Developer: The Chinese Room
Release Date: 9/10/2013
Also Available On
The Good: Haunting atmosphere, great art style, scary monsters
The Bad: Overly simple puzzles, confusing and nonsensical story, short length, enemy encounters are infrequent, no challenge
Amnesia is probably one of the scariest games ever made. I’m talking about The Dark Descent. It made you fear every sound and corner due to the fact that you couldn’t fight enemies. The atmosphere was so scary and haunting, not to mention the extremely scary monsters. A Machine for Pigs gets picked up by a new developer, The Chinese Room, of Dear Esther fame. While it’s still scary and haunting it doesn’t make you fear every second like the first game did.
Honestly, the story is confusing and makes no sense. It’s a garbled jumbled mess and all I got out of it was that there is a machine that processes pigs for mass consumption in 1899. You play as a man named Mandus who is trying to find his two boys that went down into the depths of this machine. That’s pretty much all I got out of it. What this machine is doing is creating man pigs that are trying to “cleanse” the town of people for the coming 20th century. The ending sucked and the game is overall just really short and anti climactic.
A lot of features were stripped from The Dark Descent. You no longer use tinderboxes to light areas and you don’t need oil for your lamp. You just run around with a lantern flipping switches and solving extremely basic puzzles. The Dark Descent had you really scratching your head, but A Machine for Pigs doesn’t even try to challenge you. In fact, there aren’t even that many monster encounters. Sure when you reach them they are scary and intense, but the first 2/3 of the game is uneventful. As you get to the last few chapters it’s mostly story and nothing else. The whole feeling of progress from The Dark Descent is absent here which makes no sense. A Machine for Pigs felt more like a barely interactive story than a game.
Towards the end of the game it just feels disjointed and unbalanced. You bounce around from level to level and nothing feels connected. Many times in the beginning I wandered around not knowing where to go or what to do. The game just lacks and guidance or real direction and can’t be felt from the very first level.
That doesn’t mean the game is bad. It’s not nearly as good or memorable as The Dark Descent and should be. The graphics are really dated despite the nice art style that is carried over from The Dark Descent. A Machine for Pigs feels like an average indie horror game with a story that can’t be followed. Fans of the original will be highly disappointed, but new comers should just skip this and play the first game.