AMY is the latest game from developer Lexis Numerique and is a survival horror game available on the PSN and XBLA services. AMY follows the story of Lana and a little girl named Amy. In the not-too-distant future, a comet strikes the Earth, releasing a deadly virus that infects humanity. You take on the role of Lana and you wake up amidst the chaos of the catastrophic event. You were on your way to escort Amy to a laboratory to get her some help, but just as you were getting close to your destination the comet hit, throwing everything to the wayside. It is now up to you to find a way out of the city and get Amy to safety. However, along the way you learn that there is much more to Amy than meets the eye.
At heart, AMY is a traditional survival horror game. Fans of the subgenre know that ammunition is going to be scarce, there are going to be hordes of enemies that you can’t always run through, and there will be very little health to go around, so go into this game knowing this too. This is not a game you can run-and-gun your way through and expect heads to roll, a la Resident Evil 5. If you want to be successful, you are going to have to carefully formulate a strategy to get through the levels. Making sure you know where you have to go, scouting areas for health power-ups and fresh weapons, and never taking on hordes of enemies are just some of the many gameplay strategies that are canon for traditional survival horror fans. If you expect and prepare to play a game similar to the original Resident Evil or Silent Hill games, you will find the game much more enjoyable right off the bat.
The story itself is mediocre when compared to other survival horror games of this generation, and we found it a little disjointed at times. When you are making a survival horror game, it is good form to keep details coming out slowly, but in the case of AMY it was too slow. When details were released they didn’t always connect to the last story element you received, which hurt the flow of the game. Characters were also introduced and dispatched quickly, so the emotional elements to the story were somewhat lost.
Unfortunately, a weak story isn’t the only thing that plagues AMY. There are a number of technical issues with the game, the most prevalent being slow-down. In almost every scene where Lana would strike an enemy, the game would freeze for a second or two while you heard what was going on. There were also delays when initiating actions such as climbing down a ladder or going from walking to running. These action delays were not as long as the combat delays, but they were noticeable enough to mention. Dodging and defense are also big issues. Lana is rather stiff and difficult to control, so getting her to jump out of the way of an attacking zombie requires more than just timing. Finding the zone you need to be in to avoid your enemy is touchy and getting Lana to go where you want her to go is hard too. These issues take the spice out of the combat and hurt the game overall.
There are silver linings to this dark cloud. The atmosphere surrounding AMY is great. The music and level design work well together and give the player the feeling of impending doom. The eerie, dark corridors and the moans of the infected built up plenty of tension and manage to give a decent scare on a number of occasions. We would certainly say that as far as the presentation is concerned, everything works and looks good. In addition to the presentation, we enjoyed the symbiotic relationship between Lana and Amy, and how both characters depended on each other to get out of the situation they were in. Lana would provide the strength to keep the world from hurting Amy, and Amy would provide the healing ability to keep Lana safe from the world. It was a very interesting dynamic.
Overall, AMY is a mixed bag. On one hand, you have a game that is presented very well – rich environments and a good soundtrack keep the game close to the roots of survival horror gaming. Just the fact that this is a traditional survival horror game is a rarity now and should be appreciated for that. On the other hand, there are plenty of technical issues that hold this game from reaching its full potential. Few problems are more frustrating than the slow-down and temporary mini-freezes found throughout the game. The controls don”t help the situation either and make the other issues stand out even more. It’s difficult to recommend this game to everyone, but we would say that if you are a traditional survival horror fan, you should give it a chance. Sure, there are drawbacks, but if you can appreciate the game for what it is and what it tries to do, you’ll be taken back to the days when survival horror games were king. If you don’t remember when these games were popular then you should look somewhere else for your next game to play.
This review is based on a review copy of the PS3 version of AMY provided by Lexis Numerique