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Rebirth is a horror in the desert. Review / Games

Genre Adventure, horror
Publisher Frictional Games
Developer Frictional Games
Minimum Requirements Intel Core i3-4330TE 2.4 GHz / AMD FX-4100 3.6 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, DirectX 11 graphics card and 1 GB memory, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 / AMD Radeon HD 5750, 50 GB hard disk space
Recommended Requirements Intel Core i5-4570 3.2 GHz / AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE 3.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, DirectX 11 graphics card and 2 GB memory, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 / AMD Radeon RX 580
release date October 20, 2020
Age qualification From 18 years old
Platforms PC, PlayStation 4
Official site

Played on PC

Fear is a subjective concept. You can jump in surprise if someone’s creepy face jumps out of the dark. Even scream if the nerves are not the strongest. But, ultimately, you get used to such techniques and already begin to predict where the next “screamer” will fly from. Frictional Games does things differently. Her games are not so much scary as they make her feel uncomfortable. Build up tension, but do not give it an outlet. In the magnificent SOMA, this was also supplemented by morally ambiguous questions that were weighing heavily on the heart. I really wanted Amnesia: Rebirth to, if not surpass, then at least reach the studio’s previous project. Almost succeeded. Almost, but not quite.

In the footsteps of memories

Rebirth is intriguing from the very first frames. Tasi Trianon with her husband Salim and colleagues is flying on a business trip to Algeria. Unfortunately, the heroes are not destined to reach their destination – the plane crashes in the desert, an endless ocean of sand. Tasi wakes up among the rubble … but it is immediately obvious that the catastrophe happened a long time ago, and for some reason the heroine returned to the beginning of the path. I can’t remember anything, and a strange bracelet hangs on my hand. All that remains is to wander in the footsteps of the survivors, fleeing the heat in the shadows of the sand dunes.

Extremely bright intro for horror

Extremely bright intro for horror

The desert is a rare setting, especially for horror movies. Which is strange, because it puts the heroes in extreme conditions. The action takes place in 1937 – a century after the events of The Dark Decent. To understand the plot, it is not at all necessary to go through the first part, although the bridge between them is thrown: Daniel, if you remember, was an archaeologist at some excavations in that very desert near Algeria. This time, we will be allowed to personally visit the ruins and see the remains of a century-old expedition.

The studio’s games have always been distinguished by a strong storytelling, which gradually plunged the hero into the abyss of the Unknown Nightmare. Rebirth follows established traditions. Tasi follows in the footsteps of her group, and each next find is more alarming, and the test is harder. Questions accumulate much faster than answers appear. Mystery is an important part of the atmosphere, because the fear of the unknown is always deeper than the obvious threat.

The first serious test is the dark cave. As in her predecessor, the longer the heroine is in the dark, the faster the stress builds up. Only now, in the event of a nervous breakdown, the game does not end. Instead of rolling back to the last save, we see a fragmentary video of how Tasi rushes wherever they look, and we find ourselves in another part of the location. Sometimes we roll back, and have to do the path again, and sometimes we move on. But psychoses have consequences. With each seizure, a mysterious ailment progresses: it is expressed in physical condition (the skin darkens, veins swell) and slightly blurred vision, but so far it has not been possible to find out whether the girl’s condition affects the final.

A mysterious compass reveals hidden passages to the unknown

A mysterious compass reveals hidden passages to the unknown

In the fight against darkness will help a lantern, which too quickly “eats” rare fuel, and matches. For some reason, Tasi cannot take more than ten pieces with her at a time. And they, by the way, are very useful: they help to light candles, torches and lamps placed around, which create islands of safety. An interesting point: a match burns out the faster the more actively you move. On the one hand, you want to stay longer with at least some kind of lighting, and on the other, get out of the next basement as soon as possible.

⇡ #Focus on what’s important

One of the main features of the first projects of Frictional Games was the maximum possible interactivity of the world. Small objects were allowed to be picked up and turned in their hands. Ten years ago it was still impressive, but now every second “walking simulator” allows it. Another thing is that a rare game uses such interaction for the benefit of the process.

