On Poetry, Prose, and Videogames

JLawrence Kenny

Maniacal Monday: The Shadow, From Amnesia: The Dark Descent

on August 15, 2011

Winner of the "Scariest Game Ever" Award

Few things are more frightening to the human psyche than darkness, though we truly fear the unknown which lurks inside the darkness rather than the darkness itself. It stands to reason, then, that the most frightening villain of all is one that we cannot see, and that is truly the case for The Shadow from the game “Amnesia: The Dark Descent.” This is, without a doubt, one of the scariest games I have ever played, period, and this is a direct result of the effect of The Shadow on both the character and the player. Why is this villain so terrifying? Read on to find out.

The fleshy residue left behind by The Shadow

While not truly the main villain of the story, The Shadow is the driving force behind the plot. The Shadow is nothing more or less than a presence which follows the protagonist of the story, Daniel, who has stolen a mystical Orb that it guards from an old tomb. It leaves no evidence of its passing other than a fleshy residue, and it doesn’t ever physically interact with the protagonist or the environment. Rather, the main danger that the Shadow poses to the player is that of Daniel’s sanity. No, that’s not a typo; The Shadow can literally cause your character to go insane. You must carefully preserve Daniel’s sanity throughout the game, or he may become temporarily paralyzed from fear. Staying in the light preserves his sanity, but makes him easier to spot by other enemies, that I will detail in a moment, whereas hiding in the darkness can protect you from those enemies, but at the risk of losing your sanity if you remain too long. This chiaroscuro, or juxtaposition of dark and light, is the main strategy of the game; balancing the healing properties of the light with the stealth of the darkness.

Holy crap, that thing is scary-looking!

One of the common misconceptions among casual gamers is that the physical enemies of the game are The Shadow, or agents of The Shadow. However, these enemies, called The Gatherers, are actually malformed zombie-like agents of the main antagonist, Alexander of Brennenburg, whose inhumane experimentations have created these monsters, as well as brought the wrath of The Shadow down upon Daniel. While the true intentions of The Shadow are unknown past the fact that it is the guardian of the Orb that Daniel found, it kills all those who make contact with the possessor of the Orb as it follows in its wake, desperately attempting to reclaim it. In fact, hardly anything is known about the Orb and its powers, even upon completion of the game, other than the fact that it was used in an ancient religion. In a way, this enhances the experience even further, as the game focuses on the unknown and why we fear it.

Go ahead, enter the darkness... If you dare...

There is precious little else to tell about this villain. Its aim is simple, the recovery of the artifact it was tasked to protect for all eternity, and its tactics even more so. While this villain is not truly evil in the common sense of the word, The Shadow definitely ranks at “Crap-Your-Pants-Terrifying” on the Fear-O-Meter. It is honestly quite difficult to explain with words just how terrifying this force is, but you can rest assured that The Shadow will haunt your nightmares for weeks after playing this game. If you want to experience the thrill and horror for yourself, go buy the game yourself, or watch SanCo654 play it on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcmjjXTA00U. For the full experience, turn off all the lights in the room, plug in a good pair of headphones, and pull it up on fullscreen. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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4 responses to “Maniacal Monday: The Shadow, From Amnesia: The Dark Descent

  1. By no means thought of it that way.

  2. DARK DESCENT is about as exciting as watching someone make banana pudding. Filmed in Czechloslovakia, most of the actors and crew’s names end in “v”. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they could at least ACT. Dean Cain, he of Superman fame, bullies his way through the mess, chewing his gum, and wincing after he gets shot in the leg. Scott Wiper who plays his jealous comrade mercifully disappears once he quits, but the movie never says what happens to him. The movie starts off with Cain and Wiper (sounds like a law firm, don’t it?) facing some really nasty guys who are obviously attacking the women in this undersea mining plant. Nothing is ever explained as to why they are doing this, but Cain kills them all but one, a nasty guy who plans revenge. Meanwhile, many of the crew members are committing suicide, and Cain is investigating. (Excited yet?). Of course, it all culminates in a kind of underwater HIGH NOON when the bad guy who promised to come back, does so with two other goons, and chase Cain around the plant for a while. There is nothing exciting about any of this, as the direction is wooden and the acting abysmal.
    Try THE ABYSS or GHOST SHIP or any other undersea film, and you’ll do much better than this waste of celluloid.

    • Hey Michael, next time try actually reading an article before posting a spam comment. I was reviewing a videogame, not a movie. I only allowed this through the spam filter so I could show how stupid this comment is. XD

  3. […] Maniacal Monday: The Shadow, From Amnesia: The Dark Descent (jlawrencekenny.wordpress.com) […]

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