Author: Heath Flor
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/Amy/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Amy is a third-person post-apocalyptic survival horror title published by Lexis Numerique and developed by VectorCell Studios, directed by the legendary French designer Paul Cuisset (Flashback series).
The game starts off with the protagonist Lana and her charge Amy on a train after escaping a warped medical research lab. It seems there's been some terrible experiments performed on the young girl during her stay at the facility. Lana doesn't seem to know the full extent of them, but Amy draws a disturbing image on her tablet just a few minutes before the train crashes into the Silver City depot.
When Lana wakes up, she finds the train empty except for a few creepy corpses littering the car. Amy has fled the scene, and now you must try to locate her amongst the wreckage. You quickly discover Silver City is not the safe haven you were hoping for as zombified citizens attempt to rip your throat open during your search.
Amy is a mentally challenged girl oblivious to the chaos around her. Your job is to escort her to safety, which is going to be a challenge considering the girl will run into the middle of a room full of zombies like they're handing out Halloween candy. Amy is the kind of girl you don't joke about playing in traffic, because in all likelihood, she has.
Even though Amy is dimwitted, she has super amazing psychic abilities which become active only after she draws a glyph on her tablet. She's also a whiz at cracking computer codes. Amy actually reminds me of Rain Man, only with a lot less personality.
Amy also has the ability to heal Lana and keep her immunized against the plague sweeping through the city. If you move too far away from Amy's presence you will slowly become infected, and eventually turn into a zombie; stepping in contaminated piles of waste and walking through air borne plague areas will speed up the process. You can combat it by jamming a needle in your neck -- the game's best animation.
The game is extremely dark, to the point I had to turn the Gamma correction up pretty high in order to see. Amy is equipped with a flashlight which helps quite a bit when she's around, but if you're all by yourself it can be extremely difficult to make out details, which quickly causes eye strain.
The graphics aren't meant to show off the prowess of the PS3 by any means, and there are plenty of clunky segments to be found. The frame rate drops frequently and causes lag in high traffic areas. Certain spots in the game provoke more stuttering than others, during which time you feel like someone accidentally sat on a remote control and put the game in slow motion.
Amy sports an over-the-shoulder view, though during tense moments it changes to a split-screen which will display the enemy's movements alongside your view. This can cause quite a headache as your field of vision is narrowed, and you can easily get caught on items scattered through out the level as you're rushing to find a hiding spot. Oh, and don't leave Amy behind as she's likely to stand there looking at the paint peeling on the walls rather than getting the hint danger is nearby.
Gameplay consists of stealth elements, combat, and puzzles, all while you try to get Amy to a safe location. Each of these elements are rather clumsily put together.
Stealth includes hiding while your enemy unconvincingly "searches" for you; sneaking by a zombie is quite easy, since apparently they can't see you as long as you're squatting, and the soldiers are too stupid to look under desks or in cabinets.
Puzzles mainly consist of running to point A, leaving Amy, running to point B, having Amy perform an action, running back to point A, grabbing Amy, and running back to point B to complete the puzzle. There are a few variations here, plus an encryption cracking game where you have to match the correct symbols in the correct order, and of course trying to find your way into locked corridors or rooms. The puzzles aren't hard at all. In fact, the most difficulty I had with them is trying to get Amy to do what I wanted her to. Having to run back and forth dragging Amy around like a rag doll only leads to frustration, and had me walking away cursing the game more than a handful of times.
There is no such thing as unarmed combat in Amy. You must fight the zombies with crowbars or pieces of wood you find discarded around the level, and not in convenient places. Weapons deteriorate when used, and you're limited to holding only one at a time.
The controls for Lana are tedious at best, requiring multiple inputs for running and attacking. She feels stiff and mechanical, much like a zombie lurching about on a lazy stroll through the park. Combined with the slow camera and the robotic movements, attacking an enemy feels more like you're swinging at a pinata while blindfolded. Unfortunately that's the best part about the controls, as controlling Amy's psychic powers will drive you absolutely mad with frustration.
Since Amy is not a controllable character, accessing her psychic wheel forces you into her perspective wherever she may be. Many times this causes you to be face-to-face with a wall or other object which blocks your view from the desired objective. Forcing Amy to stay in a location helps with the matter, but having to babysit gets old rather fast.
There is a little comedic relief, however. At one point you must shove Amy into little vent shafts to rifle through empty rooms; the animation of Lana squatting down and cramming the poor defenseless welt into the openings cracks me up every time.
Part of creating the atmosphere for a horror game is having spooky sounds, on which Amy does a pretty average job. There seemed to be some audio issues with a constant ticking in certain areas which drove me absolutely up the wall. I did find the whispering Lana hears as she is turning into a zombie slightly disturbing. At least it fits well into the setting.
The scariest parts of the whole game take place during the first chapter when you find a gentleman who assists you with locating Amy. Following behind you, he would suddenly shout over your shoulder during a moment when you're sneaking around. It startled the living hell out of me every time he did it, and made me want to turn around and punch him in the face. He didn't even have a loud voice during normal conversation, but the game cranked his volume up at the right moments to the point where I couldn't wear headphones without getting my ears blasted.
If you're looking for a game to make you cringe, Amy happens to fill the role. However, you're most likely to cringe from the terrible acting, shoddy controls, and mind numbing puzzles more than any type of horror element. As a budget title, you're getting what you pay for: a mediocre horror game with a slew of control problems, bad acting, and a vanilla zombie virus story. Even though the game is playable and okay in small doses, there's so many other options on the market right now, it's easy to forget about this game altogether. I must admit the most frightening part about playing Amy is discovering at the end there may be a possibility of a sequel.
Please do not redistribute or use this article in whole, or in part, for commercial purposes.