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A promotional image for Amnesia's Hard Mode

Hard Mode is one of two gameplay modes for Amnesia: The Dark Descent (the other being Normal mode), and for the same game as part of Amnesia: Collection for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.


Hard Mode was announced by Frictional Games to be released with the Xbox One edition of Amnesia: Collection on September 21, 2018.[citation needed] It was released for Xbox One and PC on September 28, 2018; however a bug in the PC version forced Frictional Games to remove the feature, which was re-added on October 2, 2018.[citation needed] After some delays, it was also released for the PlayStation 4 version of Amnesia: Collection on March 22, 2019.[citation needed]


Far more difficult than normal mode, Hard Mode has the following differences:

  • Autosaves are disabled; manual saving costs 4 tinderboxes.
  • Dying reverts to the last save instead of respawning.
  • Sanity dropping to zero results in death.
  • The amount of oil and tinderboxes throughout the levels has been drastically reduced.
  • Oil barrels always give only 10% oil.
  • Gatherers are faster, spot the player more easily, deal double damage, and search for the player for longer.
    • However, they do NOT patrol areas for longer. The only thing lengthened is the time they spend searching, as in when they have heard a sound but do not see the player. They will still despawn as soon as they have patrolled their predefined points, which they only do if they are unaware of the player or have given up searching for them.
    • Servant Grunts are capable of killing the player in one hit, even at full health.
      • They normally deal between 30 and 60 damage, which is raised to 60 and 120 in Hard Mode.
    • Servant Brutes will always kill the player in one hit, as their minimum damage is increased from 50 to 100.
  • Kaernks are simply faster and deal double damage, killing the player in two bites.
    • It normally takes at least three bites, as they deal between 30 and 45 damage. In Hard Mode, this is 60 and 90 instead.
    • The other changes applied to all enemies do not affect them, as their perception is still very limited.
  • There is no "danger music" when Gatherers are present (though they still make audible noises and the other music cues, the "search" and "attack" music, will still be heard).

The amount of tinderboxes in each map depends on how many tinderboxes the player has when the map is loaded. The more tinderboxes they have, the fewer tinderboxes there will be. If the player has seven tinderboxes, all but one of the tinderboxes in the map will be removed. If the player has eight or more, all tinderboxes will be removed. This makes hoarding tinderboxes for making saves later in the game less of a viable strategy.

It also encourages (intentionally or not) the player to collect all the oil and tinderboxes the first time they enter a level, as re-entering the level while there are still items left in the map will cause additional ones to be removed. This will also happen when loading a save, so make sure to collect all the items in the map before exiting or saving.

Tips and Strategies[]

General strategies[]

  • Definitely play Normal mode first at least once before attempting a Hard Mode playthrough.
    • Attempting a deathless run is good practice for Hard Mode, at least as far as dealing with enemies is concerned. You can accomplish this by exiting without saving whenever you die and loading your most recent save. This will help you get used to successfully avoiding certain enemy encounters that you find difficult to get past without dying.
  • Conserve your resources. Managing your tinderboxes and oil is much more important than a normal playthrough, so use them wisely.
  • Proceed quickly through the levels, sprinting as long as it safe to do so. The more time you spend in darkness, the more sanity you will lose. The longer you have the lantern out, the more oil you will use up. Therefore, speed and efficiency are the keys to success.

Managing sanity[]

