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Amnesia: Rebirth is an elegant sequel to a horror classic

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When is a society — or a life — past saving? The reassuring answer is never. But Amnesia: Rebirth, the latest game from Swedish studio Frictional, isn’t designed to be reassuring.

Rebirth is a successor to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a 2010 horror classic defined by its shameless jump scares; grotesque monsters; and chilling story about guilt, cruelty, and memory. Frictional has gone back to Amnesia a couple of times. First with a short 2011 add-on called Justine, and again by publishing Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, a separate game developed by The Chinese Room. But Rebirth, which will be released tomorrow, is the first new, full-length game in the series.

Amnesia: Rebirth has an immediately familiar cadence. Like The Dark Descent, it’s a game that torments players by delivering stretches of tense, dread-inducing exploration; frantic chases; and moments of revelation before they’re pushed back into the dark. For me, it was a nine-hour-long cycle of dread, panic, and recovery, a loop so well-honed that it’s all but explicitly referenced in the plot. But Rebirth tweaks the original game’s design and themes in compelling ways.

Rebirth is an oblique sequel to The Dark Descent. It uses the same first-person design and gives players the deliberately awkward point-and-click interface that Frictional has used for over a decade. It also has narrative links to the first game. But it’s set in 1937, several decades after the original, and it’s focused on a different protagonist: Anastasie “Tasi” Trianon, a French draftswoman joining an archaeological expedition to Algeria. After surviving a desert plane crash, Tasi wakes among the wreckage with gaps in her memory, a mysterious amulet around her wrist, and a trail of notes that her husband Sahim has left to mark a path.

Like The Dark Descent, Rebirth sends players to retrace a story that its protagonist has forgotten at least partly to save their own sanity. The game is less lonely and quiet than Frictional’s earlier work, which sent players into almost entirely abandoned worlds. But it’s still an emphatically isolating experience. The setting of Rebirth feels awe-inspiring in a way that The Dark Descent’s setting didn’t allow — not just horrifying or hostile, but grand and strangely beautiful. Its chapters shift between desert sandscapes, underground ruins, and, in one of the game’s rare nods to its period setting, a French colonial outpost.

It also spends a lot of time in a different world altogether, thanks to Tasi’s amulet. Though Amnesia is often described as Lovecraftian, Rebirth owes as much to the eerie, decaying grandeur evoked by Lovecraft’s weird fiction contemporary William Hope Hodgson, author of foundational dying Earth novel The Night Land. It’s a story not about an individual monster — although you’ll meet plenty of them — but about an entire civilization that’s made itself monstrous by accepting pain as the price of normalcy. The game’s story delves into places and concepts that the first game only hinted at, and it mostly makes them creepier than they originally sounded.

Frictional’s last project Soma downplayed puzzles and other mechanical elements, even offering a feature that removed its monsters. Rebirth swings back toward an earlier, more explicitly game-like style. Its puzzles are simpler and a bit more organic than those of the first game, designed to get players poking around the edges of a level trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do. But they still follow recognizable point-and-click adventure conventions. There’s also a version of The Dark Descent’s trademark sanity meter, which drains in darkness and messes with players’ perception when it’s low but can be boosted by lighting candles or using a lantern with limited power.

Amnesia’s horror has always been a complex sleight of hand, as the games evoke a palpable threat of failure without actually stalling or frustrating players too badly. In The Dark Descent, this meant that sanity slippage was ultimately cosmetic — it produced creepy visual effects but, except in a “hardcore mode” that was added after launch, it couldn’t permanently damage you.

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Without revealing too much detail, this is not true in Rebirth. Its oppressive darkness is tangibly dangerous, and rationing matches and oil — a system that felt a little perfunctory in The Dark Descent — is a far more satisfying part of the game. Meanwhile, instead of giving players a game-over screen, Rebirth (sort of) lets you fail forward if you die but at a subtle narrative cost. The whole system is framed around something more original and less reductive than “sanity,” and it’s become more elegant and interesting with the change. There’s even a Death Stranding-esque mechanic that I can’t describe without spoiling a major plot element, but that works surprisingly well.

Rebirth’s story doesn’t require knowing anything about The Dark Descent, and it might actually be more compelling to discover certain elements for the first time. But — to be somewhat vague — the series cleverly recontextualizes its original protagonist’s greatest enemy.

Frictional has a long-standing fascination with humanity’s moral relationship to godlike beings. Its early, deeply underrated Penumbra series is about an ancient civilization (known as the Tuurngait) that prizes extraordinary mercy and collective good, and a man who ultimately chooses to destroy them out of fear. Rebirth inverts the relationship: it’s about discovering powerful, super-intelligent beings with distinctly human motivations for terrible atrocities.

Very little of this, it’s worth noting, has much to do with the game’s historical period or its setting in Algeria. Similar to Penumbra, which used a name from Inuit mythology for a basically unrelated entity, Rebirth nods very lightly to Arabic folklore by way of H.P. Lovecraft. But it’s focused on Tasi’s own personal tragedies and their connection to a strange and ancient world, touching only glancingly on real events like the violence of French colonialism. There’s a game to be made about that kind of horror, but its omission here feels like Frictional understanding where its interests and its limitations lie — and avoiding shallowly exploiting territory that would require a far deeper and more nuanced exploration.

Amnesia: Rebirth doesn’t reinvent horror games the way The Dark Descent does. But it refines one of the genre’s greatest entries into something more awe-inspiring and deftly designed, without abandoning its highest goal: making you shiver as you take your first step down a pitch-black tunnel.

Amnesia: Rebirth launches October 20th on PC and PlayStation 4.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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