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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mini-Review #1: Amnesia: Justine

This week, I'm doing short reviews of two games, Justine and Slender, both of which I did not finish playing.

Justine is an add-on game for Amnesia: The Dark Descent - if you download a copy now, it'll come with the main game. Justine uses a lot of the same mechanics, but the gameplay is much different. You play as an unnamed woman, trapped in a dungeon, and follow the commands of a woman named Justine as issued from wax-cylinder phonographs left for you to find.

She's really excited about this technology. It's like watching your grandmother discover Twitter. "Check it out, phonograph! LOL #murder #awfulshamblingnightmaremonsters"

Justine, who is not of particularly sound mind, tells you that you have several tests to take that will serve as indicators of your mental state. These "tests" involve several other prisoners she has captured; you must either find a way to exit the area on your own . . . or activate the emergency exit and kill the captive in the process.

The captives, evidently, have a preference.

You can't save the game, and it doesn't save for you; if you die, you die. Justine does lose a little in scare factor compared to Amnesia; there are monsters, but they're less frequent and they don't feel as central. The knowledge that they could blindly chop all your progress into little irrecoverable pieces does a lot to notch your concern about them back up to where it belongs, though. The puzzles themselves are more complicated than Amnesia's; where Amnesia is mostly about snooping around finding obvious bits, Justine involves a little more thinking, a little more putting together of pieces, and yes, a little more trial and error.

I felt that Amnesia provided a more complete experience, though to be fair that might be because I completed it. In the end, the perma-death component of Justine kept me from wanting to finish; I could only carefully solve the first few puzzles before dying on the last one so many times before it began to lose its luster. The completionist part of me really doesn't like that about Justine; if I want to finish it, I feel, I have to play it over and over, playing through experiences I've already had, and after awhile of that the original experience - which was quite nice (that is, terrifying) gets watered down a bit. But when I think of the game as it is presented - a test - I can deal with it more easily. It's not a test I passed, and I didn't get to see the ending, but it was an experience I enjoyed, even if incomplete. It's certainly worth a go if you've already got the original game - and why don't you?

Oh, and my last thoughts on Amnesia  - a reaction video compilation. Quite lovely.  Incredibly spoiler-heavy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTlWBtz62Z0 

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