- "Redeem us both Daniel. Descend into the darkness where Alexander waits and murder him."
- ―Daniel's note to self
Daniel is the unseen protagonist of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The player controls him as he progresses throughout Brennenburg Castle. Hence the name, Daniel suffers from amnesia and cannot remember who he is or how he got into Brennenburg Castle, but through his Journal Entries he slowly learns of his past. Daniel is voiced by Richard Topping.
Much of Daniel's past is unknown, but various journal entries do offer some ideas about it. He lived in Mayfair, London, and had a sister named Hazel whom he cared for deeply, but she was stricken with sickness at a young age. Daniel would supposedly read her stories all day when he was not helping out his father. Another possible piece of information is a loading screen in the beginning of the game that involves Daniel being kicked in the stomach as a young boy by his father, while Hazel watches silently in the corner. It is known that his father and a classmate abused him.
The young boy's childhood was also made miserable by Henry Bedloe, a school bully who carried the bitterness of his own abusive mother. Weary of being constantly tormented everywhere he went it seemed Daniel finally gave into peer pressure and confronted Henry, striking him with a rock. It's assumed Daniel's father severely punished him for what he did.
Young Daniel developed nyctophobia, an intense fear of the darkness. This was not because Daniel was literally afraid of the absence of light itself, but because he feared the possibility that he may be trapped forever in the dark with no hope of escape.
Later in life, the young man eventually became an archaeologist, under the employ of the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London. Daniel joined around the time the Museum became involved in its first overseas excavations to expand its growing collection in human history and culture.
Prior to the events of Amnesia, Daniel was one of the members of an archaeological expedition to Algeria. There, the expedition uncovered an ancient tomb. Upon entering it, Daniel was trapped inside by the collapse of the doorway. Having nowhere else to go, he proceeded forward and came upon a mysterious Orb.
After being freed from the tomb an hour later, Daniel was sent back to England against his will to recover by the expedition's leader, Herbert. There, Daniel began to look into the origins of the Orb and he noticed that its pieces changed color and shape. Terrified, Daniel went to Sir William Smith, a geologist, to seek an explanation. He was told about the nature of amorphous solids like glass which eventually collapses in on itself.
A few days later Daniel discovers that his expedition ended in disaster. There were no traces of Herbert and his men except for the man who gave the alarm, who was badly injured and rambled that the camp had been attacked by something terrible. Two nights later, after an intense dream, Daniel manages to assemble the Orb. Daniel visited Professor Herbert's university in order to obtain more information of the Orb. Professor Taylor told him that the Orb was the inspiration for much Roman symbology.
The Orbs had been originally wielded by priests. While leaving, Daniel hears that the geologist, Sir William Smith, was found dead. As Daniel becomes more and more relentless in his pursuit for information, he steals one of Herbert's address books, firing off letters to everyone on the list. Although most letters appear to be dead ends, a reply letter from Alexander of Brennenburg invites Daniel to a castle in Prussia to offer him protection. The letter puts Daniel in even greater distress and he is forced to see a physician, Doctor Tate, because of horrid dreams tormenting his nights.
After three days Daniel finds out that Professor Taylor and Doctor Tate shared the horrific fate of Sir William Smith, the geologist. It became apparent that he was being followed by an unknown force, which had haunted him since the expedition and was the cause of so many restless nights. Scared for his own life and feeling responsible for the deaths of the people who he met, Daniel realized that accepting the baron's mysterious invitation was the only thing he could do. He then travels to Prussia and arrives at Castle Brennenburg.
When Daniel arrives at Castle Brennenburg, he is greeted warmly by Alexander and his servants and is given a room and information. The naive young man is hopelessly seduced by the baron's impressive front, foolishly believing everything he says without question or doubt. When he and Alexander began to talk of the Orb he had in his possession, Daniel told Alexander that he wanted to dispose of it, only to be told by Alexander that if he did so, the unknown force (now known as The Shadow) would kill him anyway. Interested in Alexander's information on the Orb, Daniel began to submit more and more to the baron, who had ulterior motivations of his own for protecting Daniel. Eventually, Daniel was shown around the castle more and more, and Alexander showed him the Inner Sanctum. Alexander told Daniel that the prisoners in the dungeons would be used for various rituals, and to extract Vitae from.
