Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs review

  • Disturbing narrative that unravels as you play
  • The feeling of being alone
  • The unnerving atmosphere
  • Realizing there’s nothing to be scared of
  • A lantern that destroys any fear you might experience
  • Slow-paced, uneventful gameplay

Part of the reason why Amnesia: The Dark Descent is scary is because it often leaves you feeling vulnerable and lost in a foreboding world. Its twisted narrative, creepy visuals, and disturbing enemies intensify these feelings and turn it into an enjoyable and intriguing journey into darkness. It’s unfortunate, then, that Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs gets rid of some of these scare tactics and leaves you with a diluted experience that’s neither frightening nor as memorable as the first. Since the darkness is never a problem anymore and your threats are almost non-existent, you might wonder if there’s anything to be afraid of at all.

Machine for Pigs follows the hazy journey of a wealthy industrialist named Oswald Mandus, who wakes up suffering from amnesia wondering where his children are. Following in the original’s footsteps, you uncover more about his memories and past actions listening in on conversations he remembers throughout the game and finding diary entries that help build a mysterious backstory. Its plot may seem vague at first, but it slowly comes together towards the game’s conclusion when you realize who Mandus is and what he’s done. What you discover isn’t as shocking as you’d expect--in fact, it’s almost rather predictable--but that doesn’t mean it’s not disturbing.

"Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs...leaves you with a diluted experience that’s neither frightening nor as memorable as the first.

It’s not so much what you see or do that gives you the creeps but rather what you find out about Mandus that might make you stay on guard. Machine for Pigs doesn’t feature gory visuals or flesh-ridden walls like its predecessor, nor does it feature graphic visuals or deceptive illusions. Much of the game’s strength lies in its implied horror that you never see but only read about. You'll be teased into thinking something of substance is just around the corner, but after a couple of hours of slow-pacing, you'll realize nothing is coming. These feelings of suspense and tension build up with each document you read, but they simply plateau and never reach a climax worth remembering.

Besides simply exploring your environments and remembering where you need to go, most of your time will be spent solving puzzles or figuring out how to open the way forward. In addition to the feeling of accomplishment and progress such obstacles give you when you solve them, these simple puzzles also force you to venture into your unknown surroundings for their solution. You’d expect something to happen when you finally manage to start up an old generator; instead, you are treated to nothing even remotely surprising or shocking. Machine for Pigs wastes these opportunities and conditions you to expect the same, uneventful results every time.

"...after a couple of hours of slow-pacing, you'll realize nothing is coming."

While the original uses sanity effects to play with your senses and complement its narrative, A Machine for Pigs does away with these mechanics and makes it almost too easy to never fear the darkness again. Even finding a light source is no longer a problem since you now have a lantern that never burns out. This not only destroys any feelings that being alone in the dark creates, but it also leaves you feeling overpowered and immune to anything the game throws at you--on the rare occasions that it actually does, anyway. The environments may be obscure and mysterious, but because you can shine your light on them whenever you want, they no longer pose a threat and make finishing the game a little too easy.

To make matters worse, A Machine for Pigs doesn’t feature many enemy encounters, nor does it make you feel like your life is at risk during your four-hour journey. When you do run into a deformed pig-monster limping in your surroundings, you simply need to avoid engaging it to stay alive. Mandus is still defenseless, after all, and the most he can do is run and hide. Enemies move at such a slow pace and simply ram into you without doing much damage that you never really feel threatened even when you’re being chased down. These pig-like creatures won’t give you the creeps either, unless, of course, you suffer from swinophobia--and even then, their squealing will make you laugh before it makes you tremble.

"...A Machine for Pigs...makes it almost too easy to never fear the darkness again."

Besides some of the questionable noises you might hear, environmental sound-effects like thunderclaps and creaking doors manage to breathe some life into the spooky interiors. However, they don’t add much to the experience or make you feel like you’re in danger. Some of the game’s voice acting also makes it difficult to care for Mandus or consider him an interesting protagonist. He doesn’t sound believable as a worrisome father looking for children, and even by the end of the game he still lacks personality. When it comes down to it, the use of sound doesn’t do a good job of creating the desired ambiance you'd expect in a survival-horror game.

A Machine for Pigs is ultimately disappointing because you never have to worry about running out of resources or being scared of the dark. What you’re left with is a slow-moving game that lasts a few hours and leaves you feeling cheated and your expectations unfulfilled. Even if you suffer from a fear of the dark, pigs, or the genre in general, don’t expect to be plagued by nightmares after playing it.

This game was reviewed on PC.

More Info

Available Platforms: PC
Published by: Frictional Games
Developed by: thechineseroom
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending



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  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - September 13, 2013 6:34 p.m.

    Having finished this yesterday, I have to agree with this review on most points. Utter, utter disappointment. Besides the first few 'Oh god, what was that' moments in the first hour or so, it really was lackluster. Too much focus was put on a rather unmemorable story, and while it might just be a pet peeve of mine, a lot of the journal text was beyond overblown and cheesy. Too much 'Chinese Room', too little Frictional.
  • SwissCheeseX - September 11, 2013 6:02 a.m.

