Revisit the world of Amnesia: The Dark Descent with some spooky mods.
By Ian Coppock
Last night’s indie game potpourri was very refreshing for me. It was a good opportunity to talk about some smaller games that I don’t necessarily have the time or patience to give a full-length review for. While we’re on the subject of small yet enjoyable games, let’s talk about a few mods I picked for my favorite horror game of all time: Amnesia: The Dark Descent!
Aside from a few Half-Life mods, Steam’s mod section is pretty poor. I get nearly all of my mods from a service called Desura. The client is pretty cool; once you’ve downloaded it, it automatically detects any games on your machine for which it has mods, and you can launch them right from the menu. Best of all, these mods are free, so there’s loads of gaming content available for those of us who are a little cash-strapped. Let’s take a look at a few mods I picked at random from Desura’s Amnesia menu.
The House is an hour-long mod focusing on one man’s seriously spooky hangover. Silent protagonist Jacob wakes up after a night of drinking and proceeds to search for his fiance in a haunted manor. The House does a pretty good job of emulating Amnesia‘s monster encounters, though some of the jump scares, like falling shelves, I would consider cheap.
The House experiments a bit more with sound-based horror than the base game. One particularly hair-raising sequence is the deafening cries of dozens of monsters from just beyond your bedroom door. Though the mod’s level design is decent, its writing is atrocious and loaded with spelling errors. The mod builds up to a predictable it’s-all-in-your-head climax about fifty minutes in, but I still found the experience enjoyable overall.
Silent Hallways is actually a mod trio split across three separate downloads. This mod sees you, a bounty hunter, hot on the trail of a man gone missing. Your hunt takes you to a remote mansion in the woods, and I’m sure you can guess how perilously things descend from there. Silent Hallways experiments with Slender-type horror, like things appearing behind you that weren’t there a millisecond ago. Each episode is about 40 minutes long and contains custom sounds and artwork not found in the main game.
Silent Hallways is decently paced, waiting until you’re in pretty deep before you start seeing monsters roaming around. The game’s writing and sound design is, well, sound, but its level design has some flaws. It’s easy to get turned around in mazes of tight corridors, and I hid behind a bookcase in one room only to get stuck and have to load a previous save. Still, Silent Hallways is a good little compilation to get the chills going. Download the first episode and see what you think.
Abomination is a tough mod to talk about, because it’s a mod of absolutes. It does some things extremely well, and others extremely shittily.
Set in 19th-century England, Abomination follows an engineering student named Uli as he attempts to escape his academy, whose students have come down with a nightmarish disease. The labyrinthine hallways and solemn classrooms of Abomination boast some of the best level design I’ve ever seen in a mod. Each room and corridor is minutely detailed with dozens of objects, making the mod feel like a living, rich environment.
Unfortunately, that’s about where the buck stops. Most of Abomination is simply too dark to see anything, even when you have your lantern out. The sound design is ruined by a soundtrack full of guitar solos and helicopter rotors, as if your character suffers Vietnam flashbacks. Uli’s voice acting also sounds like a flamboyantly gay man dismissively reciting a script for a play, which is hilarious when a monster shows up and you hear him scoff “Like, oh no!”
The thing that really kills Abomination is its puzzles. I deleted this mod after a puzzle in which you have to blow up a wall with an ignitable rock. Turns out, the rock is hidden inside the fireplace, and you have to find it, pull it out, and then put it back in to ignite it. Because obviously it wouldn’t have done that by sitting in the fire already.
Through the Portal
Far and away the best mod on this list, Through the Portal is a non-canon continuation of one of Amnesia‘s multiple endings. Basically, main character Daniel ends up stranded in the strange world that his nemesis was trying to return to, and now you have to get back to Earth.
Through the Portal is full of dozens of custom items and environments, giving the mod an alien feel. The modders behind this little game got creative with the sound design and object placement, and attempt to shed some more background on the enigmatic Baron Alexander. Some of the puzzles can be quite difficult, as can the invisible monsters that plod after you, but the production value on this mod is greater than most indie projects you’ll find on Steam. If you’re an Amnesia fan, absolutely pick this one up when you get the chance.
I’m told by several people in the modding community that there are a few other great mods to play. I played and reviewed White Night a few years ago on a different blog, and I’ve heard great things about Obscurity, The Great Work, A Late Night Drink and others. If you want to download some mods, click on this link, and follow the instructions. Desura is a great way to enjoy some quality content at no cost. Just promise me that you won’t download Abomination.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.