In the Inner Sanctum, Alexander introduced Daniel to the power of the Orb. Daniel was unaware that Alexander was forcing the relic to yield its power unto him rather than perform a "banishing ritual". However, The Shadow manifested in the Sanctum with the two and almost killed both of them, but Alexander quickly covered the Orb with cloth and the ancient horror vanished. The baron claimed that the Shadow would arrive in Brennenburg sooner than he thought, and fearing for his life, Daniel told Alexander that he would do whatever it took to survive. Unwittingly, Daniel played right into the baron's hands.
Alexander began tutoring Daniel in various methods of extracting vitae from prisoners (who are said to be vile and sick men and women, but it is implied some of them are not), claiming that the process would keep the Shadow away from him. Desperate and slowly losing his mind, Daniel took part in gruesome rituals involving torture and murder (some of which involved extreme methods like the Iron Maiden and Brass Bull.) After each round of torture, they would feed the prisoners an Amnesia Drink to make them forget the earlier torture, so that they could be tortured for a greater number of times than if no Drink had been given. This way, the amount of vitae extracted from each prisoner was maximized. But as Brennenburg became devoid of prisoners due to all the rituals, Alexander and his men began kidnapping villagers and children in order to extract more vitae and hold The Shadow off. It soon became apparent the blood wards were not appeasing the Guardian of the Orb. They were failing, and Daniel became more deranged and more desperate as it closed in.
Daniel justified his actions as keeping the world clean, becoming more and more desensitized to killing these "criminals". But the event that made him turn away from the rituals and Alexander was when the baron and his men trapped and kidnapped a family that lived on a dairy farm. The father had been slain by Alexander, and the mother and daughter were being held in the dungeons. But after obtaining a hammer and chisel, the mother managed to chip out a hole in the cell. The daughter escaped through it, but Daniel found out. The mother was killed, and Daniel tracked down the little girl.
Fearful the girl would escape and alert the king's men before the banishing ritual could be completed, he killed the girl remorselessly in the Storagerooms. Almost immediately the sight of her lifeless body crippled his psyche. Even manipulated by Alexander he knew the girl didn't deserve to die and begged for forgiveness, filled with guilt and disgust at his own actions.
Daniel was on the verge of insanity, realizing what he was doing, and what had become of him. Alarmed that the recent event had taken a toll on Daniel's mind, Alexander locked himself in the Inner Sanctum, ready to go through with a ritual that would transport him to another world, a place that was supposedly his "true home." Daniel, now aware that Alexander had him murdering innocents all along, the 'banishing ritual' was a lie, and being abandoned to the approaching Shadow, flew into a rage.
Overcome with anger and hatred, Daniel wrote his final diary entry in which he wished the Shadow had claimed him before ever coming to Brennenburg Castle, at least that way he'd retain the dignity to die as an innocent, an innocence that he had lost. He swore revenge on Alexander, but was still unable to cope with the guilt of the blood rituals. Deciding he couldn't bear to remember, Daniel took an Amnesia Drink. Doing so would destroy his memories and give him a second chance. Leaving a final note to his future self, he instructed the new Daniel to find and kill the baron before the Shadow captured him, and then wiped away his memories by drinking the potion.
The events of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, happen almost immediately afterward.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent Edit
- "Don't forget... some things mustn't be forgotten. The shadow hunting me... I must hurry. My name is Daniel, I live in London at... at... Mayfair... What have I done? This is crazy. Don't forget, don't forget. I must stop him. Focus! My name is... is... I am Daniel."
- ―Daniel, at the very beginning of the game.
When the game starts, Daniel is fumbling with his memories, and wandering blindly through the castle. While the tonic achieves the desired effect and destroys the guilt that crippled him, it doesn't stop there, he struggles to recall where he even lives. As it strips him of his life's memories he starts to regret ever taking the potion. He eventually collapses onto a rug, and is only able to remember one thing - his name. Shivering and confused, Daniel searches through the rooms and picks up a lantern, which he begins to carry with him. As it becomes more apparent that he is not alone in Brennenburg, Daniel finds a note written by himself on a desk that was prepared for him to find;
- 19th of August, 1839.