  • If your sanity drops to "Head is pounding and hands are shaking" or "...", stand close to a light source for a while to regenerate your sanity back to "A slight headache".
    • The limited amount of tinderboxes makes pre-lit lights and ambient lights very valuable for this very reason.
  • Using a tinderbox restores a small amount of sanity, so consider using one if your sanity is low and you have tinderboxes to spare.
  • Some areas have enough ambient lighting to prevent sanity loss, such as the Cellar Archives, the Sewer, and the Choir. Using the lantern in these areas is not needed, so you should refrain from using it in order to conserve oil.
  • Avoid sanity-draining events as much as possible.
    • The Refinery has a number of mandatory sanity-draining events, so it is especially important to avoid the optional ones. The mandatory events result in a total loss of 50 sanity, and the optional ones have a total of 25 sanity loss. If you have 75 sanity or less when you enter the level (anything less than "Crystal clear"), you are at risk of dying of sanity loss.
      • The safest option is to not enter the side rooms at all, but you may wish to in order to collect items. Only do so if you are aware of how to avoid the sanity-draining events.
      • One room on the right side of the area has a diary entry on a table in a corner. Keep your distance from it.
      • The room to the left of the hatch room entrance has a scare that occurs only if the door is closed. Enter through this door and leave it open to avoid the event.
    • In the first level of the Prison, do not continue down the hall past the cell where you find the Hammer. This will trigger a scene behind a locked door of a Brute dragging a man away, which incurs a significant 20 sanity loss.
      • The script area for this event is slightly too large, so it extends into the cell with the Hammer, in the corner where the lit candle is. It may be tempting to sit on this candle to regenerate some sanity, but in doing so, you can easily accidentally trigger the event. Standing in the shaft of light opposite the stairs is a safer option, but you can use that candle as long as you keep away from the corner.
    • Do not pick up the diary entry in the Choir Entrance.
    • It is possible to avoid the iron maiden opening scare in the Choir by jumping onto the corner of the platform on the side of the steps, allowing you to get the Orb Piece on the left side without losing sanity.
  • Being in darkness in Storage drains your sanity faster than normal.
  • In the second level of the Prison, there is an unavoidable event where you are forced to witness a Brute walking at the other end of a hallway. This causes a hefty 30 sanity loss (even if you look away), which is extremely likely to plunge your sanity to dangerous levels if it is any lower than "A slight headache". Because of this, conserve your sanity as much as possible before triggering this event. Entering the level with sanity at "Crystal clear" is the best way of ensuring that you can survive the event.
  • Do not linger in the corpse rooms in the Morgue (including the storage room) or in the torture chambers in the Transept and Choir. Get in and get out as quickly as possible.
    • Staying in the light helps mitigate the sanity loss, but the rate of sanity lost will ultimately outpace the rate of sanity gained.
    • You are forced to hide in one of the corpse rooms during the Brute encounter. Come out of the room as soon as you hear it leave.
    • The area at the top of the spiral staircase in the Transept is well-lit, making it a very good place to regenerate sanity between visiting the torture rooms.
    • In the Choir, only the wheel room's sanity-draining effect starts active. The iron maiden room's effect is triggered by approaching the iron maiden itself (opening on its own); the brazen bull room's effect is only activated when lighting the fire under it. Both of these should be avoided anyway, as the events also damage your sanity when they occur.
  • Gathering the ingredients for Weyer's Tonic and preparing it restores sanity. It may be worth doing if you need a sanity boost, even if you do not intend on getting Agrippa's ending.
    • Feeding the Meat to the Kaernk only results in a net sanity gain if your sanity is lower than 25 (...), and a small one at that. However, it may be worth doing in order to get the larger sanity boost from completing the tonic. Note that feeding the Kaernk after returning to the Nave from the Cells drains 5 more sanity compared to doing so before being captured.
  • Touching the altars in the Inner Sanctum causes 5 sanity damage each. Standing in the circles depletes 35 sanity each time. That adds up to 80 sanity lost. On top of that, the Shadow roaring once the seal is broken drains 15 sanity. This will leave you at only 5 sanity after completing the puzzle, as long as you do not lose sanity by any other means. Because of this, be very careful with your sanity. Regenerate your sanity before fully breaking the seal if you feel it is necessary.

