Amnesia: The Bunker – Review

A great step in the right direction for the Amnesia franchise as a whole.

Release Date
June 6, 2023
Frictional Games
Frictional Games
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Reviewed On
Review code provided by
Frictional Games

Frictional Games has always followed a predictable formula when it came to the previous Amnesia titles. Refreshingly, Amnesia: The Bunker breaks the old trends by introducing mechanics that readjusts some of the franchise’s DNA. This makes The Bunker a refreshing new take that this famous survival horror IP may just need.

Amnesia: The Bunker takes place in the trenches of World War I where you play as an amnesiac soldier named Henri Clement stuck in the titular bunker. Waking up to see the bunker completely empty save for himself, Henri finds that he’s stuck with a seemingly invulnerable monster called the Beast that stalks the claustrophobic maze he finds himself in.

The main goal of Amnesia: The Bunker is simply to escape. In direct contrast to previous Amnesia games where you’re tasked to put a stop to some great evil, Henri’s goal is more relatable. He simply seeks to survive against a monster he’s trapped with by immediately getting out of the area. The problem is that the only exit is blocked and he needs to blow it up in order to get outside.

It sounds like a simple premise but how Frictional Games handle it leads to intense situations where you’re trying to pick the best choice on how to go about this. What Amnesia: The Bunker does right is how it gives you the freedom to weigh your options and lets you craft your own solutions. Do you blow open the door with explosives and attract the Beast? Or do you look around for a better way inside? Should you use the fuel tank you found to make a molotov or use it on the generator to buy you more time?

Despite the new mechanics, Amnesia: The Bunker still relies on environmental storytelling and reading notes left behind to tell its story. I can’t say I was too fond of reading notes to put together what exactly was going on. It just wasn’t all that interesting to look through information like you’re doing homework just like in the previous Amnesia games and it hasn’t changed here. You can skip through reading most notes but you’ll risk being kept in the dark.

The main star of the game has to be the titular bunker itself. Not only does it feel like a maze to navigate through but it also feels dangerous. This isn’t just because of the Beast stalking its halls but also because of the numerous booby traps that Henri’s comrades had left behind prior to their demise.

The bunker is open and explorable but has many locked areas that you have to figure out how to open. You can do this at your own pace and go through different areas in any order. Of course, you’re always at risk for every second you step outside of the safe room. You can’t also stay outside to scavenge as much as you can since you have very limited inventory space which are quickly filled up with the necessities.

The dread of waking through the bunker is only made more apparent by the time limit placed on you thanks to the game’s generator. Every second of Amnesia: The Bunker can be felt by the ticking of the watch Henri carries that reminds you of how much time you have left before power runs out. It’s not a game over, but once the generator is out of fuel the Beast is more likely to come outside and hunt you down.

While you’re not completely safe with the generator on, it does allow you to see better which lets you avoid trip wires and jury rigged doors set to explode. Flickering lights powered by the generator are also an indicator that the Beast is roaming. With the generator out of fuel, you can’t tell any of this and have to completely operate in the dark.

The Beast itself is absolute terror inducing. You can hear it moving behind the walls it somehow manages to fit itself into. Get near one of those small holes in the wall, and it may just result in an instant death. This thing is night unstoppable and will track you down especially if you’re injured and making a lot of noise. The AI of the Beast seems pretty simple on paper in that it’s attracted to noise and will come out to hunt if you make too much which is unfortunately inevitable. However the way it’s executed leaves a chill down the spine as you don’t know if the slightest noise you made is enough to make it come out of its hole.

Henri does have his portable flashlight, which needs to be cranked in order to operate. However this generates noise which could attract the Beast to come out. You can use torches once you’ve learned to craft them which is more reliable and silent but it also consumes fuel that could otherwise be used on the generator.

While exploring the bunker, you can find numerous helpful items that will aid you in escaping. Some of these items can be crafted into more useful ones. Others can be used to fight off the Beast. But the most important items that you’re encouraged to look for are tools that let you bypass the many locked areas of the bunker.

Unlike previous Amnesia games, Henri is a soldier and has some capability of fighting back. He even gets access to guns in the game, courtesy of being in a military bunker in an ongoing war. Despite this, the Beast never loses its intimidation and establishes itself as a dangerous threat because no weapon really kills it off for good. A shotgun blast or a grenade will only temporarily halt its advance and will just piss it off even more.

I really loved the fact that there’s flight or fight decision making in Amnesia: The Bunker. I’ve never been a fan of just running away making any horror game feel like a glorified hide-and-seek experience with extra steps. While you can never put down the Beast, it only becomes more horrific when you realize that nothing you do can stop this monster.

The action in the game is purposefully slow. The mere act of reloading your revolver is a time consuming process and ammunition is very rare. So there’s never that risk of the game turning into a shooter with survival horror elements. As a trade off for fighting back, the Beast can kill you in a single hit so once it gets too close it’s pretty much over. The moment the Beast comes out of its hole, hiding is always the best possible solution saving fighting back as a last resort.

Amnesia: The Bunker has a lot of replayability thanks to many aspects of the game being randomized for each playthrough. No two playthroughs will have the same lock combination codes forcing you to look for them again. Most items in the game are also randomized so you’ll have for them all over again.

This makes each playthrough unique and prevents players from just stockpiling on useful items on the get go. You can’t just take note of where each gas canister is and collect them in a new game. You’ll have to put yourself at risk all over again.

Amnesia: The Bunker’s replayability is a much needed feature. Despite the more open and explorable environment, the game is pretty short. An average playthrough won’t take you more than 6 hours to beat. Despite this, I’m hoping that more future Amnesia titles would be more similar to the open-minded survival horror style that the Bunker presents rather than the linearity that started with Dark Descent.

Amnesia: The Bunker is an amazing step forward for the franchise that isn’t afraid to experiment on established mechanics without deviating too much from its DNA. For survival horror fans, even those who aren’t fans of the run-and-hide formula of the previous Amnesia games, the Bunker is a must to experience.

Amnesia: The Bunker – Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Fight or flight decisions are a great addition to Amnesia
The titular bunker feels organic to explore
You're free to come up with your own solutions and experiment
The Beast can be clunky at close quarters
Game can feel a bit too short