This weeks #TuneTuesday post has us look at one of the calmer cues from one of the most horrifying games to have been made. The cue is Ending: Alexander, from Amnesia: The Dark Descent, composed by Mikko Tarmia.
You play as Daniel, a young man from London who has awoken in the dark and empty halls of the Prussian Brennenburg Castle with little to no memory about himself or his past. All he can remember is his name, that he lives in Mayfair and that a 'Shadow' is hunting him. It does not take him long to find a letter from his past self, telling him that he has deliberately erased his own memory. But before doing this, he instructed his future self (ie, you) to kill Alexander, the castle's baron (it's set in 1839). Why he didn't kill Alexander before wiping his memory is beyond me...
Gaping plot flaw aside, it is considered to be one of the greatest horror games to have spawned from the mouths of hell, and I am in that mindset. The Dark Descent takes many influences from Lovecraftian horror, using the famous quote “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” to it's fullest.
I discussed in a previous #TuneTuesday thread (almost a year ago) about the impeccable sound design and score, both of which scares you more than the monsters themselves. You cannot fight the monsters, so your only option is to hide. They are sensitive to the light from your lamp, so you have to hide in the dark. Problem is, Daniel is scared of the dark and can start making whimpering noises, should his Sanity drop too much. You can't really look at them drains your Sanity Meter, which is not good for Daniel.
In short, you're fucked.
Should you survive to the very end, you meet Alexander in the Inner Sanctum, who has nearly completed his ritual. Should you let him finish it and not kill him, you are killed by the Shadow because [INSERT PLOT DEVICE HERE], which gains you the bad ending, and this piano piece in G minor plays. To me, it serves to purposes.
- To show the player you gone and fucked up (as if being torn apart by a strawberry monster wasn’t frightening enough!) as this is essentially a piano requiem, a song for the dead.
- To make the player feel for Alexander’s plight.
There are no real heroes in this game, but some players would feel terribly sorry for Alexander’s circumstance. Should you unlock this ending, he gets what he wants, but the price is very dear (ie, your life) and despite all that transpires between Daniel and Alexander, I get the impression that he did care for you and did try to help you, but not as much as he was helping himself.
Now I could be looking into this far too much, as Alexander could very well just be using Daniel the whole time so that he could [INSERT PLOT DEVICE HERE], but that is the interesting effect the cue has had on me. Music can warp and distort the listener’s perception on the media present, making you reconsider everything you have learnt about the universe unfolding in front of the eyes of the audience, and this cue has made me feel sorry for one of the most manipulative and sinister characters, Alexander von Brennenburg, Baron of Castle Brenneburg