- I wish I could ask you how much you remember. I don't know if there will be anything left after I consume this drink. Don't be afraid Daniel. I can't tell you why, but know this..I choose to forget. Try to find comfort and strength in that fact. There is a purpose, you are my final effort to put things right. God willing, the name Alexander of Brennenburg still invokes bitter anger in you. If not, this will sound horrible. Go to the Inner Sanctum, find Alexander and kill him. His body is old and weak, and yours, young and strong. He will be no match for you. One last thing. A Shadow is following you. It's a living nightmare, breaking down reality. I have tried everything, and there is no way to fight back. You need to escape it as long as you can. 'Redeem us both Daniel. Descend into the darkness where Alexander waits and murder him.
- Your former self,
Deciding to follow his former self's advice, Daniel begins to travel through Brennenburg. He realises that his former self's warning about a nightmarish force following him was true. This beast, The Shadow manifests and dogs his every footstep. Along the way, he begins to uncover more and more of his past by uncovering parts of his diary and notes left by the denizens of Brennenburg. But as he goes deeper and deeper into Brennenburg, and draws closer to the Inner Sanctum, he finds out that he is truly not alone. Deformed, violent monstrosities known as The Gatherers search for him restlessly, and Daniel must use all of his wit to survive. Various times, Daniel gets past environmental barriers and works with machinery in order to move throughout the castle. But over time, Daniel begins to lose his grip on his sanity, as he starts hallucinating and hearing voices, some of which are from a little girl. At a few points, he hears Alexander communicating with him telepathically, and Alexander asks him if "he has changed his mind."
Eventually, Daniel manages to make it to the Nave , the area around the Inner Sanctum. There, he meets Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa , a famous German occult writer and supposed magician, who Alexander has trapped inside of the husk of a dead body. Agrippa tells Daniel that Alexander is trying to use Daniel's Orb in order to get back to his other world, and if Daniel can get him out of the dead body, he can stop Alexander. When Daniel attempts to access the Inner Sanctum, it is blocked by a supernatural barrier that can only be surpassed with the use of another Orb. In an attempt to get past the Inner Sanctum, Daniel begins to search the Transept and Choir to obtain pieces of another Orb, and to also mix the potion needed.
As Daniel begins to make the items he needs, why he has amnesia finally is revealed to him when he comes upon a dangerous memory; one of the murders he committed. Daniel comes into a room in the Choir Entrance with strange symbols painted on the walls and candles surrounding an altar. Slowly, the memories of the room come into him, and Daniel remembers having a prisoner gagged and tied down to the altar. Lines were painted onto the man's chest and arms, and a jagged knife was produced. In order to ward The Shadow off and extract the vitae, Daniel slowly cut open the man, using the lines painted onto him as a guide for where to cut. As the hallucination ends, Alexander communicates with him telepathically, and starts to taunt him, saying that Daniel is blaming him for all of the murders and tortures that Daniel himself committed. Pushing on now, with all of the guilt having returned to him, Daniel finds the pieces needed to assemble the Orb and may or may not have concocted the potion.
Daniel returns to the Chancel, hoping to get past the portal, but he is attacked by three Gatherers and is knocked out. He wakes up in a jail cell, and Alexander begins to taunt him, saying that Daniel drank an amnesia tonic in order to forget of his own sins. The baron tells Daniel to stay in the cell; The Shadow will kill him and will be held off, Alexander will travel through the portal, and their work will be complete. The player can actually have Daniel do this. The troubled archaeologist will stay in his cell, and The Shadow will kill him. But if the player fights on, Daniel will escape from the cell and carry on through.
If the player had Daniel escape from the dungeon, a tense pursuit between them and the Shadow commences. When Daniel makes it back to the Nave finds most of the area around the Chancel has completely collapsed. Agrippa will still be alive though, and he tells Daniel that he must finish concocting the potion. After doing so, Daniel feeds Agrippa the tonic, and then uses a bone-saw to cut the head off of Agrippa, so that he will be able to move around with him. Making his way past the ruined Chancel, Daniel arrives in the Inner Sanctum.
In the Inner Sanctum, Daniel finds Alexander floating naked in midair, shining blue. Surrounding the baron are three pillars with streams of supernatural energy flowing into what will be the portal. Alexander rants to Daniel about how now he will finally be able to return "home." From here, the story can end in three different ways.
