Amnesia: Later x Crowd brings the first two Amnesia fan discs—Later and Crowd—together on the Nintendo Switch in English for the first time. Fan discs can almost be likened to DLC: additional content that doesn’t stand on its own and isn’t distinct enough to be a sequel. Later x Crowd is comprised of various stories, some that take place after the routes of Amnesia: Memories, and some that are set in alternate worlds from it. Fans of the original game will find a lot to like in this hefty collection; although the original’s strengths aren’t always given the opportunity to shine through, the times when they are provide satisfying supplementary scenarios that sometimes eclipse their predecessors.
Amnesia: Later, the first of the two fan discs, is where most of the original’s strong suits are disregarded. Instead of amping up the suspense that Memories so masterfully controlled, Later opts for more sweet and comedic storylines. While these tend to serve their purposes well, it still feels somewhat jarring. Take, for instance, Later’s initial story, titled “New World.” In this segment, the cast from Memories works to take the protagonist firefly-viewing. From here, the player can unlock other character-specific “After” stories. Since New World exists predominantly to unlock the rest of Later’s content, the lighthearted and one-dimensional tone is appropriate, but it’s still a major departure from the tense atmosphere and nuance of Memories.
The subsequent stories do better at fleshing out the cast—to a certain extent. The weakest of these are the “Girls Party” stories: what could have been a grand opportunity to deepen Sawa, Mine, and Rika as characters is instead the girls simply gossiping about the love interests, who already have the majority of the series’s content to themselves. “Waka’s World” is far stronger: each chapter takes place in one of Memories’s different universes and centers around its version of Waka. The player gets the chance to grow closer to each Waka in bite-sized stories that take place before the events of Memories. Here players get not only some delightful Waka content but also the chance to see the protagonist without Orion, speaking out loud and making her own decisions.
The protagonist also gets some time to shine during the After stories, which, as the name implies, take place after the events of Memories. Each love interest’s After story focuses on the budding relationship between him and the protagonist, with varying amounts of effectiveness. The events of Shin’s route in Memories are mostly glossed over as the After story focuses on him and the heroine learning to better communicate their wants in their relationship. The heroine’s overly forgiving nature in Toma’s route nearly leads to him not having the opportunity to deepen as a character and redeem himself after his actions in Memories. The tonal shift between their original plots and their After stories is immense—welcome for fans who want the more lovey-dovey follow-up with their favorite love interests, but jarring nonetheless.
On the other hand, Kent and Ikki’s After stories feel like natural progressions from their original routes. Their stories in Memories were already far less suspenseful than the rest, opting to focus more on the love interest’s relationship with the protagonist. Their Later After stories follow this up nicely by deepening their relationship-centered conflicts. The final love interest, Ukyo, balances things out. His story focuses on his relationship with the heroine and simultaneously resolves the matter of his sinister alternate personality, the source of much of his original route’s suspense elements. Like the rest of Later‘s content, these fun follow-ups certainly have their appeal, but lack the unique tone that made Memories so special.
The second fan disc, Amnesia: Crowd, is consistently stronger than Later when it comes to building off of Memories’s strengths. Crowd includes “Suspense” stories for each love interest, set during the events of their Memories route. As the name denotes, the Suspense routes feature the protagonist in dangerous scenarios, and she and the route’s love interest must both do what they can to escape safely. These scenarios periodically make use of point-and-click segments that offer a greater sense of control over the heroine than ever before. Additionally, being able to interact with her environment provides an even stronger sense of stress and urgency appropriate to the situations. While the mechanics may feel rudimentary on the surface, such as the lack of a visual to indicate when an area has already been checked, this actually serves a purpose as players only have a set number of actions they can take before they’re met with a game over.
The situations the characters find themselves in during the Suspense routes all successfully maintain Memories’s original tone; as the protagonist finds herself involved in a kidnapping, a haunting, and even a deadly escape room, Crowd’s Suspense narratives all follow up brilliantly on Memories’s control of tension and thrill. Even Kent’s and Ikki’s Suspense stories ramp up the danger compared to their usual routes’ fare, finally giving them their chance to shine in a way that aligns far more closely with Memories’s unique attributes.
Outside of the Suspense stories, Crowd features a wealth of content for the Amnesia fan. Like Later, this content is mostly light and fluffy, but still fun, including romance-centric follow-up stories, a comedic mode based on working at Meido no Hitsuji with mini-stories and mini-games, and even a quiz to test the player’s Amnesia knowledge. Because the Suspense stories are so strong, these additional modes feel like exactly that: welcome bonus content for anyone seeking it. Following suspense with some well-earned fluff feels suitable when both are packaged in the same game.
Looking at Later and Crowd together, both feature vastly improved CG graphics compared to Memories. Awkward limbs and facial proportions are mostly gone, although players are still reminded of Memories‘s dicey visuals thanks to the reuse of character sprites and even some original CGs during flashback sequences. And while overall a highly polished game, Later x Crowd does have more blatant typographical errors than Memories, including more sentences ending without punctuation and inconsistent spellings, such as the use of both Napa and Nappa cabbage at different points in the game.
While not weak by any means, Amnesia: Later doesn’t hit that sweet spot of chills and thrills that Amnesia: Memories achieved so well. But Amnesia: Crowd picks up the slack with ease, making the combination Later x Crowd a worthy follow-up for any fan of the original. As a bonus, Crowd’s additional modes offer some genuinely fun stories and mini-games that are worth coming back to. As a complete package, Amnesia: Later x Crowd serves as a lovely continuation of the Amnesia universe. One can only hope Amnesia: World will join with an English release of its own someday.