Amnesia: The Dark Descent is without a doubt one of the most important horror games ever made, It revolutionized the genre in the 2010s by opening the door for many low-effort clones but also to a ton of excellent horror games that are guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
But what makes Amnesia Amnesia?
Well, most importantly, it is played from a first-person perspective, it has some survival horror elements thrown in for good measure, and it makes the player more vulnerable by making it impossible to fight enemies off. In other words, it leaves running and hiding as the only ways of survival when faced with real danger.
With that in mind, we’ll be listing some games that are based on that very formula. So if you’re looking for more games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, read on!
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Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague
The first and most obvious entry on the list is Frictional’s own Penumbra series. It is with these games that the studio made its horror debut and first introduced the key innovation that would go on to define Amnesia and many other games that would follow in its footsteps.
Penumbra: Overture was the first game of the two, albeit it is somewhat rough around the edges, which is only to be expected considering it was Frictional’s first, highly experimental title.
It introduced a clunky melee combat system, although fighting was generally not a good idea. The enemies, while they could deal a lot of damage quickly, were mostly underwhelming from a design standpoint, and that’s putting it lightly.
Having said that, Overture primarily acts as an introduction to the second game’s story, which we believe is significantly superior due to various factors.
Penumbra: Black Plague does away with the combat system, thus being the first Frictional game to feature the “no-combat” approach. Moreover, it introduces enemies that are much more unnerving, features environments that are more memorable, and more detailed, plus it handles the story aspect much better, exploring it in much greater detail before wrapping it up.
In contrast, Overture was more or less, just teasing the story all the way through and ended on a disappointing cliffhanger.
The third and final Penumbra game is Penumbra: Requiem, but it is more of a puzzle game rather than a proper horror game, as it features no enemies and works mostly as a sort of closure for the protagonist’s story, although we feel that the ending of Black Plague presented an ending that was more than appropriate for the two-game series.
All in all, if you’re a fan of Amnesia and still somehow haven’t played Penumbra, now would be the time to do it.
The second most obvious entry on the list would, of course, have to be Frictional Games’ 2015 title, SOMA. While it obviously borrows a lot from Amnesia, SOMA focuses more on the story itself than the survival horror aspect that defined its predecessor.
There are fewer puzzles than in Amnesia, there are no resources to handle, and the enemy encounters are not as common. On top of that, the developers added a “safe mode” to the game later on.
It allowed the player to make the enemies completely passive and play through the game as if it were a regular walking sim, thus making it more accessible to those who aren’t really into the whole horror aspect of the game but are still interested in the story the game has to tell.
In any case, what makes SOMA special is its atmosphere and the exceptional way in which it handles the story that is defined by and filled to the brim with heavy existential themes. Needless to say, it presents some questions that will get the player thinking, and it’s one of those games where the story is a significant source of dread.
With all of the above in mind, SOMA is a bit different from Frictional’s earlier titles, but it could very well be their best game yet, though that is a very subjective matter.
A game that came out shortly after Amnesia and that also kickstarted the career of many streamers is Outlast. Set in an insane asylum, Outlast is a much more straightforward horror experience than Frictional’s games are, but it has its own merits.
Sure, it can’t quite compare with Amnesia or other Frictional games when it comes to the story (which feels tacked-on simply because the game needed one). While it looks very good from a technical standpoint, even in 2024, the atmosphere isn’t quite on the same level either. However, an area where Outlast truly shines is its scripted jumpscares and chases, and that’s what it’s good at and what it should be appreciated for.
Much like in Amnesia, light is the main resource to keep track of in Outlast, albeit it’s not exactly light but the night vision mode on the protagonist’s camcorder that the player must keep powered.
It allows the player to see in the dark without any light giving their position away to any enemies that might be in the area, which is an important mechanic considering how many stealth and chase sequences take place in poorly-lit environments.
Moreover, Outlast has received a sequel in 2017 titled Outlast 2, and it has all the same pros and cons of its predecessor. So, if you liked the first game for its adrenaline-inducing chases, jumpscares, and gore, then the sequel is just more of the same good stuff.
Alien: Isolation is definitely one of the top survival horror games ever created, without a doubt. Taking inspiration primarily from the first Alien film released in 1979, Isolation makes an earnest effort to revive H.R. Giger’s Alien as an invincible killing beast, and it successfully achieves that objective admirably.
Overall, the retro-futuristic aesthetic makes Alien: Isolation very visually distinct, but the best thing about the game is the Alien’s superb AI. Enemy AI is one of the big issues with most horror games of this kind, as it’s often very easy to figure out the monsters’ behavior and movement patterns and then easily outsmart them.
The Alien, however, is highly unpredictable and intelligent. It reacts to changes in the environment, mostly sound, and the player is never truly safe as long as it’s around. To make matters worse, getting spotted by it is a death sentence, as it’s impossible to outrun it or hide from it after being spotted.
