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The Kaernk is a water-dwelling, otherworldly creature that is invisible to the naked human eye. Fortunately, it can be detected by the splashes it makes in the water as it "walks" in a slow, deliberate gait. A similar creature, the Failed Experiments, appears in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, although it is different in origin.


The Kaernk, as an invisible water-based enemy, threatens and pursues Daniel through the flooded areas of the game.


Kaernks, or the illusions of Kaernks, are encountered a total of six times throughout the game, three of which are purely visual encounters with no actual threat. They are encountered in the following locations (the dangerous encounters are in bold):

  • Laboratory (Visual) – Daniel can catch a glimpse of the creature early in the game as it splashes about below the grating on the floor.
  • Cellar Archives – The first dangerous encounter and the Kaernk's true introduction. This is one of the most dangerous monster encounters in the game, as Daniel must evade two of the creatures in immediate succession.
  • Archive Tunnels – In a chase to exit the area, the Kaernk is slower than the first. However, hiding on boxes will not work, as it will easily reach and inflict serious damage. Daniel must either run all the time and quickly open doors or slow it down by closing doors behind him in order to outrun it.
  • Cistern – Much later in the game, it is encountered for a fourth time, in the Cistern. If Daniel's sanity is high enough, he will only hear the Kaernk growl and occasionally splash in the water as he turns the valves, but the creature will not actually pursue or attack him, making it seem like a hallucination. However, if Daniel's sanity is lower than "Crystal clear", the Kaernk will actually appear in the water when approaching the entrance after the last valve is turned, along with the Shadow's fleshy residue. It is a far less dangerous encounter here though, as Daniel can use the many walkways to easily avoid contact with the creature.
  • Sewer (Visual) – Daniel may also "see" a Kaernk splashing towards him in the sewers but it cannot damage him.
  • Sewer (Aural) – As Daniel explores the Sewer, he may come across a passageway that the Shadow has collapsed completely. Once there, he can hear the watery predator growl. It seems that the Kaernk is trapped in the rubble from this recent cave-in as it is unable to enter the area and attack him.
  • Cells – Two final encounters occur during the quest to recreate Agrippa's Potion, during which Daniel encountered a well-dwelling Kaernk. To obtain a sample of Tampter, Daniel lowers a haunch of meat into the well and allows the Kaernk to feast on it. If Daniel did not do this at the first well, he would have to do so at the second well located near the Cells.
    • While the Kaernks in the wells are not by themselves dangerous, falling into a Kaernk-containing well is fatal.


The black death screen says, "Keep out of the water..

The most common death-hint shown after dying to a Kaernk.

The Kaernk is only capable of attacking things that wander into the shallow pools that it inhabits. However, what it lacks in reach it makes up for with its invisibility. Daniel can only see where the monster is by the loud splashing noises, the splashes it makes when moving, and the banging it makes on doors when trying to break them down.

When hunting, a Kaernk only reacts to movements in the water. It does not differentiate between living beings and objects before starting to pursue them. However, when it reaches the source of movement in the water, it is able to distinguish an ordinary object from food. However, if any meat is thrown into the water, such as severed body parts, the monster will pursue and devour the meat, buying Daniel a short amount of time to move in the water unharmed. If Daniel does not disturb the water after throwing an edible object, the Kaernk will return to where it was after it has finished eating, whereas if a book is thrown the creature will remain where it landed.

Note that the player or an object entering the water will always cause the Kaernk to approach it, except while it is eating. Because of this, it is only safe to move through the water while the Kaernk is chowing down, not before.


The player can also use a "run and jump" strategy to slow down the Kaernk while in water, although it is always safer to jump on a box or crate.


Physical appearance[]

The Kaernk is completely invisible, except for the effects of its movement, and as such has virtually no physical appearance to speak of. From its movement patterns in the water, however, it seems clearly bipedal.


The Kaernk has little personality to speak of. It seems animalistic and single-minded, only desiring to feed on flesh. It only makes guttural roars when it hunts and splashes as it moves. Its single-mindedness means it's easily distracted by splashing objects and especially by food.


