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Friday, February 18, 2011

Missing: My Balls

(I just noticed that 90% of my headers are status updates on my genitals)

I bought Amnesia: The Dark Descent back in December. Since then, every two weeks, I turn the game on and play for about ten minutes (sometimes fifteen). Maybe I'll walk down a hallway. Investigate a room. I never last very long. After ten-sometimes-fifteen minutes my nerves are shot and I have to step away from the computer.

For two weeks.

Because that's how long it takes for me to forget how scared I am of a video game.

The idea is that if I keep playing the game then eventually I'm going to toughen up and last longer than ten-to-fifteen minutes. Eventually, I'll be able to walk through Castle Brennenburg like a man.

But I just played Amnesia and this time I only lasted about three minutes. I barely got past the load screen.

I don't think I'm ever going to beat this game.

Amnesia is a horror game set in an early 1800's castle where you control a man with no memory of who he is. To survive this game you must solve puzzles while fleeing the nightmares pursuing you. There are no weapons. There's no way to fight back, and if you spend too much time in the dark you go insane.

With most games, because I've played so god-damned many of them, I can break them down and classify their elements. I can say things like:

"This is a safe room."
"The AI follows this path."
"This is what the enemy is capable of."
"I'm playing against a computer in a fabricated, digital reality."

But when I play Amnesia my ability to classify the game as a game breaks down. There is no computer or enemy AI. There are no safe rooms. Even the actual room where I'm playing the game no longer feels like a safe room. At any moment I might have to jump up from the keyboard and run for my life.

And I've never trusted a game so little. When I'm tip-toeing through the dungeons, praying nothing finds me, I'm honestly terrified; but when I enter an area where the music calms down and the atmosphere is brighter, I'm even worse. I get so high-strung, so convinced that something is going to break the peace and jump out at me that even after I turn off my computer I still feel like a nightmare is pursuing me. God save the poor soul who touches my shoulder while I'm playing this game.

I once saw a mis-matched texture error on the mortar-stone and I stared at it for almost two minutes because it helped remind me that I was just playing a game (I also really did not want to leave that room).

Oh God. There he is. Do you see him?
Don't look directly at him. He can tell when you're looking.
No. I'm serious. These things can tell when you're looking at them.
Just fucking run! Run and hide and don't look back because if you look at that thing too long it'll drive you insane.

Is Amnesia the scariest game ever made? For me it certainly is (and for some people it's outright traumatizing).

But for others it's just boring. I handed this game over to my brother, spitting out warnings as if it were the Necronomicon itself, and he played it for about an hour with no reaction at all. He just turned to me and said:

"Eternal Darkness is scarier."

I'm not sure what I said after that. Mostly, I just called him a bunch of names.

My brother also has this annoying talent at solving puzzles in video games, so not once was he slowed down by Amnesia's challenges. Need to find rare ingredients for a potion? Here they are! Operate eldritch machinery without a manual? Child's play!

This talent has a specific requirement, though. I have to first say that the game is really hard before he plays it. If I do that then he's guaranteed to breeze through the hardest parts as if he wrote the fucking strategy guide.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a game my dad would play.

    But uh, that said, I'm always impressed when a game successfully causes this kind of fear.