In Amnesia: Rebirth, in the best traditions of Penumbra and The Dark Decent, all puzzles rely on this interactivity in one way or another. There are not many tasks, but each of them is unique – there are no two similar puzzles in the game. Everyday logic allows you to find an elegant way out of various situations. For example, in one of the episodes, you need to detonate a grenade on a corpse next to a door to open a path. It is impossible to remove it safely, but a cord is prudently tied to the check, the length of which is exactly enough to hide from an explosion behind an ancient slab …

Do you remember with what trepidation the heroes of

Do you remember with what trepidation the heroes of “The Fifth Element” looked at the last match? Here and here the same feeling

Tactility in the gameplay immerses you in the story more deeply. Any puzzle does not seem like a far-fetched way to stretch the timing, but its solution is perceived as a natural piece of the story. During the trip, Tasi will visit several remarkable places, unusual for the genre. The most striking, perhaps, is the abandoned fort of the French legionnaires, a piece of which the authors demonstrated in the gameplay trailer. Interesting surroundings keep the tragic history of the platoon, and in the shadows someone’s silhouettes flicker.

Of course, not without monsters. Fortunately, hide and seek is kept to a minimum. Just a few times during the game, you will need to carefully go around the monster and urgently slam the door behind you. Due to their rarity, such encounters provide a powerful adrenaline rush, not irritation. Rebirth constantly keeps you in tension and discomfort. There is a catch behind every turn, but it still isn’t there. And when the player loses vigilance, it’s time to strike a blow to the nervous system.

Only the final section of the game is knocked out of the scheme, which feels somewhat “overstretched”. Here, and stealth becomes a bit too much, and the plot twists, although they dot all the i’s, but they do not hit with such power as in SOMA. The latter, in principle, is difficult to surpass in terms of the power of the main idea. Which doesn’t make Amnesia: Rebirth a bad story. The game perfectly keeps the intrigue, offers a dark story of the fall of a separate civilization and talks about motherhood. It just falls short of the level that the developers set themselves five years ago.

Lovecraftian motives, of course, will not do without

Lovecraftian motives, of course, will not do without

But on the technical side, Rebirth is the pinnacle of progress for developers. Unlike many indie studios using mainstream engines like Unreal Engine and Unity, Frictional Games continues to develop its own technology. It does not impress at all with a photorealistic picture and no longer impresses with interactivity, but allows authors to create well-thought-out and artistically integral worlds. And the desert landscapes are really good.

* * *

For me, SOMA is still the most powerful work of Frictional Games, which in no way diminishes all the merits of Amnesia: Rebirth. The game offers a compelling story, a thick, oppressive atmosphere, and a solid fusion of gameplay and storytelling. The Swedes are still masterfully pumping up tension, but this time they did exactly what was expected of them – no more and no less.

P.S. The Ars Technica channel, which specializes in the intricacies of technology (including gaming), recently released an entertaining video essay by Thomas Grip, creative director of Frictional Games, about the studio’s approach to the horror genre.


  • oppressive gloomy atmosphere does not allow you to relax;
  • strong symbiosis of gameplay and storytelling;
  • rare but memorable encounters with monsters;
  • fascinating story, skillfully sustained intrigue.


  • long final sections;
  • the central idea is not as powerful as in the studio’s previous project.


The picture does not take with advanced technologies, but with a verified style, thoughtful design of the environment and a skillful play of light and shadow.


Sound design works in every way to whip up the atmosphere. The actors skillfully embodied the characters, giving them depth.

Single player game

Unhurried horror, tied to the study of the environment. No screamers, just skillful pressure on the nerves.

Collective game

Not provided.

General impression

Amnesia: Rebirth is hard to play, but at the same time very difficult to break away from the game. This is how it should be when “at the piano” – masters of atmospheric horror.

Rating: 8.5 / 10

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