on Apr 21, 2016
Watching Josh play this sequence confirms my suspicions: The monster is scripted to make a beeline for you when you approach the panel, logic be damned. Even if it’s locked in a room on the other side of the level. And even though it’s supposedly blind, slow-moving, and making tons of noise itself. Yet somehow walking near the panel will cause it to know where you are and magically escape the room and cover the distance.
So then you think, “Since his hearing is so good he can detect me looking at a panel over his own gargling from fifty meters away, maybe I can distract it with sound?” But once again, no. You can toss trash cans and paperweights all over the place and it won’t come to investigate. The only thing that attracts it is approaching the panel.
The game tells you he’s “blind” so you assume it’s all about managing sound. But then the game brazenly breaks that rule. Great. So what ARE the rules? Maybe the game is saying I need to deal with the monster before I can repair the panel? Maybe I’m supposed to stay in place but STOP working on the panel when the monster approaches? Maybe I’m supposed to solve this puzzle quickly, before the monster reaches the door?
I want to solve this door puzzle, but instead I end up working on this meta-game puzzle of trying to figure out what the designer is thinking. It’s a safe bet that if the player is thinking about the game designer, then they are no longer immersed in the world and thus aren’t likely to be very scared. The fact that the monster hangs out for a good minute or so and prevents you from making any progress makes it pretty likely that this whole section will turn fear into frustration.
This game has some moments that are, if not scary, then at least chilling or disturbing. But all of them happen when the actual “dangerous” monsters piss off and you’re able to think about the ideas the game is presenting.
On the other hand, running from monsters was a huge part of the cultural appeal of Amnesia. And Amnesia was one of the games that originally launched jumpscare streaming culture as we know it. It’s entirely possible that if it wasn’t for shrill teens screaming into their webcams, then there would be no Five Nights At Freddy’s. No Spooky’s House of Jump Scares. None of the hundreds of jumpscare-based games on Steam designed not to be fun to play, but to act as fodder for the streamers. Amnesia wasn’t the only game to launch this fad, but it was certainly one of the major contributors.
It’s like SOMA is torn between the really interesting Sci-fi the developers wanted to make, and the same old thing they assumed the fans expectedAnd maybe they were right? I dunno. I don’t follow streamers much..