‘Amnesia’: The Psychological Toll of Horror

Amnesia, The Dark Descent

This week on horror month at PopMatters I wrote about Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Normally I like to finish a game before I begin writing about it, because often I do an examination of the whole. But with Amnesia I knew the behavior the game instills in its player going in. What I didn’t know is how complete that behavior outside the game can mirror the behavior inside the game.

To properly play a horror game, you have to play it in the dark and alone. Amnesia rewards safety with staying in the dark. After a while the unrelenting creepy atmosphere makes the player take a break. Amnesia punishes if you stay in the dark for too long and you have to return to the light to recover. It’s an interesting cycle that amplifies the horror in the game through play that I found myself mirroring if I wanted to progress.

Once again I am terrible at titles. My editor added the word ‘Psychological’ to it, for clarity’s sake. I probably should have just wrote in the title field ‘make some up’. I’ve done it before. I’ll finish Amnesia before the month is out, but likely wont write more about it on PopMatters as I have other targets in sight.

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