    I played it yesterday, here's my short review of it: While "Amnesia: The Dark Descent" was actively trying to scare you (jumpscares, etc.), this part almost only "told" you about the horrors that happened there, in LETTERS. And while I was scared the first time seeing an enemy (only his silhouette though), the silhouette was in the end scarier than what I illuminated with my invincible lantern. Also they deal next to no significant damage and then give you 10 seconds head start for you to run away and fully regenerate. REGENERATE. There are also passages where, when you pass, you slam the door shut behind you, even though you were just seen by a pig monster, because it's probably a "safe" room or something. You're not being pursued. This game mechanic is silly and lets you run through the game, since there's infinite light to go around and no sanity whatsoever. My girlfriend and me stopped playing after 2 hours, since it became too boring. As a few people mentioned, yes, you can't expect big scares out of this one. Amnesia: The Dark Descent had the features that are missing here to be really scary and "DANGEROUS" enemy encounters were non-present. You can just run through it, mostly. Next time, I'll just wait for the reviews or read a scary book instead. Also leave health regeneration to Call of Doody!
  • Nazrac - September 11, 2013 1:45 a.m.

    I completely agree with this article, I am a huge fan of horror type games. After playing this I felt bored, finished the game in little less than three hours. As long as you follow the path you don't get any monster scares, all they practically do is shove you off to certain directions. There are some small things in the game if you pay attention like things moving around on their own and you expect it to lead to something, but then goes nowhere, like the stuffed owl by the bear changes walls when you leave the room, is just one example. of things you expect something or someone to jump out and shock you, but nothing does. The story however is great, forget the dialogue, the actual events of the game tell a great story, that will leave you in a state of wonder. So my review in fairness, Horror Value- 4.5 Story- 8 If you don't read the letters shame on you.
  • Dhelio - September 10, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    Just finished the game, and went to see what was the general reception. And, man, I have to agree. *WARNING* There might be some minor spoilers about how to get through the game. Read at your discrection The first Amnesia was a blast for me. I had to quit playing every now and then because I was too scared. But this one...I't just plain. Monsters weren't scary at all, jumpscares aside. And were FAR too easy to dodge. Seriously, I ran past everything, because there were always another way around. It literally throws the challenge off a cliff. Way too easy. At least in "The Dark Descent" you were forced to walk in the dark, sometimes, with cool effects if you were to stay in it for too long. The story is really good, but has to make its way through at least the first half of the game, else it's just too fragmented to grasp anything. There aren't any surprises, for everything is heavily hinted before the revelation. In the end, quite frankly, Outlast scared me more. 6.5/10
  • Sliet - September 10, 2013 5:54 a.m.

  • Redeater - September 10, 2013 3:41 a.m.

    Well, I think I'm about a half hour from the end and can tell anyone who is curious that this review is shit. "you never have to worry about running out of resources or being scared of the dark" I always had a feeling that most GR editors were fucking awful at gaming (Especially when Henry opens his mouth) but this clinches it. This complaint is fucking retarded. I don't know anyone who didn't finish Amnesia with an inventory full of fuel and matches. Looking at most of the comments on the internet this seems to be the general consensus. In short, that fucking game mechanic didn't work for your average user. Don't dock points just because you are fucking terrible at resource management and thought it added to the challenge. The slow pacing is perfect for your first encounter with the pigs. I found it really built up the suspense but I suppose I wasn't in a hurry trying to shit out a review and not caring about taking in the atmosphere. I haven't died yet because I am cautious and take my time avoiding the pigs. This reviewer seems to know a lot about getting attacked by the enemies in this game. Here's a aren't supposed to be getting attacked at all..... That said, this game is at least a 7 or higher (which is what everyone else seems to be giving it). One last thing, can you guys please get your shit together when judging a game as short? Ducktales was great but it was $15 for a game you could beat in an hour. You guys say this game is around 4 hours...... (This isn't the only example, you guys seem to arbitrarily dock games for being short if they don't appeal to you).
  • dino-ljubic - September 9, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    This review is so stupid that my head hurts after reading it.Objectively and without any bias, I call the reviewer an utter moron.
  • Vonter - September 9, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    Does this mean I should just try the original? Is it available on consoles? I haven't play the original but man, shame the sequel isn't as good, especially since it has a cool title. I wonder if it'll have a similar scene to Saw... That was nasty.
  • ObliqueZombie - September 9, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    Seems handing over development reigns to another studio was a bad idea...
  • Redeater - September 9, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww fuck. Literally the first game I ever pre-downloaded off Steam. I was concerned when I first heard the The Chinese Room was the ones developing it. Dear Esther was interesting but didn't fill me with confidence they could do horror. Amnesia was one of the best horror games I have ever played.....looks like I'll just hold out for Amnesia 2.
  • zdruck07 - September 9, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    Hey, don't knock it yet! Reviews have been all over the board, you never know what you'll think of it. (Or at least that's what I'm telling myself, having predownloaded it too...)
  • slimjim441 - September 9, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    That's really disappointing. I guess I'm happy I decided to wait for a steam sale anyway. I might still get it if it goes up for $5 or something. It's a shame, because Penumbra and Amnesia were both really good. But, as was the case with Penumbra, its sequel was surprisingly lackluster, but was followed by the completely new 'Amnesia: The Dark Descent.' Maybe now that Amnesia has its failure follow up, we can expect something new and great from Frictional in the near future.