Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs developer The Chinese Room is keen to create a brand of horror that makes you unwilling to proceed, yet will house intrigue that makes you want to fight through it and push on regardless. It’s this balance off horror states that will make the game quite terrifying, according to creator Dan Pinchbeck.
Speaking with GI.biz, Pinchbeck reflected on the game’s slow-burning sense of sustained horror and the occasional spike when a big fright occurs. “It’s partly looking at that model and realising that the moments of running and hiding are the actual release,” he explained. “They’re the bits where you breathe out. I think that’s where a lot of horror games go wrong. They think that these are the bits where you actually start holding your breath.
“What Dark Descent did so well was understand that actually when you see a monster you’re almost relieved that there actually is something there. I think when you look at it like that you realise that you’re not actually using monsters to scare the player, you’re using them to change gear to enable you to ratchet it back up again.
“When I was an academic I read a book on the philosophy of horror and the difference between horror and terror. Usually, when we’re talking about horror, we’re actually talking about terror, which is just using any means to scare you. Horror is a much slower, much more disturbing thing. What we wanted for the balance of our game is that the player should always be thinking ‘I desperately want to go forwards, but I desperately don’t, too.’ Playing with the balance between those two states is important.”
It sounds like Pinchbeck has really being doing his homework on how to make Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs as terrifying as can be, but he added that the game’s scares aren’t just in place for the sake of making you afraid. Instead, they exist to drive the story onward and funnel your emotions.
Pinchbeck continued, “It’s not just because you’re playing a game that you want to go forwards, you’re drawn in by the story, but with every step you’re going ‘I don’t want to do this’. Not just because there might be a monster around the corner, but because the gradual unfolding of what’s going on is becoming increasing horrible.
“You feel like you don’t actually want to uncover what it all means. I think Lovecraft really got that in his fiction – you read his stories and there’s all this stuff floating around at the edges of the vision and actually you don’t really want to find out for certain. That’s a really powerful place to be, in terms of storytelling.”
What do you make of this particular brand of story-telling, and does it make you more or less intrigued by what A Machine for Pigs has to offer? Let us know below.