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Review: Amnesia: The Bunker Will Give You Nightmares

Amnesia: The Bunker Review
Screenshot by Siliconera

Fractional Games’ Amnesia: The Bunker is terrifying. There’s no two ways about it–it’s downright frightening. That’s just the way it should be. This is a game designed to scare you, and it does a great job of that. It wastes very little time getting you there too. You’re taught everything you need to know right out of the gate, then thrown directly into the thick of things.

Following a short tutorial-slash-story-lead-in area, you wake up in the titular bunker. It’s dark, it’s quiet, and you just know that something’s not right. A little looking around will net you a flashlight to help you see, a revolver with not a whole lot of bullets, and the knowledge of just what you need to do to get out. But you also encounter a man-killing beast that seems to have made its home in the bunker. It takes your friend, and chances are you’re next. The setup for just what brand of horror this game is going to bring is very quick and plenty creepy.

What really gives Amnesia: The Bunker its sense of creepiness, however, is the ambience. The game is in first-person perspective, so you can only see what’s directly in front of you. It’s also very dark outside of the little bit of light provided by your dynamo flashlight—the noise from which attracts the beast—and the difficult-to-keep-active generator, further limiting your vision. Even the setting itself, a World War I bunker, helps to create a sense of claustrophobia.

Amnesia: The Bunker Flashlight

Screenshot by Siliconera

Then there’s the audio, which is by and large where the game excels. There’s little in the way of a soundtrack, which allows you to really focus on the noises both around you and coming from you. You’ll hear machinery running, the beast moving and even breathing in the walls, and hungry rats feeding on bodies. Your footsteps echo down the hallways, charging the dynamo flashlight risks calling the beast to you, and even just moving objects around creates noise. Sometimes you’ll accidentally step on a piece of wood or bump into a chair, and the sound of it will send your heart rate skyrocketing. At one point shortly after being left to my own devices, I remember hearing the beast snarl from very nearby. The sound of it, mixed with everything else going on around me, spooked me so bad that I immediately closed the game to catch my breath. It’s just that well done. Sure, it’s more or less the type of sound design you’d expect from a horror game, but there’s definitely something to be said about really nailing down the basics and getting them really, really right. They’re the basics for a reason, after all.

The gameplay is another element that doesn’t try to do more than it has to. There are no fancy, over-the-top special mechanics, but there’s no need for them because that’s not the focus. You have controls for all your necessary functions, including a button dedicated to handling your flashlight and ways to peek around corners, and that’s about it. You’re given what you need and nothing more. Admittedly, though, I did find the controls to be a bit clunky and unwieldy. I get that they’re supposed to make you feel immersed, and to an extent they do, but I don’t know that I was ever able to open a door without a bit of a struggle. At times, they felt more frustrating than immersive.

Amnesia: The Bunker Door

Screenshot by Siliconera

The story in Amnesia: The Bunker also leaves something to be desired. It’s not particularly bad or anything, it just feels lacking. It’s told almost entirely through things like notes and photos scattered around the bunker, and through them, you piece together how it got into its current state. Yes, it’s a good and fitting way to tell the story here, but it could stand to be fleshed out a little more. It’s not strictly necessary since the story is very much not a focal point, but given how much this game values immersion, having that extra depth would really help on that front.

Amnesia: The Bunker Note

Screenshot by Siliconera

At its core, Amnesia: The Bunker is a game of trial and error. You will make mistakes, and you will be punished for doing so. But that’s exactly the point, and it’s part of what makes the game as good as it is. Rather than death itself, it’s the anticipation of it that makes you scared. You know the beast is near, and you know it’s coming, but you don’t know exactly when. Inevitably, you’ll make a mistake, which is when the fear really kicks in. You’ll hear it. You’ll feel it in your gut. But you use it as a learning experience. You change up your tactics, explore a little more, and use hope you do better on your next attempt. And all the while, you know that you are very much in danger.

Amnesia: The Bunker exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to terrify you. It isn’t here to be groundbreaking, it isn’t here to flip any scripts, it’s just here to instill fear. And it does an incredible job of that. The stage is set from the second you’re left to your own devices, and it only gets worse as you progress. It’s the kind of game that makes you want to put on a pair of nice headphones and turn off the lights to immerse yourself, then make you regret that decision for all the right reasons. There’s definitely room to improve on certain things, particularly when it comes to the story and controls, but it’s a very solid game that any horror fan should play. If you’re looking for something that’ll scare you, you will absolutely find it here.

Amnesia: The Bunker is available for the PC.

Amnesia: The Bunker


Amnesia: The Bunker mostly sticks to the horror game basics, but it uses those basics to the fullest, creating a massively terrifying game.

Food for Thought
  • The ambience, especially the sound direction, really carries the horror.
  • Some of the controls are hard to get the hang of.
  • For the optimal experience, use headphones and play in a dark room. Thank me later.
    If you want to know more, check out Siliconera's review guide.
    Adam Haffen
    About The Author
    Adam is a staff writer who's been working with words for more than five years now. He started playing video games when he was six years old and is a huge action-adventure and RPG fan. His favorite series include The Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. True to form, he has an endless backlog of books and games that he swears he'll get to one day.