stub Amnesia: The Bunker Review (Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 & PC) — Is It Worth Buying?
Connect with us

Amnesia: The Bunker Review (Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 & PC)

Updated on

The disgruntled shadows of the steampunk-infused Brennenburg Castle have long been clasping at straws, desperate to witness Frictional Games rekindle the lantern illuminating the beloved horror anthology that is Amnesia. The time is nigh, and the newly appointed torchbearer for the IP is none other than a World War I-themed powerhouse known only as The Bunker. At long last, it has arrived on consoles and PC, and it brings with it a selection of gifts that go far beyond cheap thrills, oil flasks, and shreds of parchment paper.

Granted, the universally acclaimed horror saga left little more than a depressingly sour note on the end of my tongue following the hit-and-miss release of 2020’s Amnesia: Rebirth. As a result, I for one lost a fifth of faith in Frictional Games—something that I couldn’t quite come to terms with ever being remotely possible. Needless to say that, when I unearthed the blueprint that would later formulate into Amnesia: The Bunker, I was skeptical—cautious, even, over the fact that it wouldn’t have the power to rediscover the essence that made it the poster child of noughties horror way back in 2010.

In spite of everything, its rich gothic aesthetics and bone-shattering soundboard somehow managed to draw me back to the cobble halls of Brennenburg. And although eras and worlds apart, I still found myself wanting to return to relight the flame beneath Frictional Games’ impenetrable lantern. Question is, was The Bunker really worth striking a match for?

Going Underground

To put you in the picture, Amnesia: The Bunker is set during the height of World War I, and has you playing the part of Henri Clement, a French soldier instructed with locating long-lost friend Augustin Lambert out in the thick of the frontline trenches.

To cut to the chase, in spite of your best efforts to find your brother in arms, you quickly find yourself knocked unconscious, only to wake up in a seemingly deserted war bunker. With little more than a note warning you of a rampageous beast roaming the corridors, you must venture forth and find a way out. Easier said than done, mind you, what with the exit blown to smithereens and the communal generator funneling power to the lights on the fritz. Enter Frictional Games’ signature calling cards.

Amnesia: The Bunker leaves you in a similar fashion to its previous installments — alone, confused, and without so much as a headlamp to illuminate the darkness that radiates before you. The only upside to this is that you’re a soldier, which of course has its perks; a revolver, and a worrying amount of ammunition, for example. But does this mean you’re able to wedge a bullet between your foes and simply stroll out the front door, no questions asked? Not quite, no. Lest we forget that this is Frictional Games at the helm, so even a fully loaded chamber isn’t likely to solve that unholy issue with the beast of the bunker.

Welcome to the Bunker

Anyway, rounding back to the bunker itself; it’s a hollow shell, and one that can be explored at any pace the player chooses. It features a central hub area, as well as a series of dimly lit quarters and crevices, all connected to a generator that requires a constant supply of fuel to function. True to the Frictional Games’ blueprint, players must locate and restock this resource in order to progress deeper into the wards and beyond. It’s within these rooms that The Bunker leaves out clues—stepping stones, if you like, that help to not only flesh out the backstory, but provide you with additional intel on your next objective.

What’s interesting in The Bunker is that, while you are technically alone for the most part, you do still have the power to defend yourself – hallelujah! Unfortunately, ammunition is incredibly scarce, and even the most skilled marksman won’t be able to fend off the atrocities that lay in wait behind the shadows of the underground fortress, simply because, well, you can’t kill anything. Instead, you’re left to make do with what you’ve got in your inventory — a revolver, a few spare bullets, and an old rag that can be fashioned into a bandage. That’s basically it, which means everything else needed to escape the bunker either needs to be located in one of its rooms, or built in the game’s nifty crafting menu.

Room for Two?

Other than having to pick the bones of a forgotten bunker apart, there’s also the case of having to deal with the monster problem — the source of the game’s unsettling atmosphere and endless sense of paranoia that rests over your shoulders the moment you depart the trenches. This is where Frictional Games’ signature assets come into bloom, as developing a world that’s consistently terrifying for all the right reasons is its forte — every time, without fail. And to that end, we can’t fault The Bunker; it’s horrifyingly flawless beyond measure, and bears every right to be labeled a component of a series of such high caliber.

