Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a survival horror video game, developed by The Chinese Room and published by Frictional Games and released on the 10th of September 2013. Shipping was at first speculated to be early 2013 but was pushed to a later date due to both the "overwhelming response" and Frictional Games' desire to meet the expectations of the public. It was delayed further due to the increase in game size from 'experimental game' to 'a full-fledged Amnesia game'.
The game is an "indirect sequel" to The Dark Descent set in the same universe, but featuring different characters at a later period in time.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a survival horror game involving stealth elements and psychological scares. It uses the same engine as The Dark Descent. There are a few jump scares but the game, like others in its class, depends more on the atmosphere, music and pacing. The monster AI and gameplay mechanics in this game differ from that of The Dark Descent.
Unlike The Dark Descent, players no longer have sanity (therefore unaffected by levels of light and witnessing disturbing events), an inventory system, the ability to collect and combine items, nor a way to monitor health. However, like The Dark Descent, players are still able to collect and read notes, use a journal as objective reminders, use dark areas to more easily hide from enemies, and move physical objects around. Light still attracts enemies, causing players to resort to strategy and stealth in many areas.
Set in 1899 on New Year's Eve, (60 years after The Dark Descent), the game follows Oswald Mandus, a wealthy industrialist, who has recently returned from a "disastrous" expedition to Mexico, where tragedy struck. Hit by fever, Mandus has frequent dreams about a dark machine until he regains consciousness. Little does he know that months have passed, and upon awakening, he hears his children calling for him to find them.
Mandus wanders out of his bedroom to find his children. During his search, the house shakes, and Mandus hears a machine roar into life beneath his feet. He also receives mysterious telephone calls, which at first are cryptic, but then tell him that his children are trapped in the bowels of the machine, and to rescue them he must repair it.
Heading down into the depths, Mandus slowly regains his memories and encounters the monstrous porcine slaves that patrol the corridors and catwalks. When Mandus finally reactivates the machine, he realizes that he was betrayed; his children had been murdered by him before he slipped into a fever, and the guiding voice was the other half of his soul combined with the machine.
Now fully functional, the machine unleashes an army of pigmen onto London, killing any and all they come across and sending them down to feed the machine's monstrous appetite. Oswald, realizing that he was the one who created the machine, returns underground to destroy it once and for all. The Machine pleads with him to reconsider, as he reveals Oswald murdered his sons after he was shown a vision of their future deaths in World War I. But Oswald realizes he has no right to take the fate of humanity into his own hands, and in his final act of redemption and guilt, he deactivates the Machine. As the year 1900 passes, Mandus and the Machine are both destroyed.
Locations & Chapters
- Mansion 1 - Waking the Doll's House
- Mansion 2 - In Lily's Honour, a Banquet
- Cellar - Against the Rising Waters
- Alley - The Collar, The Neck, The Noose
- Church - Livestock and Bibles
- Factory - And so to The Stoking
- Tunnels - In the Nest of Eggs
- Sewers - This Leaking World
- Bilge - From Tide to Spine
- Reactor - The Children, Dancing
- Engine - Mandus, Saboteur
- Streets - Anything to Save Them
- Pigline - Farming the World
- Tesla 1 - The Veil Lifts, the Bride is Waiting
- Tesla 2 - Mandus Descending amongst The Spirits
- Temple - Enoch, Edwin, Oswald and I
Initially codenamed as "gameB", the announcement of A Machine for Pigs was preceded by a viral marketing and alternate reality game campaign that began when Frictional Games updated their website Next Frictional Game, which had prior been used to announce the first installment, in early 2012. The website featured a heavily blurred image, the Amnesia logo and a caption reading "Something is emerging...".
The blurred image was hyperlinked to "Google Maps" with the search field set as "China". The website was later updated with a slightly less blurred image, and hyperlinked to Google Maps with the search field set as "Boreray". It was updated for a second time, with a non-blurred image (a piece of concept art), redirecting to Google Maps with the search field set as "502 2nd Avenue in Seattle". The three hyperlinks were hints towards The Chinese Room's involvement in the game (a previous game by The Chinese Room, Dear Esther, was set on an Hebridean island like Boreray, and the address in Seattle pointed towards a restaurant named 'The Chinese Room').
Examination of the site's source code led fans to a webpage that resembled a computer console with usable commands and a countdown. After the expiration of the countdown, a message on the page read "A machine for pigs coming fall two thousand twelve." The game was formally announced via video game blog Joystiq.
On June 14, 2012, the first teaser trailer was released on the frictionalgames YouTube channel. It showed various scenes from the game, from industrial settings to more studious rooms. In the final shot, the character wakes up to the sound of an enemy breaking down a door making pig-like grunts and squeals (From either a Wretch or an Engineer). An unseen creature enters the room, its shadow is cast against the back wall as Mandus hides under a set of stairs.
Also unveiled was the website for the game.
On October 31st, 2012, to coincide with Halloween, a second trailer was posted to the frictionalgames YouTube channel. A lot of new features were shown such as the updated lantern, the new voice for the main character and the trailer also shows a lot more scenery, and creepily, the pig slaughterhouse (Later known to be the Factory Tunnels), where Mandus is cornered by the new monster (Wretch) of the game. The monster is visible for a very short period of time and can be heard making bizarre pig/human vocalizations.
