Amanda the Adventurer Review – Can you say Rotting?

MANGLEDmaw Games comes out swinging with the debut of a terrifying horror game about a twisted children's cartoon.
Amanda The Adventurer Review
Image: MANGLEDmaw Games

If you’ve been anywhere in Youtube’s gaming section or peeking around the internet’s many horror fandoms, you’ve probably heard of Amanda the Adventurer in one way or another. This brand new indie horror game, as many indie horror games are known for doing lately, invades our familiar and comforting memories by taking something innocent from our childhood and twisting it into something nightmarish. For those who hate horror, I can only imagine the shock in seeing these ghoulish reimaginings of childhood favorites.

Sesame Street, Tickle-Me-Elmo/Toy Factories, Chuck E Cheese — None of these iconic stables of childhood have been safe from the creativity of some of indie horror’s biggest names lately. Now, Amanda the Adventurer joins the scene with an original twist of its own, turning Dora the Explorer and early childhood educational cartoons into a source of terror. I can only imagine what comes next; Paw Patrol? SpongeBob? Maybe the Berenstain Bears?

Amanda The Adventurer 3
Image: MANGLEDmaw Games

Jokes aside, Amanda the Adventurer uses a unique concept to convey some great scares. Developer MANGLEDmaw Games definitely used the whole watching old cartoons on VHS tapes to prey upon a sense of familiarity. The old, terrible, 1990s CGI animation was something I’m sure those of us who were familiar with cartoons of the recognize, and the relatability of the setting is what created the true horror for me.

Amanda the Adventurer doesn’t just prey upon nostalgia for some cheap scares, however. Alongside the game’s excellent atmosphere is a truly well-written story that had me, as an aspiring horror writer, gasping plenty of “oooooh”‘s, “whaaat”‘s and “noooo”‘s before it was through. Without spoiling it for you, Amanda the Adventurer tells the story of a family being torn apart (not literally) by a powerful corporation with sinister motives. Of angry and confused ghosts, striking back at the world that wronged them, and of a deep seeded conspiracy that’s up to you to unearth before it’s too late.

The game opens up with a letter written to you from your aunt Kate, a former librarian and, as you’ll soon find out, an investigator trying to discover the secret behind a string of missing children. As Kate explains in the letter, she’ll already be dead by the time you receive the letter, and she leaves you both her house and the contents of the attic. She implores you to continue her investigation and apologizes in advance if you meet the same unfortunate fate.

Amanda The Adventurer 2
Image: MANGLEDmaw Games

The atmosphere of the Kensdale home’s attic is dusty, and crowded, and serves the game’s horror incredibly well. You’re shut away from all modern appliances up here; No cellphone, no computer, and nothing but a medley of children’s toys and an old television to help you finish Aunt Kate’s investigation. If tight spaces do something for you, you’re gonna find Amanda the Adventurer pretty claustrophobic, because you don’t leave this attic at any point in the game.

Of course, that doesn’t mean other things can’t enter the attic, but try not to think about that too hard.

The game’s controls are incredibly simple. You move with WASD, interact with objects and menus with your mouse, and crouch with Ctrl. This is all you really need to interact with the attic and your main tool for solving the mystery, your VHS player / Television. While watching the many VHS copies of Amanda the Adventurer episodes, Amanda will sometimes prompt you to answer a question. You can then use your entire keyboard to answer, and there are a surprising amount of responses you can get from Amanda depending on what you say.

As you play the tapes and follow along with Amanda’s instructions, you’ll be introduced to a few creepy moments that’ll make you think “Wow, that really shouldn’t be in a children’s cartoon.” The real scares, however, come from disobeying Amanda. Repeatedly failing to do what she says will, at first, get you some snide comments, but will make Amanda progressively more and more upset until she starts lashing out in more horrifying ways. Eventually, you’ll feel pretty threatened by this cartoon child.

Amanda The Adventurer 1
Image: MANGLEDmaw Games

Each tape will have clues and codes hidden within that you can use in your environment to progress the game. These puzzles are short, and range from something as simple as baking an apple pie to inputting secret codes into a talking robot toy. It becomes immediately obvious that your environment is super haunted, and Amanda is leading you towards something — What, exactly, isn’t always so clear.

There is a surprising amount of hidden messages and puzzles only the observant player is going to unlock. As of now, there are five endings to Amanda the Adventurer that I know of, ranging from the simple and gory to the complicated and bittersweet. After your first ending, you’ll return to the attic with new tools available. so don’t start a new game after your first ending.

Amanda The Adventurer 4
Image: MANGLEDmaw Games

As you discover more about Amanda the Adventurer’s hidden story, the more questions you’ll find yourself having. The game seems to hint at a sequel in its two “true” endings, and I hope to see more from MANGLEDmaw Games on this series — The story is just too enthralling, just like Hameln’s cartoons.

The Final Word

Amanda the Adventurer is a clever little puzzle horror game with plenty of scares and a great story to tell. The tragic story behind this children’s cartoon is bound to keep you up at night, either with questions or a lingering anxiety about what’s behind your closet door.


Amanda the Adventurer was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Amanda the Adventurer is available on Steam.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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