After I finished Amnesia: Rebirth I took some time to sit down and write down my thoughts while it was still fresh in my mind. I guess this turned into a game review somewhere down the line. Note that this was written soon after the release, meaning that some information may be outdated due to game patches. Heavy spoilers and some criticism below, proceed with caution. Don’t take the critique wrong, I did still love the game, but we have some things that need to be addressed.
CONTENT WARNINGS: child birth, pregnancy.
I loved, LOVED the connections to TDD and all the notes, shedding light on lore and giving us more information about Alexander and his people, Herbert’s role in all of it (and what he knew), the little tidbits about Daniel… Gosh, the parasol. There was some collective shrieking and cackling about it on our couch when we found the excavation site. And all the stuff about the other worlds, Traveller’s Lockets, Orbs, Alexander’s origin and his people, Weyer, just 10/10. The Dark World parts were my favourites by far. The Shadow chase sequence gave me chills but at the same time felt like a weird-ass homecoming.
Scare-wise Rebirth was an unnerving experience that kept me on edge almost constantly. This is definitely the scariest FG game for me so far. The adrenaline rushes from the chase sequences were exceptionally rewarding with the calmer bits that came directly afterwards. FG has managed to bring back my apprehension towards water (seriously, fuck that sewer part), something I didn’t think possible considering how many times I’ve played TDD and turned the water lurker instance into a cake walk. I really liked the overall pacing, which has always been FG’s strong suite, and I’m glad they delivered again on that front. Having to creep past enemies on several occasions was terrifying beyond all my expectations. The tension unfortunately didn’t stay all the way to the end and I found the final enemies – the wraiths – quite boring. I never once felt scared by them, just frustrated, because I couldn’t figure out their patterns. Maybe that’s just a personal problem, though – I get serious tunnel vision when stressed out, so it might have just been me having perception issues.
There was an annoying feature with the “fear flashes” at launch, which thankfully got patched in a few days. I didn’t find them scary, just annoying because they seriously impeded my progression and ended up distracting me rather than encouraging me to push on. The game felt much better to play after this feature was toned down.
I admit I liked the game mostly because of what it contributes to Amnesia lore and with terms to characters from TDD, not so much because of Rebirth’s particular storyline. Tasi was likeable character, but I’m not a maternal or family-oriented person (and I have some personal discomfort with themes like pregnancy, childbirth and children), so her motivations just didn’t touch me. The ending felt anticlimactic because of this; I could not relate to her choice at all, especially after finding out she sacrified the lives of all her friends and her spouse for her unborn baby. Seriously, who the hell does that? I can’t think of a single person, not even those friends of mine who have kids, who would seriously make that choice. It’s just not believable; the lives of 13-something others that you know and care about, for a child who has a deadly disease that will kill them with utter certainty. I don’t know, guys, I would’ve just agreed to the Empress’ terms and seen my friends and the love of my life live instead. Tasi does continue the succession of Amnesia protagonists being extremely selfish and I suppose that’s fitting enough.
As weird as it sounds, I relate more to Daniel’s troubles still - at least I felt like I could get inside his head and understand his motivations. It least his story was fully about him and his survival. I wish FG had taken a different approach with Tasi and not made her character entirely about motherhood. Maybe that angle speaks to a majority of players, who knows, but it just didn’t do it for me. Might replay one day for the wider lore, though, but certainly skipping the ending.
My biggest gripe was forcing the player to sit through an actual goddamn child birth scene without warning or the ability to skip it. There is no reason why that couldn’t be skipped with a fade-to-black. This is something I am particularly uncomfortable with; I never, ever want to see that in an immersive first-person game, no matter how much the developers think it adds to the character’s story. It didn’t make me feel for Tasi, it made me feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. As an afab person you are constantly being bombarded with messages that your body is only good for making babies and that you must want maternity and children, that your body isn’t your own to do with as you choose, and I’m particularly anxious about all that. This game wasn’t exactly a fun experience on that front.
Don’t get me wrong. Rebirth was all in all still a solid game and an amazing horror experience, minus the last hour of the game. If you have the same issues as I have with pregnancy and child birth, I would highly recommend skipping this one. Otherwise the positive outweights the negative by a lot, so whether this is for you depends on, well, you.