The problem with survival horror games is that the rules are always changing. The original Resident Evil is worlds away from Resident Evil 5, Silent Hill is always hit or miss, and Alan Wake wasn’t the success it was expected to be. But if a game can tap into all the right elements of other genre titles, incorporate them into a tightly wound horror experience, and scare players for the perfect length of time, we could be in for a great experience.
That’s what makes AMY compelling. Originally announced by Lexis Numérique as The Seventh Seal, AMY is a PSN downloadable survival horror game that borrows from others and makes the overall style unique. Perhaps the most integral part is the contribution of Paul Cuisset, the creator of Flashback. That creepy game was a precursor to other horror games, so Cuisset's input on the development of AMY should be fantastic.
We were shown only a small portion of the game: a ruined metro station of the Midwestern town of Silver City. It’s 2034, and a virus has overrun the city, affecting most people and leaving survivors in a state of shock. Players control Lana, a woman who has been infected with the disease. She has on her back a light meter, like in Dead Space, that indicates her infection status. Green is healthy, but the meter will turn yellow and red if she is attacked or enters an area with a particularly high infection rate. She’ll even become veiny and zombie-like the more she becomes ill. By increasing her infection, she can use its effects to solve puzzles. For example, if a group of zombies is blocking her path, she can exacerbate her infection and escape harm. However, stay infected too long, and Lana will die.
Accompanying Lana is the titular Amy. She’s a little girl who has some interesting abilities. First, she can heal Lana just by touch, and she holds a lantern that makes it easier to explore darkened environments. Unfortunately, the zombies want her more than anyone else, and it appears she’s got some hidden powers not immediately manifest. Lana can use Amy as bait to lure zombies into traps, but Amy (being a small child) will freak out after a period of time. The game itself is inspired by ICO, meaning Lana will be walking with the little girl for most of the game. Hand-holding at it’s best! Thankfully, Amy can't die--but she can get kidnapped. She can also climb into areas unavailable to Lana, so she’s more than a little useful.
One of the most interesting mechanics seen in the game occurs when Lana holds Amy’s hand. By pressing the R1 button, the controller vibrates to the beat of Amy’s heart. If her heart starts beating too fast, expect a monster to be lurking nearby. One of the methods of dealing with monsters is evocative of games like Clock Tower or Deadly Premonition. If one particularly huge beast is chasing Lana and Amy, they can hide in a nearby cupboard. The beast will stick around, so Lana will need to look at a conveniently placed mirror to see when the beast has vacated the area.
When AMY comes out later this year, players will get the full horror experience for about $12 and clocking in at six hours. As a downloadable title, it risks being passed over for bigger name games, but with a solid price point and decent visuals, AMY could be just the right game for those looking for some new spooks.