Managing resources[]

  • Always remember to put your lantern away when you get close to a light source, as to not waste oil.
  • Take advantage of flashbacks. While you are experiencing one, you do not lose sanity due to darkness, your lantern does not consume oil while in use,[1] and enemies do not notice you. Take the opportunity to search for items with the lantern out or move through a dark hallway, without worrying about using up oil.
    • It is still possible to sprint during flashbacks. While far slower than the normal sprint speed, it is faster than walking. This slower sprinting seems to be comparable to the normal walking speed. Because of this, you should still sprint during flashbacks in order to cover more ground while one is occurring.
  • Consider "flashing" your lantern by turning it on and off in quick succession. This conserves oil and sanity simultaneously, draining both at a slower rate.
    • With the correct timing, you can save approximately 50% of your oil, compared to keeping the lantern out. The sanity cost for doing this is minimal; only a fraction (approximately 10%) of the sanity lost by not using the lantern.
    • The scarcity of oil compared to Normal mode makes this a much more useful technique. While it is most useful when you are very low on oil, you can also use it to save oil for future use. Used well, it can allow you to spend more oil looking for more items by conserving it at other times.
  • Avoid completely filling your lantern, especially if you know there is an oil barrel coming up. Not only does this prevent wasting oil, it also leaves space in the lantern for the 10% oil each barrel will give.
  • You are in no actual danger before reaching the Cellar Archives, so there is no need to save before then.
  • Saving before entering a dangerous level or before a challenging encounter within a level is the best use of your limited tinderboxes.
  • The game imposes a soft limit of six tinderboxes; less of them will spawn the more you have. Barely any spawn at all if you have more than six, and none at all will spawn if you have more than seven.
    • Because of this, it is impossible to legitimately have more than eight tinderboxes at any given time.
    • Entering a level that normally has a lot of tinderboxes while having low amount of tinderboxes will maximize the amount of tinderboxes available in the level. Because of this, it is a good idea to enter levels like Storage and the Prison – Northern Block with less tinderboxes.
  • Using a tinderbox for lighting is rarely a good idea, as there are very few situations where an additional tinderbox will be present to replace the one that was used. This is due to the fact that most levels have a low number of tinderboxes normally, which means one less tinderbox will not typically make a difference in how many are found in a given level.
  • Re-entering a map or loading a save while there are still tinderboxes and oil left in the map may remove more of them on map load! Be sure to grab them all before you exit the level or make a save.
    • Save states might prevent this from happening; more research is needed.
  • Memorize the potential locations of items so that you can check for them quickly.
    • Completing the Illuminatus achievement helps with memorizing all the potential locations of tinderboxes.

Avoiding enemies[]

