AMY, a PlayStation Network Game Review

This survival-horror PlayStation Network game follows three protagonist characters fighting to survive the effects of a mysterious comet impact makes the Midwest an awful place in year 2034.

The Hype

The highly anticipated survival horror title AMY is available worldwide on Xbox® Live Arcade for 800 MS points and the PlayStation™ Network for $9.99. Amy is also available on the PlayStation™ Network in Europe for €9.99, in the UK for £7.99, in Australia for AUD 15.95 and in New Zealand for NZD 18.90.

AMY takes place in December 2034 in the small town of Silver City (Midwest, USA) after a comet strikes, wreaking havoc on humanity and unleashing a deadly virus that has infected almost everyone. Players take on the role of Lana, who regains consciousness in the midst of all the mayhem.  The world she once identified with seems to have been torn to Hell, and most of the people she knew have now become part of a wild horde. Lana feels the virus beginning to infect her and knows she must run as far as possible to escape the nightmare. The presence of the titular Amy, a seemingly defenseless eight-year-old autistic girl who has curious powers, forces her to make choices that will affect both their lives. Together, they must fight or run from the infected humans, demons and the military, in the hope of not only saving each other, but also the future of humanity

AMY was developed by VectorCell studios under the supervision of Paul Cuisset – the French creator of legendary games such as Flashback and the series Moto Racers – and published by Lexis Numérique.

“AMY is an attempt to bring innovation in the horror genre and a way to reach a wider audience than the mere survival horror fans,” said Paul Cuisset.

“AMY might be one of most ambitious digital console games to date, and we are really happy with our partnership with Paul Cuisset and VectorCell,” said José Sanchis, CEO of Lexis Numérique.

The Reality

This PlayStation Network exclusive game makes surviving among horrific situations a group activity. Lana and Amy are the main playable characters while a taxi driver named Marcello tags along. Lana initially seems relatively normal and serves as Amy’s guardian in this post apocalyptic future. After the comet crashes into Earth, a mysterious disease infects citizens everywhere giving them homicidal tendencies. Even more background and establishing cutscenes would have been great.

Game developers provide some foreshadowing here as a special facility spokesman promises to offer Amy the very best resources. Lana and Amy ride are riding a train to this facility when the event occurs. In the aftermath, Lana encounters Marcello who assists her as she searches for Amy – an extraordinary, mute girl who has unique abilities that are very useful in this morbid situation. Amy’s character development centers on these abilities while Marcello plays a decent “third wheel”. He knows “connected” people. He provides key information to Lana…and he panics and screams when things go south.

Players can make Lana, the main playable character, run at any speed, but there are consequences when she strays from the trio. For example, leave little Amy behind and the game ends. This often tense, multitasking challenge warrants an easy difficulty level for average players in this genre. This running mechanic uses the L1 button then the square button with no fatigue. Navigation can be difficult unless player have more lighting. It is easy to get caught on benches and other objects on the ground.

Checkpoints are rare events in this challenging six-chapter game and can be unforgiving when making mistakes. Single hit deaths also present an intimidating challenge. So how can player counter these challenges? Some “killer” apps, abilities or weapons would have been nice. Players get some nice advantages, but must still tread softly to avoid too much “trail-and-error” gameplay, which does not always strike the right tone for an experience marketed as a visceral survival-horror game. Developers provide a meter on Lana’s back for the progressing rate of infection instead of a health bar.

Vague elements add to mystery, but players often feel at the total mercy of the game, which garners some frustration. Gameplay occurs naturally tends as enemies swarm you, but the movement controls could have been smoother.  Survival is key in combat while item collection and some puzzles can frustrate without some work.

The puzzle challenges provide engaging mental challenges that provide some nice variety. One particular challenge requires cycling through visual icons to unlock an access code. Developers change this challenge each time so the solution never repeats.

Players can see items just fine, but have to find a “sweet spot” placement to grab them, so search for them after the action aftermath or when things are relatively calm to avoid frustration. In one frustrating item collection example, using a DNA scanner involves some backtracking unless players find the right DNA sample usually from “zombie-like bums” just sitting on the ground. The trial-and-error method cannot be avoided here, which adds to the length of time it takes to complete each chapter. Alternate solutions to essential item collection tasks would have been nice.

Developers make some nice co-op puzzle solving scenarios for Lana and Amy though some missions repeat too much, especially getting into security rooms to open doors, grab necessary items, etc. The smaller Amy has a summoning control by Lana as well as shape button controls guiding Amy through small openings and other access areas. Lana can also hold Amy’s hand of Amy to judge nearby threats and guide her through this horrific world wonderfully enhanced by the strong visuals.

The impressive graphics and sound are full of detail and not too big, which helps navigation overall. Players can still get caught on annoying benches or other objects when moving, so set the lightness up a bit. There are no major clipping issues, but a nice buffer zone to encounter enemies with smooth controls or even a lock-on feature would help players properly align characters with enemies in the combat fights.

A creepy siren sound is the audio highlight for sure. The attack hits have a very satisfying sound. The DualShock controller vibrations enhance the decent scares, but the “on-the-rails” camera mechanics limit the views to movement, which consists of one analog stick. The missions and various tasks have no time limits, which adds to the realism. No one looks at their watch when they are fighting for their life.

Review: Amy

Where to Buy: PlayStation Store and Xbox Live

Price: $9.99 and 800 MS points

What I Like:  deep visuals, affordable price, high challenge, rare responsibility for child character, no time limits, no running fatigue

What Needs Improvement: more initial background story elements, low save/checkpoint frequency, movement/fighting controls, more intuitive gameplay and navigation elements, alternate solutions to essential item collection tasks

Source: Copy provided by publisher

Categories: Gaming, Reviews

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