I remember the days following Resident Evil’s arrival on the scene, when developers were scrambling to get their own survival horror games on the shelves. There were some really bad games that came out of that era, and unfortunately, Amy reminds me of some of them. Having been tossed around for quite some time, this downloadable horror title has all the classic ideas in place along with some unique ones; it just fails to execute with any sense of competence. What we are left with is a game that feels like it really earned its price tag, and sadly friends, that is not a positive comment.
The title of the game comes from the name of the little girl your main character, Lana, is responsible for. The game starts off on a train bound for a new life, as Lana has rescued Amy from some sort of facility for children. You see, the biggest issue I had with the narrative is that it really doesn’t seem to care about telling you a compelling story. All of the pieces are here for an interesting plot to unfold, but instead, the game rarely clues you in to its agenda.
It also doesn’t help that the dialogue feels painfully generic and forced at times. If you are playing with subtitles, you will even notice that character names change and words start dropping out of sync as you progress. This shows a lack of care for the actual plot or the characters involved. The cut scenes also suffer from some horrendous slowdown at inopportune times. It all just feels thrown together and cheap. Combine all of this with the fact that your character, Lana, also never really seems to care too much about what is going on, and you have a very non-compelling story.
I could forgive the narrative if the game play were fleshed out. You remember how bad the dialogue was in Resident Evil, and look how well the package as a whole turned out. Well, Amy seems to falter in almost every category, and game play might be the biggest offender. As survival horror games go, all of the essentials are here. You control Lana who ends up in an infected train station. The world will slowly infect you, as well, when you are not in the vicinity of Amy. She has special powers that make her immune and also heal you when she is close.
As you can imagine, the portions with Amy have you solving puzzles by directing her to hack consoles or climb through small openings to new areas. You can also hide independently, as the game relies heavily on the stealth element when encountering some creatures. All of this is textbook survival horror, but the problem arises when you realize the game is just broken in too many areas for any of them to work.
If you can imagine fighting a game constantly, then you know what Amy is like to play. As I mentioned, the puzzle elements are pretty self-explanatory, and for the most part they work. Where the game breaks mostly are the fundamentals, first up: combat. Almost every survival horror game features some sort of combat, and Amy is no exception. You can grab one item (like a stick or board) to ward off enemies. The problem is that taking swings at them is entirely random. The hit detection is so bad that most of the time your attacks simply go right through them. The dodge mechanic is also a roll of the dice, only working part of the time.
However, the worst offender of all is the checkpoint system. The game sets intervals within the game from which you can continue. The problem is that a lot of what goes on here is trial and error, and the game never bothers to help you when you get stuck. Once you die for the 13th, 14th and 15th time in a row and have to repeat the last 45 minutes of game play, you will likely want to strangle the person who decided this system was a good idea. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most gamers that drop their hard-earned money on this title will likely never make it past the 3rd or 4th chapter, if they make it that far. It is that frustrating at times.
If there is one saving grace to the game, it’s the visuals. I remember seeing screens for the first time and being amazed that it was a downloadable title. A lot of that translates into the final version, but not without enough hiccups to drag down the experience. For starters, the aforementioned slowdown really takes you out of it. Some of the ’shock’ moments were ruined by the game completely freezing during them, draining out the tension. Also, the cut scenes are absolutely horrendous, almost like the game is running off of a disc, and the drive is struggling to keep up.
The sound is equally unimpressive, with the voice actors phoning in their performances. There are also plenty of hiccups with the script, as I mentioned earlier, with the subtitles. The music is decent enough, but nothing that will get your blood pumping like a good survival horror game should.
Amy is just a genuine disappointing affair with little to no redeeming qualities. I love survival horror games, and have put up with some true crap in my time, but this is nearly unplayable. Rarely does a game actually frustrate me to the point where I could not continue, but I won’t lie, I could not bring myself to finish this game. The frustrating checkpoints finally wore on my last nerve and the broken game play sealed the deal. There is nothing that could get me to come back to this atrocity, nor a price tag that I might deem it worth checking out for. Amy is definitely scary, but not in the way it intends to be.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.