Kaernks may have the lowest intelligence of all the monsters in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, as they most easily distracted and do not apparently receive orders from Alexander, but instead only colonize new areas and hunt prey, more like predatory animals. They do not speak intelligibly, so the complexity of their thoughts, perceptions, or society are unknown.

However, they do not care about Daniel when he is not physically in water. Plus, when even an inert object is thrown into the water, they will always investigate it and remain nearby the object, no matter how many times this tactic is repeated to escape them. This shows a lack of pattern recognition below even some invertebrate animals (e.g. octopuses, bees).


Originating from the same world as Alexander of Brennenburg, this aquatic nightmare was supplied to the Baron by Johann Weyer as its saliva contained Tampter, an ingredient for a tonic to release Agrippa without killing him.[1] Several water monsters were safely contained within wells in the depths of Brennenburg Castle. However, as the events of Amnesia: The Dark Descent unfold, the Shadow following Daniel consumed room after room, until it caused structural failures that allowed the deadly Kaernk to escape.


  • The internal name of the creature during its development at Frictional Games was the "Water Lurker." Mikael Hedberg, the writer for Amnesia: The Dark Descent, was responsible for inventing a less awkward, in-universe name, and he settled on naming it the "Kaernk."[2]
    • The Kaernk was nicknamed "Lurky" by Frictional employees.[3]
    • The word Kaernk is an anagram of "Kraken," the name of a giant squid in Norse folklore. This may or may not have been intentional.
  • The Kaernk is the only monster/creature in the game that can be "killed", specifically by smashing a large barrel or crate on top of it. This will stop the Kaernk activity, and leave what might be blood in the water. This fact alone makes it the least dangerous monster in Amnesia series. This was an unintentional on the part of Frictional developers, most likely a bug, which surprised Thomas Grip when he heard about it in a 2019 interview.[2]
  • The inability to distinguish Daniel from simple objects makes it possible that Kaernks are unable to see what is above the surface of the water or that they are completely blind.
  • Even though it's invisible, directly looking at a Kaernk can drain sanity.
  • Developer commentary by Thomas Grip reveals that the Kaernk was slightly inspired by his favorite childhood movie, Tremors.[3]
  • The in-game model of the Kaernk is a sphere.[2]
    • One piece of art was long supposed by fans to be official concept art depicting the Kaernk, but in an interview with Thomas Grip, he said that this art was not official and that there was no official concepts of the Kaernk.[2]
  • If standing on a small box in the second part of the cellar archives, the Kaernk may push away the box and make Daniel fall into the water.
  • The Kaernk's hissing and defined roars are similar to those of an alligator or a snake.
  • It usually cannot reach Daniel if he's standing on a box, even if only a few inches above the water level. However, if Daniel stands too close to the edge of a partially-submerged box he's on top of, the monster may successfully attack and injure him.
  • The Kaernk in the Archive Tunnels is stronger and slower than the ones in the Cellar Archives, indicating greater size to go with its greater power.
  • Although their homeworld is likely the Other World,[1] they were not encountered by the player in Amnesia: Rebirth when Tasi Trianon travelled to the Other World. This most likely means that they have become extinct, since this civilization has faced utter destruction due to Kita's failed assassination attempt, or that they are not from Empress Tihana’s realm.[speculation]
  • The Kaernk was intended to appear in the Justine expansion, but was cut.[citation needed]
  • The Kaernk's behavior is referenced with Specimen 13's chases in Spooky's Jumpscare Mansion, a different horror game.
  • Drinking water (or a variation of it) in the Other World will cause those that drink it to undergo a gruesome transformation. This may be the reason for the Kaernk's hostile nature.




  1. 1.0 1.1 Agrippa Channels Weyer (TDD): "Tampter on the other hand will prove more difficult. I don't think it exists in this world. Simply writing the word with these letters looks wrong. I believe it's a property of the secretion in the water dwelling Kaernk."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 McCarthy, Caty. "Monster of the Week: How Amnesia: The Dark Descent's Water Lurker Became the Scariest Nautical Nightmare Since Jaws." Accessed 25 October 2023. Last revised 28 October 2019. VG247, Gamer Network Limited.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Developer Commentary: "The Lurker Hears!". Grip, Thomas. Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional Games, 2010, "Thomas Grip - The lurker hears!.ogg".