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Amnesia: The Bunker is stressful horror done the right way

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Amnesia: The Bunker is the latest in a series of horror games from Frictional Games, one that feels a lot like Alien: Isolation with a WW1 theme. Definitely not a game for the faint of heart — like me. Wow, this was a stressful game to play. Note: key provided by Evolve.

The main game, aside from the intro, is set in a mysterious bunker during the first World War. The intro is really just a quick way to show you the controls but it's nicely done and really sets up the rest of the game, before you're told on-screen that you're now on your own and you awaken in The Bunker.

Here, something clearly terrible has happened (aside from the war setting of course), with no one left and the exit blocked your main objective is to get out alive by hopefully finding a way to blow a hole through some rubble. Easier said than done though, because you're being hunted by…something.

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For anyone who has played a game from Frictional Games before, you'll feel right at home. Poor choice of words probably, nothing about The Bunker is even remotely homely. Mechanically it has all the familiar bits like pulling open cabinets, drawers, picking up objects and throwing them, carefully opening doors and peaking around as you panic and run back in and lock the door because you heard a noise. Yup, it's a Frictional Amnesia game that's for sure. There's plenty of tweaks and upgrades they've included here though for The Bunker, with a fair bit more you can experiment with and some destruction to be had too.

Currently, I cannot recommend it on Steam Deck though. While it does perform well with a 40Hz lock with some tweaked settings, it has a rather glaring and immersion breaking graphical glitch with your left hand. Something you see constantly too, with glitches moving all over the hand it's just really off-putting. Your eyes just get drawn to it and it's annoying. Once that is fixed though, it would be an easy recommendation to buy and play there. I'm not entirely clear if it's a Proton bug, a game issue or an AMD GPU driver bug with Mesa but until that's solved, I would wait.

Valve actually gave it a Steam Deck "Playable" rating officially noting this problem and yes, it's playable, but I wouldn't say good enough with such a clear graphical glitch in your face for most of the game. Once I see it's solved, I'll let you know.

For desktop Linux though tested on Fedora KDE 38, at least with NVIDIA and Proton Experimental, the experience has been great. Performance is not an issue at all, apart from some loading bumps when going into specific sections it was an almost entirely silky-smooth 60FPS on max settings. You won't get any more than 60FPS right now either, as the game has a max locked FPS option of 60.

What's interesting here is the generator system. You can light up pretty much the entire bunker with a generator, which quickly becomes your new best friend. The problem is, it's very thirsty and will drink through fuel very quickly. So you need to be resourceful in finding enough fuel to power it up and get what you want done before it craps out on you - again. Especially so as your little wind-up hand-light is pretty rubbish because of course it is. Your torch is also very loud to wind it up because of course it is.

The amount of times my torch ran out while I was in a room trying to figure out what to do, and as I began pulling the wire to power it up only to hear some crawling and growling, and nearly jumped out of my chair I've honestly lost count. The tension and foreboding atmosphere is so thick I could sit and hide inside it. This feeling of dread and panic only increases when you accidentally set off a trap, or catch a glimpse of the creature. On top of that there's minor tremors too, which really keeps that feeling of unease going even in quiet moments.

At one point the creature came at me when I made just a tiny bit too much noise, so I threw a grenade at it and somehow also set off a fire strap behind me and just my luck - the grenade completely missed. I was officially trapped between two horrifying ends. Death number…I don't even know anymore.

Everything about it is tense. Even when going through areas you already know, because you just never know when the noise you make is too much and where this thing will appear from. Certainly doesn't help with the manual save system, because I was often creeping back to it.

I like that you're actually given something resembling an arsenal here, so you're not entirely helpless, just mostly helpless. You have a gun, although ammo is limited and it won't kill the creature, only delay your probable demise. You have grenades, fuel that you can do some interesting things with, meat to try and get its attention and more. Death isn't the end here too, as long as you have a good recent save, just a setback on your path to freedom. The key is to be a quiet as possible, that gun and anything else noisy is a last resort.

One thing I ended up doing is constantly barricading myself into a room I wanted to search — and covering up any holes. Just for that tiny extra peace of mind that it might have a little bit of a struggle to get to me, giving me a chance to get away. This is another part of what I love about Frictional and their physics and what makes The Bunker interesting, that you can move around various objects (and often you need to) as well using objects combined together or thrown around to break stuff to help you get somewhere.

As you go through it, you'll find all sorts of notes and photographs to collect. This is where you will gradually piece together the events leading up to where you are now. I won't go into all the details of course, because spoilers, but it's pretty easy to understand about digging big tunnels and unearthing something horrible. While the setting, theme and visuals are all quite fantastic and no complaints there, this game isn't really about the story at all it's the journey and how many different ways you can die trying to escape.

A little shot I like to call "nope".

