Amy Review (PS3)

Having a kid hanging around your feet 24 hours a day can be mentally and physically draining (ask any parent) but cute little Amy is no bother at all. The 8-year-old freckled faced girl and star of her own video game can’t speak (or simply chooses not to) due to a severe case of autism, which immediately makes you feel a little bit sorry for her.

And while that certainly saves indie developer, VectorCell, money hiring a voice actor, it also means that players don’t have to put up with her high-pitched screams of horror or an irritating, squeaky-voiced lady speaking in a child’s voice for the duration of her eight hour survival ordeal.

As it happens, Amy’s innocence and vulnerability instantly creates a bond between the player and and makes for an excellent start to a game that demands you shelter and protect her from unearthly evils.

Though it’s Amy’s name boldly splashed across the game’s title screen, you don’t actual play as her but rather work with her in the guise of 28-year-old Lana, who is tasked with escorting the young girl through a disease-ridden town full of zombie-like creatures.

As the story goes, a comet has landed and global warming has caused disease to spread across the world. Inevitably, this means that the location of Silver City is pretty much deserted, with only violent, infected humans and a few survivors wandering around its abandoned warehouses, train stations and city streets.

Though VectorCell has done well to create that immediate connection between player and cute little Amy, the storyline falls apart and fails to gather pace, while the game’s setting, supposedly a 2034 city ravaged by an incident of cataclysmic proportions, feels more like a step back in time than a leap into the future due to its dated graphics and muddy textures.

Though the initial half-an-hour gameplay suggest that it may live up to some of the classic horror games that it obviously takes its inspiration from, like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, Amy really just boils down to one long escort mission where you’re tasked with solving some environment-based and logic-based puzzles to make it from one area to the next without getting infected by one of the many creatures that lurk around ever corner.

Gameplay ambles along at a painfully slow-pace, like the brain-dead, AI deficient creatures that wander the streets, while the lack of thrills or meaningful encounters makes for a dull experience. Amy relies heavily on a stealth mechanic, requiring players to sneak past infected spots and avoid confrontation rather than seek it. This slow-pace ends up sucking the very soul out of a game that promised so much from its initial encounter with Amy.

If you do decide to take the creatures head on, or have no choice, then the combat system barely holds-up, giving you just two options, to hit or to dodge – neither of which can be done with any degree of accuracy. Monsters fall to the ground like flimsy piñatas with absolutely no explanation of why they all of a sudden evaporate into thin air.

Frame-rate issues, animation glitches and poor hit detection makes combat a task you’ll want to avoid, but without brandishing your baseball bat and cracking some skulls things are even more dull as you meander around grimy locations hacking terminals and shifting boxes out the way to open up hidden passageways.

The one thing that does warrant praise about Amy’s gameplay is the way that VectorCell has at least attempted to introduce a new mechanic to the horror adventure genre, by constantly making you watch Amy’s back and ensure that she’s by your side as you creep past the infected. Poorly laid-out checkpoints serve to remind you that letting Amy get killed isn’t an option worth risking, though some of the puzzles where you use Amy are fairly well designed and provide moments of light entertainment.

Amy comes to you (if you’re lucky) when you call her and you can command her to climb through ventilation shafts and order her to press buttons to open doors so that you can progress through the levels. You work beside her throughout the game, but rarely do the puzzles take advantage of these decent mechanics, with mundane tasks – such as unlocking doors – repeating themselves so often that it just becomes annoying.

Amy’s major problem, however, is that it just isn’t scary. Though lighting effects are used fairly well to create some dingy-looking environments, the major threat in the game – the infected humans – just aren’t scary, while the lack of quality audio (apart from the sound of your own loud footsteps) ensures that there's rarely any moments where you’ll jump out of your skin.

Amy isn’t quite a total disaster, but it’s nonetheless extremely dull. VectorCell has created a character that you do empathise with, while the escort mechanic shows decent potential in this particular genre, but it’s failed on getting the basics right - the bread and butter ingredients needed to make any survival horror game worth playing.

We want to see enemies so scary that they make you want to stab them repeatedly even when they’re dead, we want to hear audio –screams in the night, yells of pain and children crying in the distance - to keep us totally on edge, and we at least want to experience the odd moment where we feel that our life is under serious threat. All these things are missing in Amy, and the result is, quite simply, boring.

Platforms Played: Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3



By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 25, 2012
Too bad, this one kinda seemed promising emotionally wise even though i usually dislike escort missions in games the most and zombies are slowly becoming passe.
By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Jan 25, 2012
aww man! had high hopes for this title