and darker psychological place than the original Amnesia could have ever have dreamt up.
My main gripe with the original Amnesia was that, whilst utterly terrifying in its first half, its second half was plodded and padded out with puzzles there simply to exist to lengthen the adventure. When it all began to fall back on the familiar supernatural tropes so often trotted out in horror I was left slightly disappointed. The Chinese Room seem to have understood this perfectly, especially when it comes to horror. By toning down the puzzles (there is no inventory to speak of) you end up not being taken out of the horror every five minutes to solve some mind-bending puzzle as was the case in the first one. By removing the need for oil and the sanity meter they have streamlined the experience further which in the end allows the story to move to the forefront and my-oh-my what a story it is. The Chinese Room also understand perfectly that horror and tension of this sort can only be sustained for short periods. This was my gripe with both the first Amnesia and Outlast in that they should have been shorter in order to sustain the terror they were trying to convey. Brevity is the golden rule in my books when it comes to horror and any horror game outstaying its welcome in length ends up being a diminished experience. A Machine for Pigs comes in at a pert 4-6 hrs (depending on how you play) and that is the perfect length in my books for a horror title.
A Machine for Pigs is set at the end of the Industrial Era (which the game evokes beautifully) and sees you take control of Oswald Mandus awaking to a terrifying personal nightmare. Emerging from a hellish fever dream that involves some kind of infernal industrial machine, he soon realizes that both of his children are missing. Once again, like the first, notes lay sprewn about the game world that give us insight into his back story. Oswald, you see, is the proud owner of a meat processing factory but as the tale descends into its serpentine labyrinth of terror you soon realize that this is a factory where very little governance seems to have been applied when it comes to the kind of meat being processed for consumption.
Whilst slow going to begin with - the second half of the game really literally picks up and moves at a cracking pace which never seems to let up for one single second as it hurtles towards its grim ending. I was initially a bit disappointed with it but as time marched on I found myself more and more invested in this tale of horror than I was with the initial Amnesia. At the end of it all, all I can say was that I was suitably impressed with this title and if The Chinese Room is drafted in at some stage to make another I can't say I will be disappointed.
If you enjoy horror there is no reason you should not enjoy this. Remember this is a more darker, complex (in terms of the tale its trying to tell) and sinister game experience than the first one and if you go in not expecting a rehash of the first game you are bound to be in for a pleasantly spooky surprise.