One of the things that impressed me most about the 2015 horror game Soma is how it managed to be less in-your-face terrifying than its predecessor, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and yet more thematically horrific. It's tough to get into without spoilers, but it's a brilliant bit of bait-and-switch that really showcases how developer Frictional Games has evolved from one game to the other.
It sounds like the studio aims to deliver something similar with its next game, the recently-revealed Amnesia: Rebirth. Videos of players reacting to The Dark Descent's scares made it a YouTube sensation, but creative director Thomas Grip told Gamespot that for the new game, "That doesn't feel like what we wanted to do."
"There are a bunch of things that we thought that people liked with [The Dark Descent] and then there's a bunch of stuff that we felt we could do better and there's a bunch of stuff that we learned from Soma and we also felt like we wanted to put all of that together," Grip said.
In fact, the reaction to The Dark Descent is part of the reason Frictional is taking a different approach to Rebirth. Amnesia was meant to be about the nature of "human evil," but those deeper themes got lost underneath all the screaming in those reaction videos.
"So we wanted to give that another shot," Grip said. "Not the exact same subject matter, but make something where horror is not just on this very short-term time scale of just seeing a monster and being scared, but something that grows over time."
That sounds very Soma-like, and Grip said that Amnesia: Rebirth will take a similar storytelling approaching. "The strongest connection between Rebirth and SOMA is that we try to put players into a persona, into a situation, and we spend a lot of time just convincing them that [they] should take this situation that [they're] in seriously," he said.
"In terms of when the strong impact is going to come, I think that's going to be—similar to Soma—mid-way through the game. That's where [Rebirth] really grabs hold and really shows what it's got."
Amnesia: Rebirth is expected to be out later this year. As it does, Frictional has continued to drop short teasers on its YouTube channel—you can check out the most recent couple of them below.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.