Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent is often poked fun at by players, apparently having a lack of common sense, pointing out the obvious in some audio flashbacks, or not being about to fight with weapons in the game where there are some items that can be used as such. That and I've seen some call him a wuss or wimp.
Now I know it's fun to poke fun at him and it's clear a lot of these complaints come out of frustation while playing the game. I've been guilty of the above too, so I know the above criticisms are good points.
Nevertheless, I think this protagonist deserves a lot more credit than we give him.
Let's start with the audio flashbacks and his sense in believing Alexander's story about taking extreme measures to "save his life."
In one of his diary entries, Daniel states, "…even traveling across Europe I assumed I would have to embrace the supernatural to save my mind and life. As a novice, I do everything in my power to stay focused and not dwell too much on my own doubts."
Since he is not familiar with the supernatural and/or the occult, Daniel has to rely on Alexander's knowledge. We learn that Alexander had him focus most of his attention on extracting vitae just to extend his own life. Daniel could not have known this from the beginning, and even then, he did suspect that Alexander had his own interests in mind (another diary entry asks,"What he stand to gain? I realize he is curious about it all, but surely, there must be more"). He just was not sure how the Baron would go about helping banish the Shadow as well as utilize the Orb.
Additionally, Daniel is afraid for his life. We don't understand how he feels (unless you've been in a life-threatening situation before). We may say we'll be brave, but our survival instinct can be so strong that we do not think as rationally as we normally would. Alexander tells Daniel to perform a warding ritual. Daniel is reluctant, but keeps telling himself that the victims are criminals, and he has to do this to save his own life. If he can just do this, perhaps there will be enough time to stop the Shadow so he will not have to harm anyone anymore.
Now let's move on to the issue of Daniel "stating the obvious" in the audio flashbacks.
There can be a lot of reasons for this aside from the blanket statement of "He's stupid." The fact that he can figure out puzzles and machinery while suffering amnesia implies the opposite.
You could say he just lacks common sense, but think about it - we've all stated the obvious at some points in our lives. We do it to encourage a conversation, and keep awkward silences away. The obvious reason for this is what we don't know what to say or how to respond, but again, this does not indicate a lack of intelligence. We cannot be ready with a great response every single time it is our turn in a conversation.
When Alexander mentions the water can be used for all sorts of purposes, Daniel mentions, "Like for drinking." The player than usually goes, "Well duh!" But consider how you would have answered Alex if he was explaining this to you as well. Having his own personal drinking water would be very convenient, and is the first conclusion many would come to. Notice also Daniel's conclusion of "conserving water from the spring" and "water mills" in that same conversation, which is not stating the obvious. Daniel is using the drinking line as a way of having Alexander continue his explanation.
How about when Dan asks if there are "more dead men" in the morgue?
You can obviously tell from his tone that he's uncomfortable about the idea. Since he is following Alexander in this flashback and has just been told about where they're going, he says something to ease the tension. It's like when the player is going through the game and is wondering if a monster is going to be around the corner in the Prison. Just watch Let's Players in the really scary parts of the game. They talk to themselves, sometimes stating the obvious. Doesn't mean they're stupid, it means they're uncomfortable and scared. We may later say, "Duh!" to their comments, but we must realize that we talk to ourselves or others for comfort. These comments are often the first things that come to our mind in the given situation since we are too scared to think further than that. It does not indicate a lack of logic.
Next, we move onto the issue of Daniel not using weapons in the game, even though there are saws and other objects that would work well as such lying around. I shall quote from a comment I made before about this:
"Mainly because it's just the gameplay mechanic...if we could grab anything as a weapon Condemned style, then most of the scare would be gone.
If we take the gameplay excuse out of the equation, Daniel did apparently use a knife and other things before he wiped his memory. Now that he's alone and scared in an abandoned castle with monsters he can't comprehend, it might not be in the nature of self-preservation to confront them...After all, you don't know how strong the things are.
In the pdf "Remember" that came with the Justine expansion, the last short story talked about Gabriel the outrider that managed to take a shot at one of the Gatherers, and it didn't die.
So I'm figuring the best defense for Gatherers is still running...or throwing a box, then running."
Since we see a body of a Gatherer killed by the Shadow in the sewers, it's pretty obvious they're not immortal, but we still are unsure of how much they can take before they die. Even a human being can overpower us, why risk a creature such as these?
Finally, there's the topic of Daniel being a wimp.
Just think about it: if you get scared just by playing this game, how would you react in that very situation, where your life AND sanity was at stake? And I mean you being scared while playing the game as it should be played (lights off, all alone, not talking, and wearing headphones).
