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Finally, you can get a small taste of the Amnesia: The Dark Descent! We have just put up a demo of the game, that will guide you through a few of the earlier levels in the game. To get it simply go here:
The demo is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Check the site for system requirements and other helpful data.
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Now while you are downloading I would like to discuss some of the thoughts that when into this demo. Creating demos for adventure games is hard, and more so for horror ones, where build-up and foreshadowing is so crucial. In a more action oriented game, the purpose is simply to show of the game’s main mechanics (shooting, matching blocks, etc). However, in an adventure game, there is no such mechanic and it is the more holistic parts, like story, mood, etc, that shapes the experience.
There are other problems besides showing off the game in the best possible way. It is also important to not have too many spoilers, so when starting the full game the player should not know too much. There is of course also the sale angle, you want people to be eager to buy after playing the demo.
It was clear at once that we needed to start from the beginning of the game. The opening is crucial for understanding the game’s story and putting the player in the right mood. The problem is that our opening is quite long. Amnesia is not very action filled from the start and slowly builds up the mood. We felt that it needed to be shorter in the demo, so player could get a grasp of the game quicker. To fix this, we remade the first level a bit, so crucial items and information are found a bit earlier. This shortens the experience, but contains the essence.
Then it was the problem of what to show next. We wanted the demo to contain creature encounters, but as these are too slowly built up in the full game, they did not fit the demo. So after completing the first level, the player is transported about 2 hours into the game, where more stuff happens. It was then possible to let the demo go on from there and then end with a little cliffhanger. This also worked well from a spoiler viewpoint as the maps are more about atmosphere and most events have already been shown in videos.
To further give the demo a good feel of the full game, we made the sanity mechanic be a bit more aggressive. This means that if will be easier to reach an insane state of mind than during normal play. The fear of going insane is a crucial element, so we felt we had to show it off somehow.
I think the demo represent the full game fairly well and contains most of its major features. However, it is still in some sense a hacked-up version of the “real thing” and misses a lot of the atmospheric build-up. There is also no time to show of up any of the story either (except for the initial setup), and we only focused on atmosphere for the demo. I guess this is just the way it is with demos and the same really goes for trailers and any sort of promotional material. The good thing is that if you enjoyed the demo you should like the full game even more!
Hope you all enjoy this vertical slice of nightmare! Only a few days left until the real beast is unleashed!