Ever since Frictional Games’ Amnesia found its footing back in 2010, the horror-obsessed studio has gradually come into its own as one of the best storytellers in the industry. Given its apt gift of scaring the living daylights out of its patrons, it was only natural that the team followed up with Amnesia: The Bunker, yet another entry in the beloved anthology. Question is, was it enough to outshine Rebirth, or was it a knock in the wrong direction for the established series?
To put it out there — we love nearly every virtual crag and crevice of Amnesia. Excluding a few complex puzzles and what have you, the saga itself is a credit to itself, and quite frankly, a prime example of what makes the world of survival horror the powerhouse that it is. But returning to the original question of which of the latest two entries in the timeline is better — here’s what we think.
What Is Amnesia: Rebirth?
Without a little backstory to flesh out the infrastructure, it’s virtually impossible to convince anyone to up sticks and buy Amnesia: Rebirth (or any game, for that matter) without so much as batting an eyelid. So, for the sake of painting the picture and providing context, we’ll go ahead and break it down. What is Amnesia: Rebirth, and how does it tie in with any of the other chapters, if any at all?
To put you in the picture, Amnesia: Rebirth isn’t associated with Amnesia: The Dark Descent or A Machine for Pigs. On the contrary, it hosts its own original story—a tale that casts its focus on French engineer Tasi, an amnesiac who, after waking from a the wreck of a plane crash in the Algerian desert, is tasked with unraveling the secrets of her past. With little more than an ancient relic known as the Traveler’s Amulet—a talisman that lets her move between the real world and an alien one—Tasi must not only find an escape from the desert, but also the root of the ever-growing mystery pertaining to the relic. Heavy stuff.
Amnesia: Rebirth is all about maintaining that ever-present Fear factor—a feature that, like previous episodes, acts up the more you wallow around in the dark and subject yourself to distressing events. Should you venture too deep into the blackness and exhaust all your options, then it’s essentially game over. There’s no combat, nor are there any boss encounters — only stealth, which, unless used strategically, will send you on a one-way ticket to an early grave. It’s Amnesia 101, and it builds on its previous iterations surprisingly well, all things considered.
What Is Amnesia: The Bunker?
Amnesia: The Bunker spins another original tale, one that transports its players to an entirely different era and setting. Playing as a French soldier in the thick of World War I, you find yourself in a seemingly abandoned bunker—an underground fortress that just so happens to be home to a wandering creature on the prowl for blood. With the entrance caved in and all your comrades either dead or long gone, you must thread together a plan of action, before the generators give in and the bunker goes dark.
The primary objective in Amnesia: The Bunker is to locate the two items needed to excavate the exit: dynamite, and the detonator. But there’s a catch. As it turns out, several puzzles and fetch quests conceal these very items, all the while a viscous beast roams the halls in an attempt to halt your progress. Queue the trial and error montage!
Gameplay-wise, both Rebirth and The Bunker foster a similar blueprint, in the fact that the bulk of it is stealth-oriented. Alone, your tasks mostly involve finding a reliable source of light, and learning how to tiptoe between points of interest while avoiding conflict. This is a traditional Frictional Games formula, and it’s been the series’ go-to concoction ever since The Dark Descent first debuted back in 2010.
The real difference that sets Rebirth and The Bunker apart is its choice of tools; weaponry and the option to engage with your targets is only available in the latter. Armed with a revolver and a set of grenades, there is an opportunity to sabotage the antagonist, whereas Rebirth restricts your choices, and advises you to employ a stealthy approach on most, if not all occasions.
And then there’s Fear, a mechanic that, prior to the release of The Bunker, was one of the series’ core features. This just isn’t an issue to consider in the latest episode, which means you can go gallivanting about with the risk of losing your sanity along the way. Not that you should go searching for trouble, mind you.
As far as story lengths go, The Bunker is considerably shorter than Rebirth, by a solid two or three hours, give or take. That said, if you’re an all-round Amnesia know-it-all, then an average run should take you anywhere from two to three hours.
When all’s said and done, we can all agree that when it comes to survival horror, less is more. Or at least, less of one particular component i.e the forehead-throbbing puzzles, is considered more, if only to refrain from distracting the player from the actual narrative. This is the case with The Bunker—it reduces the prolonged puzzle segments and instead opts for raw, unadulterated survival horror, and it makes the best of what it’s got in the few hours it’s given.
Mechanically, both games are one and the same, more or less. There’s stealth—and a lot of it. The one thing that separates The Bunker from Rebirth is its crafting system and small pinch of combat. That said, neither of these contribute a huge amount to the overall gameplay, so the illusion of it being anything other than an entry in the Amnesia anthology is next to non-existent. And quite frankly, thanks to the capabilities of next-gen hardware, The Bunker is able to not only make full use of these introductory assets, but revamp the old ones to make something slightly more invigorating and immersive.
Anyway, what it all boils down to is the horror—the ability to scare us senseless. In that respect, both entries pack a punch, tenfold. That said, due to the excessive amount of puzzles and drawn-out texts and cutscenes, it’s hard to recommend Rebirth to someone who’s hell bent on playing something a little more A-to-B. If, however, you don’t mind wracking your brain over a slew of puzzles — then sure, Rebirth is a prime choice. For everything else, seek solitude in The Bunker, every time.
So, what’s your take? Do you prefer The Bunker over Rebirth? Let us know your preference over on our socials here.