I'll admit when I first played AMY I was tempted to chuck the controller into the screen. Between the instant deaths, lack of save points, and lack of direction it's easy to get frustrated with AMY and write it off as another game that failed to live up to expectations. It was only until about halfway through that I realized this game was doing exactly what it was intended to do – scare you to death.
Whether it's fear of dying, fear from the hallucination effects, or fear of possibly breaking your console out of frustration, AMY does the job. AMY is listed as a survival horror game and the game mechanics effectively – which I'm sure not were intentional or accident – make you want to survive.
The problem with many of today's games is lack of fear from dying. Think of all the survival games you play. What happens when you die? You respawn, usually at a very recent checkpoint. In AMY, it's the exact same – only the checkpoints are far and few between. If you die, which happens more than it should, odds are you're going to be starting from the beginning of the chapter. Some may call this bad design, others could call it “fear”. Either way, it's frustrating. But it's that exact frustration that makes successfully completing a chapter that much more satisfying.
I'm not going to beat around the bush. The game is tough, very tough. Combining puzzles, stealth, combat, escort missions, and psi-powers, AMY asks a lot from its players – and offers very little guide or direction in return. The game teaches you what to do by killing you. You will find yourself wondering what to do next, often times resulting in death once, twice, or maybe five times. Each time you will progress a little further.
The premise of the game is simple. It's Lana and Amy vs a world of deadly, freakish inhabitants. Use your survival instincts in a world overrun by monsters. Playing as Lana you will be tasked with collecting key cards to open locked doors, solve puzzles, and combat monsters. Throw Amy, a little girl with autism, into the mix and you suddenly have an added escort responsibility. There is a purpose to Amy, though. She not only keeps you safe from being infected, but also possesses supernatural abilities.
Controlling Amy can be a pain at times, but she listened to my commands for the most part. Managing her whereabouts is pretty important as she keeps you safe from the infection. You can keep track of her by holding her hand and issuing her simple commands. While some may find this tedious and annoying, I didn't mind.
There are times throughout the game where you will be split from Amy – either by choice or force. Some puzzles will require you to send Amy on a task like crawling through a small hole to unlock a door or flip a switch on the other side of the room. Other times she will be lost and the game becomes a race against the clock – as you are only minutes away from becoming infected.
Combat is pretty straight forward. Hold one button to be in an aggressive, combat stance and use another to either swing your weapon or evade. It's simplistic, sometimes clunky, but gets the job done. After all, AMY isn't an action game. And as a warning, sometimes it's just better to run and hide than try to fight.
With six levels, Amy is a pretty good length – especially for a downloadable title. Take into account the time it takes to figure out what to do, the dying and replaying, and you've got a pretty lengthy game – especially for the price.
Don't expect much in terms of graphics. They are very rough. The cutscenes are almost unbearable. Between the bad lip synching and poor animation it's almost better to just skip them. But not everything is bad. When you are infected, the hallucinations can get pretty trippy at times. It really makes you feel like you are losing your mind – which you very well could be from all of the deaths. The sound effects also do a great job capturing that eery feeling.
AMY is far from perfect, but it is also far from unplayable. What it does bad in one area, it usually makes up for in another. Could it have used some more check points? Definitely – especially if death is your main teaching method. If you can look past the rough edges of the game, you might find enjoyment in the game. If you lack patience and hate the fact you will be playing the same chapter multiple times, then AMY might not be for you. If you are looking for a horror game, then look elsewhere as the only fear I had was of death.
With a few patches and tweaks, AMY could be a great game. In its current state, it's playable, but not as enjoyable as it could be.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]