Amy User Review
...and regret it I did. After I got over the fact that I would probably have a headache for the entirety of the game because of the massive framerate drops, I finally got to see why Amy was so scared. No, it wasn’t because of the zombies (although they do terrify me because of additional framerate drops), it was the game itself.
The story is that you’re the mother of a girl named Amy who apparently is a mute and occasionally slips into a trance to draw horrific pictures, as do all deaf people. Lana, the mother and protagonist, is taking her back from a special psychiatric institution and wants to give Amy a normal life. Unfortunately, Amy will be far from living a normal life as the train they’re on crashes after they see an explosion in the distance. Now the duo must fight for their lives to survive, not only against zombies, being infected, and soldiers who want to kill them for no other reason than being in the quarantine zone, but also against awfully designed levels and broken mechanics.
The problem with the story and setting of the game is that what the developers set out to accomplish fail on all fronts. First, this game is not scary. The only attempts at trying to scare you occur when a computer or a door will suddenly shoot sparks and Lana will gasp. The fear factor lies in surprise gimmicks that do not scare let alone even surprise you because of how horribly timed they are. The only thing they contribute to are additional framerate drops, and that stops surprising you after the first 10 minutes of play. The other thing they try to scare you with is by making the game so very dark. So dark that in some instances you’ll be wondering if you’ve accidentally stepped into the nether regions of space.
Second, the relationship between Amy and Lana is underwhelming. The only snippets of actual emotion you get to see is when Amy successfully does something that Lana tells her to, and the game so kindly cuts in by showing a moment of her forcing a smile (without regards to if there is a man eating zombie chasing you). This is the only emotion you’ll find in this game, and even then, you’ll be straining your empathy to feel it. They attempted to make you really feel the need to be together by making your life depend on Amy, as if you wander too far from her you’ll die from the infection, but it just serves to add a whole new layer of annoyance.
Third, there is no immersion in the game. A game that is trying to sell itself on atmosphere should at least have some sort of semblance of immersion but there is none to be found here. You’re constantly reminded that this is a game by the limits that are imposed upon you. For example, you’ll have to hold Amy’s hand to take her with you (you can call her, but she only comes half the time) and if you brush up against the smallest of objects you’ll let go of her hand. This is annoying especially considering the fact that often times your life depends on whether or not you can successfully run with Amy while clasping her hand. To put it simply, frustration trumps any sort of immersion that might have potentially been there.
Before I go into any intricate details about the mechanics, let me tell you about the first 15 minutes of gameplay:
I feel my way through a dark train to find Amy, who decided to run away in fear from her only form of protection (ala me). I can’t leave the train because I need to equip myself with a weapon just in case I need protection. Fair enough. I grab a metal bar and trek out of the train. The game teaches me to fight, so I press square to hit my metal bar against a zombie-esque creature and he immediately falls to the ground and liquefies. Now I’m in a dark train station, and as I explore I’m rewarded with getting stuck in dark corners and having to feel my way out. Follow the lights, follow the lights...
After following the lights, I run into a talkative taxi driver who promises to help me find Amy. Together, we run back the way we came to get into a communications room but it’s locked! Luckily he has a DNA sampler in his pocket (as do we all), so we can scan for DNA and use it to unlock the door once we find the appropriate sample. Four red blips show up on my radar that I must go scan. The problem with this radar is it has no depth perception. It looks like it will, but as you get closer to an objective, it doesn’t get closer on your radar, even if you’re right beside it. If you’re right beside it, your radar just stops working. Apparently it was easier to do that than to actually program the red blip getting closer and closer. After I check all the red blips on my radar, I get to the last one only to realize that I only really had to get that one all along. Does this sound fun so far? Well it’s not, and this style pretty much continues throughout the entirety of the game, albeit with Amy once you find her, and with more intricately annoying puzzles.
The gameplay is awful. You’ll be praying to the powers that be that when you press a button, you’re actions actually work. You want to pick up something? You’d better be positioned perfectly over top of the item. You want to open a door? You had better have your body turned exactly into the correct position. You want to hit something? Well, the hit detection will have the last laugh on that one. You want to dodge? Yes, you’ll jump back, but you won’t have any idea where you are once the camera has its way with you.
And that’s the thing, if messing up in this game wasn’t so heavily penalized, these deficiencies might not be such a problem. However, Amy quite possibly has the worst checkpoint/saving system I’ve seen in any game. It has a checkpoint system, but they aren’t paced very well. Sometimes you’ll have to go back 30 minutes of play just because you had a cheap death. After dying one of these deaths, let me tell you, your motivation to continue will be sapped. The game claims to save automatically every chapter, but after I started chapter 2 I turned the game off only to turn it back on later and have to start from chapter 1 all over again. After that I didn’t turn off my PS3 until I was finished with the game.
Lana must work together with Amy to solve puzzles and progress through the game. Often times you will have to send Amy through a hole (which Lana could fit through too, but I guess she doesn’t want to rip her stockings any more) and get her to press a button. That’s pretty much the extent of what happens while doing this. Get Amy to hit a button, and then retrieve her. Sometimes you’ll get Amy to hack a terminal, and all you’ll end up doing is waiting around for her to finish. No minigame. Just wait 30 seconds for her to finish. I was kind of hoping elevator music would sound while waiting, as it would have fit the scene perfectly.
The only things that are remotely acceptable in this game are the graphics and sounds. I’m stretching what I define as acceptable because this is a downloadable game for a mere $10, so some shortcomings are allowed. The graphics look alright if you’re looking at them and not moving, but as soon as you start moving you’ll notice a lot of jagged edges combined with framerate drops. This is glaringly noticeable, and it’s really hard to get past this.
As for the sound, some of the music is passable, but most of it sounds like it’s from a cheesy 80’s horror flick. The actual sound effects themselves aren’t bad, and might actually be the best part of the game. The voice acting on the other hand ranges from mediocre to downright atrocious. This is all mixed and matched together to provide a less than average audio experience.
Amy is a game that has a great concept, but is poorly executed. As much as I wanted to see past the problems that mire this game, they are in your face all the time. It’s astonishing to see the wasted potential on a game that I thought was really going to do the survival/horror genre justice. Unfortunately, the only surviving you’ll be doing is seeing how long you can last before you bury this game for good. I wish I had heeded the advice of Amy’s terrified eyes and never touched this game.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.