  • Enemies are considerably more punishing. Being spotted by one is very likely to result in death. Hide as soon as you hear one for the first time.
    • Certain riskier strategies that work in Normal mode will not work in Hard Mode, such as running past an enemy. Taking a hit and running away is also not viable, as even a Grunt will one-hit kill the player.
      • While throwing objects at enemies still stuns them temporarily, they are able to close the distance much faster. This not only makes the setup far more risky, but also buys very little time, as the monster will quickly catch up after recovering from the hit. This makes the entire strategy basically pointless.
    • Running away when a Gatherer spawns will almost certainly cause it to notice you, as they can detect the sound of a running player far more easily compared to Normal. Instead, walk or sneak away as to not reveal your presence.
    • Because enemies move faster, there are occasions where sneaking is too slow to get to a hiding spot in time. In these cases, you will have to walk in order to get out of sight quickly enough.
    • Enemies will often spawn near you at certain points and wander to predetermined locations close to where you are, but will rarely venture to where you are if you retreat without being noticed. Because of this, sneaking back the way you came is a very effective strategy in most situations.
    • With the lack of danger music, you will have to listen for their ambient sounds to determine if they have wandered off or not.
  • Hiding in darkness will drain your sanity, so it may be worth it to hide near a light source so you can get closer to it when it is safe to do so. Retreat back to the darkness if you hear a monster approaching.
    • It is safe to be near a light source or even have the lantern out as long as the enemy does not have a line of sight to you.
    • Crouching alone cuts the sight radius of enemies in half and makes your footsteps very quiet. This is sufficient in most situations.
  • Only use the lantern if you are fully hidden from an enemy, and are not in any areas that they will patrol. A bug causes the sight range of all active enemies to quickly expand indefinitely while the lantern is in use, so avoid using it if you are at risk of being detected.
  • Avoid looking at enemies to conserve sanity. However, if they are at the edges of your vision, you will not lose sanity. You can make use of this to peek at enemies to check if they are there with little to no sanity loss.
  • As mentioned above, enemies cannot see or hear you while a flashback is occurring. There are not many opportunities to take advantage of this, however.
    • This is most useful if you choose to enter the Chancel before collecting all the orb pieces (which you may want to do in order to get the oil found there). Make sure the Grunt on the bridge has walked past the center, then move onto the bridge. This will trigger a flashback, allowing you to go to the left side safely and wait there for the Grunt to despawn.
      • This Grunt is active when entering the level, so it will likely have already made it across to the right side by the time you reach the top of the stairs. If you do not see it, it is likely in the room on the right, so you should go to the left immediately, close the door, and wait.
  • Memorize when and where enemies spawn. Some of the spawns can be avoided.
    • The Grunt in the Guest Room will only spawn if you approach the open wardrobe.
    • The Grunt behind the door in Storage will only spawn if you open the door. After getting the control rods, this door will open on its own and the Grunt will not spawn.
    • An additional Grunt will spawn in the first level of the Prison if you start back down the stairs after having gone more than halfway down either the hallway to the immediate right of the stairs or the hallway on its opposite side. Because of this, grab all the items you need before heading up the stairs.
    • Another Grunt will spawn if you enter the cell nearest to the one with the hole. The safest option is to ignore this cell entirely, but it is also one of the few locations where Oil and a tinderbox spawn on Hard Mode, so you may want to enter it if you need the items. If you choose to do so, shut the door quickly as you enter and immediately hide on the left side of the cell.
    • Do not visit the kitchen in the Prison until after you have gone down the stairs to the storage room. Entering before then causes a Grunt to spawn.
    • Also in the second level of the Prison, once you reach the top of the stairs to the left at the start of the level (the way forward to the storage room), do not go back down until after you have visited the storage room.
      • Do not pick up the diary entry in the cell at the end of the hallway or go to the very end of the long hallway near the exit. A Grunt will spawn in both of these situations.
      • Do not try to open the cell door on the left side of the hallway leading to the storage room. After you visit that room, the door will have opened and the Grunt inside the cell will not spawn.
    • Stay near the walls when returning from the brazen bull room in the Choir. This avoids a rather large script area that causes a Brute to spawn.
    • A second Brute will spawn in the Chancel if you assemble the orb before breaking the machinery.



The "Masochist" achievement

Beating Hard Mode will unlock the "Masochist" achievement. However, this mode affects the "Illuminatus" achievement, which cannot be earned in Hard Mode, as the mode removes most of the available tinderboxes. It does this dynamically on map load, which makes it impossible to collect anything close to the normal amount.


  • In Hard Mode, entering the Inner Sanctum fully restores Sanity. This is because the only way for the player to avoid hitting 0 sanity is by having more than 95 sanity at the start of the level. Without it, players would have needed to make sure their sanity stays high leading up to entering the Inner Sanctum. However, even if they did, there is no legitimate way for the player to know if their sanity is high enough to survive (having as low as 75 sanity is considered "Crystal clear"), so not having this sanity boost would be incredibly frustrating.
  • A line of commented-out code indicates that Gatherers were once planned to not make their distinctive growl when the player first gets near them.[2]
  • Due to the way Tinderboxes are removed, one will always leave Storage with eight Tinderboxes, if all of them in the level are found. Eight will be present if the player has none, seven if the player has one, and so on. Storage is the only level that this applies to, as all other levels lack the amount of Tinderboxes needed to replicate this sort of outcome.