“The Bunker” is not the first game in the “Amnesia” series, which started in 2010 with the wildly acclaimed “Amnesia: The Dark Descent.” Independently released online for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, “The Dark Descent” was a critical hit and a word-of-mouth smash, eventually working to the PS4 in 2016 and the Xbox One in 2018. Like many breakthrough indie games, it’s a simple concept that taps a relatable nerve—being trapped in a threatening location. In the case of the original, it was a castle. Thirteen years later—and following two other installments in 2013’s “A Machine for Pigs” and 2020’s “Rebirth”—the series has shifted locations drastically, moving to a bunker during World War I.
You play as a French soldier who narrowly escapes death in the game’s opening scenes and awakens in what seems like an abandoned bunker. The first-person perspective keeps you locked as you explore the corridors and rooms of this game’s setting, mostly searching for supplies to blast your way to freedom—the door is blocked by rubble. The main problem is one of power. There’s a generator that you can fill with fuel to give yourself light, but it runs out pretty quickly, meaning the game has a constant ticking clock. How far can I go into the bunker before I’m plunged into darkness again? And there’s something in that darkness. Something that’s hunting you.
“The Bunker” is essentially a puzzle game. How can I get through this locked door without making too much noise so whatever monster is in this underground lair to find me? You will occasionally find weapons and ammo, but gunfire alerts the creature hidden in the walls that has left behind the decimated bodies you happen upon. Is that rumble from the war outside or the monster around the corner? Should I run? Should I shoot? Should I just cry? I’ll admit to having a lot of “The Bunker” left to explore—my review of the massive “Diablo IV” and the pending review of the massive “Final Fantasy XVI” have been a little time-consuming—but what I like about the first hours of this game is the sense that I’m in control of my fate here, authoring the game as much as being guided through it. It’s true survival horror.