I really can't see a reason not to suggest you pick it up if you're after a new horror experience on desktop. This is where I spent 99% of my time with it and there it really was an experience I won't be forgetting any time soon. The constant panic I felt, as I walked through dimly lit and often completely dark corridors in a very claustrophobic environment — yeah, that's going to stick with me. For Steam Deck, sit on it until the graphical glitch is solved.

I played most of it with bright sunlight (aside from replaying for some screenshots here), and it was still terrifying me and making me jump constantly. I'm not built for these types of games but I still somehow enjoy them. Apparently I just enjoy inflicting emotional pain on myself and if you do too then go grab it. For the absolute best experience put on some headphones, and dim the lights.

Once again Frictional have proven they know how to do horror.

You can buy it from Humble Store and Steam.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Raaben Jun 6, 2023
Not only did they quietly drop native releases after 15 years of great support, they outright ignored direct inquiries from me and others several times since the game's original announcement. Frictional has lost alot of my respect from that alone; went from a day one buy as all their games for me since Penumbra to maybe waiting for bargain bin sale.
Grogan Jun 6, 2023
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Can an amdgpu user confirm that this game works correctly? (even through Wine/Proton, bad OpenGL programming is bad OpenGL programming). I've not had problems with other titles, like Dark Descent, Machine for Pigs, and Soma but I don't have confidence, especially seeing as they pulled Linux support for this one.

I'd like to get it, but I sent Amnesia: Rebirth back twice (tried it again years later) because both the Windows and Linux versions were garbage. (corruption, crashing/freezing... exact same behaviour)

I don't want to waste my time... putzing around with a bad game is a buzz kill.
JebOnGaia Jun 7, 2023
@Grogan Just confirmed that the game works with an AMD GPU using Mesa 23.1 and GE Proton 8. I only played a few minutes, but the game ran without any issues or glitches.
Grogan Jun 7, 2023
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@JebOnGaia Thanks, I bought it based on that and indeed, it seems to be working well. I'm not sure what the Hell I'm supposed to be doing in a trench, but it's working well :-)

@headless_cyborg Yes, I haven't exactly put them on my christmas card list for this either. But I like trippy games,

The first thing I said when I heard about Steam adding their Proton to the client was "This isn't going to help encourage more Linux ports". But oh well.
Ardje Jun 7, 2023
Video footage reminds me of Penumbra. Amnesia was already sickening, I mean I felt sick in my stomach from the terror they showed. But Penumbra put you in that terror (not going to spoil).
If anything: play penumbra too. They used to have linux versions. I have no doubt, these days proton works better.
Bumadar Jun 7, 2023
Quoting: RaabenNot only did they quietly drop native releases after 15 years of great support, they outright ignored direct inquiries from me and others several times since the game's original announcement. Frictional has lost alot of my respect from that alone; went from a day one buy as all their games for me since Penumbra to maybe waiting for bargain bin sale.

Although I fully understand you sentiment and I even agree, they always been day one buys for me too I can't really blame them. With Wine/Proton running windows games as good as it does (and the glitch Liam mentioned will probably be fixed) why would a small company (20-25 or so employees) waste resources on making a Linux version that might take 3-4% in sales and maybe 20% resources to make ?

On once side Wine/Proton is a blessing for gaming in Linux on the other side is makes sure native ports will never become mainstream.

as I said I agree with your sentiment but I can't blame them or say they lost my respect.
Raaben Jun 7, 2023
Quoting: Bumadaras I said I agree with your sentiment but I can't blame them or say they lost my respect.

I am more irked by being ignored. A one word "Yes/No/Dunno" is all they needed to say.
Liam Dawe Jun 7, 2023
I'm honestly surprised there's still this minority of people that are so uptight about Native ports.

It's nice to have them when they're properly supported, but Proton has been here getting games working instantly for quite a few years now. Time to just accept it. We're the only platform were a tiny minority of users get their feathers ruffled by what's being used by a game behind the scenes, rather than just caring if the game works. I just want to play games, on Linux (and Steam Deck). I click play and it runs - great.
Raaben Jun 7, 2023
Quoting: Liam DaweI'm honestly surprised there's still this minority of people that are so uptight about Native ports.

I'm sorry for preferring devs getting involved with working in our native ecosystem to help grow and improve it? I'm not all or nothing, I do use Proton all the time. It still feels bad to see devs that were enthusiastic about doing so stop.
Liam Dawe Jun 7, 2023
Just seems weird to me at this point to complain about a developer not doing a port, for reasons already explained a hundred times by now. Plus, I don't see how a port existing actually changes anything for Linux as a platform.

My main point is: this argument and the complaints have been done to death. It's boring and slightly annoying to see this native argument brought up constantly, when the same arguments get repeated by a few - most people don't care, because they just want to play games.

Proton is here, has been for years - and for gamers 99% just want a game to work. You can click play on it right now and it works great.

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 7 June 2023 at 4:57 pm UTC
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