Of course, there is the case of being able to defend yourself this time around. That said, even with a revolver in your palm and a bullet in the chamber, action rarely ever leads to any meaningful consequences. If anything, firing off a round will only conjure a roadblock for your pursuer to fumble over, which means, contrary to popular belief, guns aren’t the saving grace you thought they were. And while it is handy to have something holstered when tiptoeing between life and death scenarios, the simple fact is — the stealthy approach prevails, always.

One Escape, One Hope

The good news is, there are only a few steps to take in order to escape the clutches of the beastly humanoid that roams the bunker, which are as follows: locate the dynamite, and dig out its detonator. The problem here is, neither of the two items are located in a place of convenience, which means you must go beyond the safety of your hub area and wade through a variation of puzzles, locked doors, and rat-infested tunnels — all the while a monster stalks you from the cover of darkness. Great.

In light of the game’s relatively straightforward setup, The Bunker isn’t all that helpful when it comes to pointing you in the right direction. In fact, nine times out of ten, I found myself molding over the same areas multiple times, often clueless as to what I was doing. With little guidance outside of a rather outdated map and a few red circles, admittedly I spent more time hurling bricks at doors than I probably should’ve done. And honestly, when you’re going up against the clock and under the pressure of keeping the generator stocked up on fuel — this wound up being some of the most intense, albeit stressful hours of my gaming career.

Hello Death, My Oldest Friend

There is one thing that lets The Bunker down, which is its sheer lack of save points. Rather tediously, if you get caught in the middle of an objective and lack the spare bullets to temporarily disable the beast, you’re quick to learn that the only thing waiting for you is an immediate game over, and a nudge back to your last save station. That said, with how atmospherically sound the experience was, I couldn’t care less about having to make up for my past mistakes. If anything, I embraced them, knowing full well I’d be treated to another romp through the labyrinth.

Granted, The Bunker could’ve given us a little more of a helping hand between sections. But then, come dawn, when the exit had finally blown to high heaven, I found myself reminiscing over my deepest failures—those moments that put me up against a wall, counting the final bullets in my revolver as the daunting growl of a beast tiptoed closer toward me. It was during these moments that I would shudder with complete and utter pride, “this is Amnesia.”

Amnesia, Reborn

While I can’t exactly argue that Amnesia had started to lose its way in the aftermath of the lukewarm reception boiled from Rebirth, I can say this: something was beginning to linger on the surface. And although I for one could’ve happily romped through Brennenburg and London for weeks on end and never grown tired of its hand-me-down stealth mechanics and structured puzzles—I still would’ve wanted to see a change, if only to reassure the voice inside my head telling me Frictional Games still had an ability to develop original material. And as luck would have it, Amnesia: The Bunker brought just that. It didn’t spin a wheel that was fashioned well over a decade ago — it reinvented it, and yet still managed to retain the IP’s heart and soul.

Granted, The Bunker isn’t the longest game in the world. Matter of fact, it’s three, maybe four hours in total — which puts it in line with Frictional Games’ earlier projects. The good news there, of course, is that such a studio has never elevated the asking price to match ludicrously overpriced half-baked garbage. On the contrary, it sets the benchmark familiarly high, and staples a generously affordable price to it, nuff’ said. And that’s the case with Amnesia: The Bunker — it’s a three-hour roller coaster of emotions for $25, straight up. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not; it’s a horror game, and if anything, it sells itself surprisingly short given the pedigree of the IP.


Frictional Games could’ve gone one of two ways with Amnesia: The Bunker, sure. For what it’s worth, though, opting for the alternate route was perhaps one of the studio’s best decisions, period. And while the premise isn’t the slightest bit revolutionary, it’s the atmosphere that ultimately drives it towards its conclusion. Mechanically, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, which of course bodes well for any OG fan of the series, and everything else, well, let’s just say Frictional Games has a knack for polishing top-tier vessels of entertainment. Question is, with a treasure trove of genuinely terrifying hits under its belt, what more can it possibly do to expand its horizons? Seems to me that, in spite of everything, Amnesia: The Bunker is certainly one to beat. Well played, FG.

Amnesia: The Bunker Review (Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 & PC)

An Unforgettable Episode

Unaware of the consequences, Frictional Games set out to change the face of its award-winning saga—an anthology of horrors that, quite frankly, needed no revisions. Rather surprisingly, The Bunker single-handedly reinvents the wheel, making it not only one of the most ambitious survival horror games of 2023, but one of the best.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.