It might be best to slip past the monsters unnoticed than put yourself in harm's way. You know nothing about who you are, where you are, and why you're there. When danger rears its ugly head, would it be better to fight, when you're not sure how powerful the creatures are, or run?
That is another thing we have to consider, is the very title of the game: Amnesia. Daniel doesn't remember anything about himself, and yet we still criticize him because he wants to err on the side of caution.
Let's not forget that in the Revenge ending he gets through this castle of horrors in one piece. That's pretty amazing.
If you want to read a continuation of this rant, I posted a second part on my Tumblr here: zerachielamora.tumblr.com/post…
Also, you are not allowed to use this in external artwork.
Daniel never expected to get out alive. His note to himself did not even mention escape - all he set out to do was set right his wrongs. That was his only goal. Certainly, I bet through the game he has mental breakdowns and just wants to get away from all this, but that never clouds his mind. He still writes his mementos, he still struggles on. That, for me, is what makes Daniel a truly courageous hero. The player likes to criticise him, but the player has the option of quitting at any time. Daniel has no normal life anymore. He hardly has a life at all. He doesn't even remember what that was like! Judging him is something I really can't bring myself to do. He killed people, but how do we know we wouldn't have done the same?
And he has so many endings. He can choose to redeem himself by avenging all of the prisoners he made suffer, help another soul find happiness (Agrippa) in expense of his own soul or even selflessly let Alexander go back home, sacrificing himself in the process. How much of a hero Daniel becomes fully depends on how much of a hero you are, and that makes him one of the most human protagonists I've ever seen.
Edit: I will admit, with a hint of embarrassment, that I am way too cowardly to play the game myself and have only watched Tobuscus and Gopher play the game (if you haven't watched Gopher play the game, you really should - it's like he is Daniel sometimes, so immersed that it's his sanity he's recovering when he sits in front of a light source). I like that nauseating terror the game provokes, but my natural instinct when I'm afraid is to completely freeze, so I'd suck at actually playing Amnesia. However, toward the end of the game, every single time I watch I get more sad than frightened, and by the time of the Cells I'm silently weeping for all the shit that the poor characters go through. Daniel, Alexander, Agrippa, the servant monsters, even the stupid Shadow. None of them are evil, and none of them are good. That is what makes an amazing story.
(i think people who say hes a wuss are the kind who say theyd survive the zombie apocalypse, yet have no survival skills)
I like Daniel because if you ask me, he is one of the few playable characters in the gaming world who really has distinctive feelings and emotions, I feel Frictional Games took a more realistic approach to his character. Daniel risked his life by going through a very scary castle, complete with monsters in order to put things right, if you get the Revenge Ending he makes a very well thought out speech as well as strolling out of the castle like a badass! The Good Ending also shows Daniel's bravery because he is willing to sacrifice his life to save another even though we are told that he went to extremes to preserve his life previously.
Besides all that, in the game he can also pick up giant rocks with one hand and throw them 0-o that's pretty amazing.
As for Daniel stating the obvious in the cistern I agree, although I personally think it's quite adorable XD But yeah, we are told that Daniel is young so he is bound to still be curious, particularly in a supernatural environment.
The grunt gets lots of credit.
Alexander gets lots of credit.
NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE BRUTE. HE NEEDS LOVE.
everyone's all MR. FACE LOL
he's the only one that ever killed me ingame, anyway
Found it fitting.)
About not being able to fight back: first and foremost it was intended by the developer. Not being able to fight only adds to the overall horror effect, not surprising that Amnesia has been chosen as number one scariest game in many of a top ten. I honestly cannot picture fighting in Amnesia Penumbra-style (manually swinging an item). Okay, maybe you can fight against *dogs* (most common enemy in Penumbra) but against a beast with a blade instead of an arm... Or a monster with stretched out lower jaw... That can shatter even the most powerful mind. And Daniel was already weakened because of the Amnesia potion. Oh, and those weeks-long Shadow-nightmares and lack of appetite also. So, in conclusion, Daniel is one of the bravest characters in game world. Try fighting when your mind/sanity and body deceits you.
He's a tragic, 'most-human' character, manipulated by Alexander into committing terrible deeds, but he atones for his crimes in the my favorite Revenge ending. Note to myself: always choose the Revenge ending, and the Shadow becomes a BFF. *happy sigh*
Also, Daniel runs way faster than Phil from Penumbra, imo.
That was beautifully put! I agree a hundred percent on those points, the only comment I do have, is we find the grunt dead and cut up shortly after brutes are introduced to us. We as the gamer will realize (if at this point he hadn't been deduced already) that this monster is stronger than a grunt, and is equipped with a blade on it's arm.
