Although amnesia is a cliché opening for a story, Amnesia milks the cliché for every ounce of storytelling potential to create an incredibly compelling storytelling experience.
Many gamers view text adventures as anathema to game playing and best left forgotten. From this limited point of view, it's difficult to see how any game could benefit without the focus of graphics. However Amnesia, intentionally or not, benefits by forcing you to conjure your own mental imagery. Instead of giving you something to look at to enhance the game's environment, it helps build the uneasy game mood. For a game that begins where you've lost your memory, uneasiness and unfamiliarity are central to your experience. Furthermore, the text format makes it easier for the game to rely on vision or flashback situations. In a graphical adventure, where you control exactly where your character steps, you might object to suddenly falling over something and having a flashback, but in a text adventure it seems natural.
Amnesia's writing is generally top notch. Whenever you look around, information creates a complete picture of your surroundings without flooding you with so much description that key words are difficult to locate at a glance. Still, there are a few isolated instances where the writing style breaks down and causes certain phrases to seem out of place. Even the game's puzzles are very well designed and consistently logical. Most are real-life problems you would encounter if you lost your memory: getting money for meals and anything else you might need, finding places to sleep...
Unfortunately, Amnesia does have its fair share of instant death puzzles. Going down a seemingly normal staircase instead of up will, through circumstances beyond your control, cause your death. But even in death, Amnesia keeps up its stylistic storytelling, for in some of the death scenarios, you must come up with your real name before the ferryman, Charon, will take you across the river Styx making Amnesia a good example of the text adventure genre taken to the level of an art form that fans of text adventures should try. Amnesia might even change the opinions of gamers who would not normally consider playing a game of this type.
Graphics: This game is text-based.
Sound: This game has no sound.
Enjoyment: Thoroughly captivating world with only a few breaks in a generally excellent writing style. The puzzles are logical, requiring you to use initiative in solving some problems.
Replay Value: Great writing makes it worthwhile to go back and pursue options you didn't try the first time.
You wake up in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan with no clothes and no money, and worse still, you have lost your memory. Who are you?
This Electronic Arts text adventure includes a Street and Subway Map to Manhattan (which is handy since the game has close to 4000 separate locations!) and The X-Street Indexer (a code wheel for finding the nearest cross street when aligning the avenue name with the street address number).
You wake up feeling wonderful. But also strange, in some indefinable way. Slowly, as you are lying there on the cool bedspread, it dawns on you that you have absolutely no idea where you are. A hotel room, by the look of it. But with the curtains drawn. You don't know in what city, or even what country.
Then the question of 'WHERE AM I?' turns into the question of 'WHO AM I?' It's a question without an answer. Your memory is an open book - with blank pages. You have no name, no known address, no memories of friends or relatives, or schools or jobs. You have... AMNESIA.
This is how Thomas M. Disch's text game Amnesia begins: you lying naked on a hotel bed with no memories whatsoever. As you stumble out of bed, your only thought is to discover who and where you are. Your first task will be to make a proper exit from the hotel, not an easy task since you are completely naked. To make things worse, you are being hunted by trained assassins. Why? You don't know. And I will not tell you either. The object of the game is, of course, to discover your own identity, but also to stop the hunt for your life. The plot thickens with every move you make.
The game's interface is very good. Being only text on a black background, it is important that the text is very detailed. And it is. Since I am not the biggest fan of these text-based games (I like to look at a nice landscape and see all the objects in the game), I was surprised to discover that I was completely drawn into the story of the game from the point I stepped out of the bed. The text really describes every scene with pinpoint accuracy, and you will have no problem navigating through the different scenes. Although you will want to save the game from time to time. After all, you are being hunted.
As an extra bonus, the game comes with a very detailed STATUS description. Here you will see what you are carrying in terms of items and money, your health status, where you are, the day and time and finally your score. The latter is a very nice touch to the game as it is divided into three different sub-groups: the detective score, the character score, and the survivor score. These will increase depending on your actions. If you get off the bed at once, you are a survivor, if you look around and try to remember things, you are a detective, and so on. Your total score will be the sum of these three values. These subgroups also indicate that you can play the game from a different angle every time you play it.
To sum it up: A 5+ score and the biggest recommendation I can give. This game will keep you in front of the screen, whether you like text-based games or not!
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