Daniel decides to take revenge, and knocks over the three pillars connecting to the portal, ruining the ritual. The Shadow overtakes the Orb Chamber but spares the young man, leaving him unharmed. Appeased that he's atoned for his earlier actions. Alexander however screams and is devoured. The Shadow has no more influence over the young man due to his redeeming actions. Daniel is allowed to safely leave Brennenburg forever with a guilt-free conscience. The young man knows he can't deny the terrible acts he's committed but knows he paid his "tribute" to the fallen. He avenged the innocent and his former self as he walks into the light of day. We hear Daniel walk though the main gate (leaving the grounds), the castle then crumbles behind him and he walks away (most likely caused by The Shadow as it resides from the castle). Most fans consider this the best ending due to him leaving alive and making up for his past as he originally set out to do.
If Daniel does nothing at first, the portal opens up and Alexander floats towards it, leaving Daniel to face The Shadow alone. If the player uses Agrippa's head on the portal, then the ritual will be completed before Alexander can float towards it. This results in both Alexander and Daniel being consumed by The Shadow as it does not forgive him. Daniel's spirit is now trapped in darkness, but in the distance he sees blue lights appearing before him. The voice of Agrippa is heard who seems to be pleading with Johann Weyer to take pity on the man branded by the Guardian. It seems Weyer agrees and Agrippa sounds relieved and ensures Daniel that everything will be alright. The game then ends.
Daniel chooses not to do anything at all, either not having Agrippa's head or simply deciding not to use it. As Alexander enters the portal, The Shadow slowly overtakes the chamber, furious with the young man for letting the baron use the orb to escape. It taunts him with the memories of those he tortured and killed. Daniel screams knowing all is lost. It then consumes him, killing him. Daniel's body is devoured and his worst fear is finally realized as The Shadow sucks his conscious into absolute darkness that he cannot escape from. In the void, Daniel hears Alexander thanking him, saying that his 'sacrifice' will never be forgotten and he'll be celebrated forever.
Daniel is captured in the Chancel and held captive in one of the Cells. Here, Alexander gives Daniel the option to stay where he is and let The Shadow consume him there so that Alexander can finish his ritual uninterrupted. Should Daniel remain in the cell and wait for The Shadow to consume him, the events will be similar to the previous choice, where The Shadow taunts Daniel with the voices of people he tortured before finally consuming him, Alexander completing his ritual and returning to his world, then thanking Daniel and telling him that he'll be celebrated forever. This is the only ending where Daniel does not reach Alexander's chamber and meet him face to face.
Although Daniel does not appear in this expansion, an unopened letter written by him can be found. It reveals Daniel's expedition and the Orb discovery.
- The place of his residence Mayfair, London was mentioned in the game Penumbra: Overture which was also developed by Frictional Games.
- Daniel's sister Hazel was stricken with an illness at a young age.
- In some ways, Daniel's name is referenced with a man of the same name in the Book of Daniel, a book in the Hebrew bible. This becomes more obvious when Daniel first meets Agrippa, as Agrippa will say, "Daniel? Like the prophet thrown into the lions den?" and "So Babylon shall fall you say." Another possible reference is the mere fact that fact Daniel and Alexander of Brennenburg were once friends, hinting to a point in history where Alexander the Great, a king in Greek history, took interest in the Book of Daniel.
- The in-game model of Daniel consists of just an arm.
- It is possible that Daniel's nyctophobia is the reason that he loses sanity while hiding in the dark.
- Although his intuition was strong beforehand, Daniel was somehow changed by the Orb he found and, by touching it, he invoked the powers within. His intuition soared after doing so. While not psychic, he will nevertheless often sense an approaching enemy or threat before he encounters it and his vision will distort. Likewise, Daniel is often able to recall "alien memories" in flashbacks that don't belong to him, such as Wilhelm and his men who died long before Daniel was even born. The orb's power also enables Daniel to "see" items of importance necessary to making progress. Items he needs, such as machine parts, tinderboxes and oil containers glow with the same "bluish hue" that the mystical orb itself does.
- Due to the orb's power whenever Daniel experiences a flashback whilst entering a new location the area leading to next, and ultimately the Orb Chamber, always glows with a mysterious red aura. As he approaches the Inner Sanctum it transfigures into the form and blue shimmer of the ancient relic.