I'd say it was killed by the brute in the sewers. Not saying you're stupid or anything for not considering that, and I'm sure someone has said it by now, but I figured I'd present that theory .
An interesting theory, but I'd say it doesn't fit.
"In some rare cases, if a brute and servant grunt are in the same room and one of them unintentionally hits the other, they will start fighting".
I've never seen this personally, I'm thinking perhaps this happens in mods as brutes and grunts in Amnesia don't spawn in the same areas. I kinda want to try it, it's probably interesting to see. Though really, the monsters are probably fooled into thinking one of them is Daniel or something :I.
It is a rather crude fit, but I'm not sure what else would work as well.
I feel sympathy for him, even tough I'm sure he knew that he was murdering innocents when he entered to that village with Alexander. He had to be really desperate. If I can feel sympathy for Dorian Gray, it would be imbossible not to feel sympathy towards Daniel.
Sympathising for people or characters is something I never forget to do, however, and I feel sympathy for him. He didn't deserve what befell him per say, because Alexander deceived him, as we know... But he chose to follow Alexander in torturing to save himself. I feel that Daniel and Alexander alike were corrupted by circumstance. They are both good and evil in different senses and perspectives.
I probably would have jumped out the nearest window at the beginning when those doors were opening on their own. ._.
For all the players who call him a wimp, I'd like to see them make their way through a broken down castle with little lighting, zero to no company except for severely disfigured monsters, a centuries old man who's extremely talkative for someone who's missing his lower jaw, and an other-worldly being who watches you while you sleep, and, of course, escape an unseen enemy who chases you constantly and leaves really disgusting fleshy substances on walls that can kill you in an instant if you're not looking where you're going.
I know I'm probably not the first person to state this, but this is what I think every time I see someone call Daniel a wimp or a coward.
Sorry for such a long and rambling response. But this is one of the many things that annoy me, and yes I realize (as many people have pointed out to me) that he is just a character. But really people are so quick to judge anybody and anything, how would they react if they were in his position. Not many people would go into rooms without being scared, in the pitch darkness. Heck I cant even walk around around my own house in the pitch dark without tripping over something, not to mention a place never been or remembering being before with things running around trying to kill you and things screaming.
I agree, hes not a coward and hes not stupid. Hes just reacting like a human. Which in a video game is really amazing since most games the characters don't really seem to care whats going around them. Sorry for this long rant, but I agree with you.
Hope this doesn't offend anyone
"...hes not a coward and hes not stupid. Hes just reacting like a human. Which in a video game is really amazing since most games the characters don't really seem to care whats going around them."
Thanks so much for saying this, I totally agree. He IS acting like a human, and we (usually) expect the protagonist to be a badass. When they turn out to be just like you and me, we tend to poke fun at him.
I mean, poking fun at a video game and the character is fun and all, I do it myself, but I think a lot of fans view Daniel as lacking in a serious sense as well. That is what prompted me to make the stamp.
Thanks again for your feedback!
First, he's a videogame character. He murdered NPCs. Let's not get ourselves so worked up over that as to verbally assault anyone who still even remotely feels bad for him. Even if he is a murderer, how many times in fictional and real murder trials do people sometimes find themselves pitying the murderer because they just seem so emotionally fragile? And let's not forget how important first impressions are. If even in murder trials, where you go in knowing that whoever you're about to meet has killed another person, you can still feel bad for them. In the game, however, you don't even know he tortured or killed anyone until like halfway through the game or something. And by that time, all you've experienced from him is his whimpering and heart pounding when it gets dark, and running away because he's got nothing to defend himself with. Even if he's still braver than the average person for even going near all those dark corridors, he's no nerves-of-steel made-of-stone hero from some similar games.
Well, I haven't even played the game myself, just watched the LPs because I'm too damn lazy to buy it myself. But still I think it's damn weird people will get so strung-up about the death of some NPCs.
I think what a lot of people overlook with Daniel is not just that he tortured and killed some people, but if it wasn't for the situation he was in, he wouldn't have done it. Many of us don't want to admit that in a life or death situation, with no one else to turn to but someone who demands blood rituals to defend against a supernatural entity, we may do what's necessary to save ourselves. That and Daniel felt bad for what he did, at least his former self did. Some may or may not think he deserves the punishment he got, but none of us should look down on someone else for sympathizing with him, as you mentioned. He puts up with a lot through the game - it might not make him a hero, but certainly he has a great deal of bravery for having no memory and still facing the castle of horrors on his own, unarmed.
I appreciate the feedback.