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Health represents the player character's physical condition. Getting attacked by Gatherers, Suitors, and Kaernk(s), standing in the red organic substance left by The Shadow, touching (or clicking on) certain objects and hazards and suffering long falls will decrease health. The icon for the player's health status is absent in A Machine for Pigs, but Oswald can still get hurt and die if badly wounded by a Manpig, Failed Experiments, hazards, or taking damage from falling.
Measured in the same way as sanity, health has four levels with colors associated with them and can be seen by bringing up the inventory screen. Listed from highest to lowest states of health:
- All is good. (Green)
- A few cuts and bruises. (Yellow)
- A wound is bleeding quite badly. (Orange)
- Barely conscious. (Red)
Health can be slowly recovered over time when in the "wound is bleeding" and "barely conscious" state, although this will stop at the "few cuts and bruises" state. Laudanum can also be used to increase health much faster than just waiting, as drinking one bottle of laudanum will instantly increase the health by one state. The only way to get to the "all is good" state is to use Laudanum or enter some new areas.
There are many ways to avoid health loss, and other ways where it can't be avoided. For example, there are some small areas the player must go through to make progress, but these areas are covered in The Shadow's red organic substance, making it very hard to pass by without taking damage. Another example is what the player must do to enter the Orb Chamber - they must sacrifice blood to open the way. Touching some hazards over and over may bring the health down to the lowest state, but will never kill the player. An example of this can be seen in Justine when exploring the tunnels above the cells; the player is forced to jump down from the tunnels to the ground below, which usually causes the player to lose some health.
When the player character suffers any form of damage, the screen will give a quick red flash and a bloody decal will appear off-center. If Daniel's or Justine's health is in the "all is good" or "few cuts and bruises", no visual alterations will occur. While in the "wound is bleeding" state, the screen will be slightly darker with a slow-acting noise effect. In the "barely concious" state, the screen will be the same as the previous health state but with a red tint and heavy breathing noises from the character, as well as being unable to sprint. The player's view will bob up and down while in the bottom two health states.
If the health is depleted, the character will fall to the ground and their vision will go suddenly black. In addition, the vision fades to black and the sounds will become slowly disorted and lower in pitch. If death hints are enabled on the game's menu the screen fills with warped-text saying things such as "You have to carry on...", "Watch your step..." or "The Shadow is closing in..." since the text is displaying hints in context to the situation Daniel is in that befell him.
Falling from great heights or into bottomless chasms, and sometimes monsters or cosmic horrors pursing Daniel will cause instant death, regardless of his current health status and frantically trying Laudanum to recover.
After the black-screen message, Daniel will be restored to life with full Sanity, but any consumable-items wasted just before his blunder will not be. He'll usually regain consciousness at the beginning of the room or area where he just died. The manner in how Daniel is "resurrected" depends on what killed him.
If Daniel's own clumsiness was his undoing, like falling off a ledge, he'll often return to the previous spot just before he fell to that untimely death.
Whenever the Kaernk slays Daniel he'll go "back in time" to before it began to chase him. Strangely with the Gatherers Daniel sometimes ends up in a completely different passageway or room in the place he was murdered. This is caused by the fact that the player gets new spawn-points, when they reach new areas. Otherwise they will be spawned in front of the entrance door of the map. On rare occasions, Daniel will come back to life only to be greeted by a frightening hallucination. The brutes and grunts themselves often spawn randomly, sometimes even behind locked doors where they can't reach the young man again.
When The Shadow catches Daniel during an intense chase after escaping the Cells, but before the blocked doorway, it will curiously give him a head-start next time. This gives Daniel the opportunity to clear the debris out of his path before the entity chases him for a second time.
At the end of the game, if Daniel allows Alexander to abuse his stolen Orb or if he misuses it himself to save Agrippa, it's game over. The Shadow devours Daniel and he will not come back to life. These deaths make up three of Amnesia's four possible endings.
Death is final for Justine. When Justine's health depletes depending on the cause she may either be taunted or eaten by a Suitor if either managed to kill her or simply die from a fall or hazard. Nothing is saved and she will not be restored like Daniel. This forces the player to start back from the beginning.
If Oswald happens to die, he will usually respawn close-by, usually at the last quicksave spot or right before the area where the monster was encountered. In the case of Oswald getting killed by the game's equivalent of the Kaernk after a scripted fall into the water, he will either spawn right before the event or up the pursued ladder, depending on how close to the ladder the player managed to get before the death.