The same trailer ends with a short conversation between Mandus and Professor A, which hints to the game's story and to the machine's purpose. In this conversation, the currently unnamed professor says, "My dear Mister Mandus, I admire your vision, I really do, but there are surely not enough pigs in the whole of London to feed the appetite of such a machine," to which Mandus replies, "That all rather depends, Professor, on what one considers to be a pig." As the date of the game's release appears on the screen, a child's voice is heard whispering the word, "Daddy...".
On March 21st, 2013, a new clue was given about the storyline. Whenever the page was loaded, a letter popped up displaying a picture of a street from the industrial times. It told of a message from Missus Tabitha Stepwood, who is implied to head an orphanage, sent to the main character, Oswald Mandus, thanking him for a generous gift of sausages for the starving orphans, and the creation of a programme which would most likely reform child labour. Nonetheless, the last line, which says "...They will, I assure you sir, make the most wonderful additions to your product line", could suggest that these children were being incorporated to The Machine in a way. The full letter reads:
"A Letter of Heartfelt Thanks from Mrs Tabitha Stepwood
My dear Mr Mandus
I take this opportunity to write to you personally with my sincerest and most heartfelt thanks. Your generosity is an inspiration to us all. Last night I sat the head of the table and watched the orphans happily eating, for once, they will not go to sleep hungry. This morning, Alice knocked upon my door, and she had made for you this tussie-mussie of dried flowers, which I enclose.
Please tell the kind sir, she said, that these were the finest sausages a child ever ate. To see a starveling so rosy-cheeked and well-fattened, well, Sir, it is a miracle most profound. We are indeed in your debt, Mr Mandus, and I am delighted to say that I have spoken with the Governors and they agree that we can proceed with your programme for child labour reform without hesitation. I hope you will find our children full of promise. They will, I assure you sir, make the most wonderful additions to your product line."
As of April 10th, 2013, the letter was replaced with a short poem accompanied by an image of a wealthy, yet foreboding house (Oswald's Mansion). What appears to be two children seen peering out of the third story window. The poem reads:
"Thus ever when we stumble by
Wet grasses on the knee bent low
Our flowers by thy grave
And weeping, grip the soil below
Andlift our children to the skies
And love for them, and conquer death
With candlelights and tables tipped
We call your spirit back to us
A footfall in the darkened halls
Our twins at play, a lover's laugh"
By May 6th, 2013, the previous poem (posted on April 10th, 2013) was replaced with yet another poem. The accompanying artwork appears to be the layout of a basement level shaft within a factory's boiler room/area. A small silhouette of a person can be seen standing at the base of the staircase on the left side of the shaft. This teaser was removed on August 2nd, 2013.
The poem followed as such:
"Thrupenny sixpence sparrows and doves
See all the angels a-weeping above
There's no more forgiving, there's no-one to save
For today darling Lily goes into her grave"
On August 2nd, a cutaway picture of a laboratory building was posted. The laboratory looks to contain some sort of Van de Graaff generator, along with several figures in white coats working at lab benches. The following poem accompanied the picture:
"A skin of a shroud, a stump of the bled
Old Lily is flyblown
Old Lily is dead
And dreams of the jungle
Will flood through her head
And light up her head"
As of August 5th, the poems have been removed and the site now features the original backstory on Oswald Mandus, screenshots, and the two trailers.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was given the launch date of September 10th, and became available for pre-order through Steam GOG Desura GameFly Gamer's Gate Mac Game Store and via the Humble Store on their webpage, at a 20% discount of the announced launch price of $20, making it $16 through these pre-order deals. The games full box art was posted to their Facebook page a day later.
On the 24th of August, the game's developers began using third-party sources to generate hype, starting when a popular YouTuber uploaded a brief montage video of himself playing a review copy of the game given to him by the developers for the purpose of promoting the game. The scenes in this video include several images of Mandus' house, including a room with a player piano, one with several stuffed hunting trophies, and a chapel with a dead pig hanging on a crucifix, amongst other scenes.
The video also shows scenes in the basement of the building, where the machine is located, in which the player encounters an unseen man trapped in a tarp-covered slaughterhouse cage who speaks what sounds like Spanish, and the new monster, getting a better view of it than in the trailers, which reveals it to be a pig heavily deformed to look human (or vice versa, as some of the trailers and teasers have hinted), with scars all across its body, mostly nude aside from leather wrapped around its head and limbs, and with pieces of metal protruding out of wounds on its back.
Since then, a few other YouTubers were given early releases by the developers in order to help promote the game. All of these videos show the beginning of the game in actual gameplay showing the Mandus house and leading into the early levels of the basement.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs received mixed to positive reception. IGN gave the game 8.3/10, calling it a "wonderfully unsettling dip into the world of psychological horror", giving praise to the game's atmosphere, environment and "macabre [and] savagely poignant story", while criticizing The Chinese Room's removal of a lot of the mechanics from the first game, as well as the game's simple and dissatisfying puzzles. The game scored 72/100 on Metacritic by the critics, however, the user's reviews were more mixed, holding a 5,7 out of 10.
|Characters (A Machine for Pigs)|
|Main characters||Oswald Mandus • Enoch and Edwin|
|Antagonists||Failed Experiments • Wretch • Engineer • Tesla • The Engineer • The Machine|
|Side characters||Lily Mandus • The Professor • Father Jeremiah|