LifeIsXbox’s Amnesia: the Bunker review | Having played the previous Amnesia titles and still counting the original game as one of the most terrifying experiences of my gaming life, I was very excited to see if The Bunker would make me feel the same thrills as before.
As per usual, we’re being chased by a horrifying monster, but this time around we play as a soldier in the midst of World War 1 in a fully stocked bunker, so we have some weaponry available to scare it off, even if it’s never for long.
Frictional games made it their whole identity to make dark horror games like this and you just know they won’t disappoint. That’s a reassuring feeling to have when you’re walking into a game like this, but expect to be crawling by the end of it.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Atmosphere & setting | Amnesia: the Bunker takes place in a… you guessed it: bunker. It’s the middle of World War 1 and you’re being shot at by German soldiers as you try to make your escape. But you only escape one hellhole to land into another: the infirmary of a French bunker in which all the soldiers have perished at the hands of a menacing threat. The monster itself is scary enough, but you’ll hear and feel the impact of explosives from the war raging above, if you do ever make it out, what faith awaits you topside?
- The chase is better than the catch | The monster of the game is aptly called the Stalker. It follows the sound of your footsteps, the trail of your blood, and gives chase the second it hears you running. It’s a thrilling affair and reminded me of the tense cat & mouse game I played with the necromorph in Alien Isolation. You’re constantly on your toes and there is hardly a safe wall to put your back against.
- Scary | Amnesia remains one of the rare few games that actually succeeds to make me a little nervous while playing it, but it’s been since the first game that I was truly terrified. I’ve grown older and can’t really immerse myself enough to fear for my life in games like these, but the scarcity of resources, the disorientation from the maze-like bunker combined with the countless locations the monster can suddenly appear from do make me feel uneasy. If you’re easily spooked, we suggest to wear a brown pants while playing.
- Audio | Amnesia: The Bunker demands to be played with headphones on. The spatial audio will help you locate where the monster is coming from (most of the time). There is no music in the game and everything you do as a player sounds intentionally loud, from spinning up your flashlight to increasing the speed in your step. You’ll be fully self-aware of the slightest noise you make.
- Visuals & feel | It looks great too, but there is something about the style that makes it feel slightly dated. It’s as if I’m playing a more polished version of the original game and I don’t mean this in a bad way. It really feels like objects are present in the room and you can even interact with most of them. The monster looks terrifying with its long claws and there is always just enough light to see where you should be going, but not enough to make out the details.
- Inventory Management | You have several items at your disposal that will help you survive, but they all take up a slot in your inventory and you’ll need to consider what you bring along for each area. It brings a good kind of stress with it, but at the same time it’s just as easy to feel frustrated at discovering a stash with valuable grenades or fuel and not having any room to carry them. You can find a few upgrades along the game that increases the total amount of slots, but you’ll also need to carry around essential tools like a torch, a bolt cutter or a wrench, so don’t expect to get comfortable. Luckily there is a storage box in the central room, which takes some of the pressure off from all that decision-making.
- Random locations | To make each playthrough unique, they randomized some of the items in the game. While key tools will always be in the same location, dog tags that lead to valuable lockers locked with a combination code are never in the same spot. This makes going for 100% a little more annoying because you can’t really tell which possible spawn locations you’ve already checked.
What we Disliked
- Saving | If you’re playing on hard, I pray for your soul. Not only will the monster be much more aggressive and require more firepower to make it back down, you’ll also be limited to a single save location and I foresee a lot of rethreading the same ground, hoping to get more lucky in your next run.
- Getting lost | I don’t get lost easily in real life, but the maze-like structure of the bunker combined with the lack of lighting or visual landmarks kept me running in circles for the first hour. After completing the game, I do have a much better feel for the structure but it requires you to find important letters to discover which location you need to explore next. Despite its open design, the order in which you find key items is more linear and it can be challenging to remember which locations you’ll have to revisit once you have more tools at your disposal. Allowing us to mark the map ourselves or being able to check it at any time would make that a lot easier.
- Bugs | The version I played on Xbox Series X wasn’t without issues. It started off with bad instruction in the tutorial, telling me to use RS (pressing down on right analog) instead of RT (right trigger) to interact with doors. And having tight spaces to crawl through, but with objects in the way that you can’t push aside while crawling. I even encountered some rats that got stuck in the floor and kept making rattling noises.
- Reloading | While it’s cool to manually reload your gun and having to actually look at the number of bullets left in the chamber, having the button to put those bullets in being the same one as firing (RT) made for a few wasted shots. And while the bullets can be counted in the revolver, the same can’t be said for the shotgun. It holds up to 6 slugs, but there is no easy way to check how many you have left.
How long to beat the story | About 4 hours for your first run.
How long to achieve 1000G | ~6-10 hours, depending on how many runs you need to perfect the speedrun + no savefile achievements.
You’ll love this game if you like these | Layers of Fear, Amnesia: the Dark Descent,
Here is a gameplay video of the first hour, in which I get hopelessly lost:
Amnesia: The Bunker digs deep into your fears. From the moment you step foot in the bunker, the immersive atmosphere grips you like a vise, ensuring your heart rate never resurfaces until the final moments.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.