And while the extraterrestrial can be temporarily frightened off or distracted with certain tools, the creature will often come back with a vengeance afterward, so avoiding contact altogether is preferable.
Of course, Alien: Isolation has other types of enemies such as humans and androids that can be engaged in different ways and even fought and killed, as well as a crafting system that allows the player to use scrap to make all sorts of useful tools.
This provides some much-needed variety since simply crawling around and hiding from an invulnerable one-hit-kill menace throughout the 15+ hour campaign could get tedious, to say the least.
In any case, this is yet another horror classic that is an absolute must-play for any Amnesia fan. It simply has all the bases covered: graphics, atmosphere, and gameplay, plus a lot of replay value thanks to the AI as mentioned earlier that can become quite unforgiving on higher difficulties.
Layers of Fear
Next, we have a game that focuses more on psychological horror and completely does away with survival mechanics altogether, focusing entirely on story and exploration instead.
Layers of Fear allows players to investigate the protagonist’s residence (or rather, his thoughts), using delicate hints and environmental narration to unfold its tale.
That said, it plays more like a walking sim than Amnesia, as there are no resources to keep track of, no monsters to avoid, and no puzzles to solve. However, the game gets very creative with its shifting environments, even if it feels a bit gimmicky at certain points.
In any case, Layers of Fear isn’t exactly like Amnesia, but if you’re after story-oriented horror that places atmosphere first, then you’ll probably enjoy this one. A sequel was also released in 2019, and if you like the original, it goes without saying that you should try out Layers of Fear 2 as well.
Monstrum is a survival horror game with procedurally generated levels that does a good job at implementing the core survival horror formula that you may be familiar with from games such as Amnesia and Alien: Isolation.
The player wakes up inside an abandoned ship and must find their way out by navigating the derelict vessel whose environments are, as mentioned above, procedurally generated. Of course, it’s not a smooth ride, as the player will be stalked by one of three monsters with different behavior patterns that must be avoided in different ways.
Now, procedural generation has some pitfalls. The main one probably being the fact that environments can come across as generic and can become very repetitive after a while, especially since there’s a lot of backtracking due to the game implementing the “go from point A to point B to collect and item and then return it to point A” approach.
So, needless to say, Monstrum can’t compete with the likes of Amnesia when it comes to level design or the story, but if the rush of being trapped in a maze with a monster is what you enjoy the most in horror games, then this one might be worth trying out.
A sequel titled Monstrum 2 is set to be released in Q4 2020, and it seems that it will take the same concept and improve upon it further, so it’s something to keep an eye on if you end up liking the original.
Visage is a graphically stunning horror game currently in Early Access. It was envisioned as a spiritual successor to P.T., and both the first-person perspective and the claustrophobic hallways make that abundantly clear.
That said, survival mechanics aren’t as big of a focus in Visage as the story, and the atmosphere are, but it does feature a sanity meter similar to the one seen in Amnesia.
Darkness and paranormal events deplete it, but in Visage, keeping your sanity high is more important as penalties for low sanity are more severe. For instance, the player will encounter more paranormal events and hostile entities, which will only accelerate the rate at which their sanity decays.
As in Amnesia, staying in well-lit areas gradually restores it, but another way that the player can restore a big chunk of their sanity is with the help of pills that are scattered throughout the house, similar to the “sanity potions” that were originally supposed to be featured in Amnesia but ended up getting scrapped.
In any case, Visage is a great game that has already amassed a significant following despite only being in Early Access for less than two years.
The game is going to feature a total of four chapters, although only two are currently available. The two chapters mentioned above take about 3-4 hours to complete, and you can grab the game right now or wait for the full version, which is expected to launch in Summer 2020.
The Beast Inside
Yet another horror title with outstanding graphics, The Beast Inside features rich, detailed environments, and it does a great job when it comes to balancing the story and the survival horror elements of the game.
Most notably, The Beast Inside features two separate protagonists, one living in the 20th and the other in the 19th century, something that provides a bit of gameplay variety and allows the story to be told in a less conventional manner.
Much like Amnesia, the game features quite a few puzzles that need to be solved, and, as mentioned above, it looks excellent from both a design and from a technical perspective, though the story is probably the game’s strongest point.
In any case, despite not being a classic like Amnesia, The Beast Inside is a very good horror game that manages to pack a lot of substance into its 5-hour campaign.
And so, that would be our selection of the top horror games comparable to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. All things considered, Amnesia is a rather distinct experience and we believe that only the few other titles developed by Frictional Games genuinely emit appropriate Amnesia vibes, but as you can see, there are quite a few horror games out there that are akin to Amnesia in one way or another.
So, until the sequel, Amnesia: Rebirth, drops in late 2020, you can warm up with some of the titles listed here. Naturally, there are a ton of good horror games out there, and even more games will be released, so be sure to check back from time to time!