A digital nightmare
Ho ho, you rascals at Vectorcell, trying to alter my psychopathic hermit perspective of humanity. I frequently rage at A.I. partners, usually for around about 27 minutes before grabbing their metaphorical leash, Indy-whipping a high structure and watching them suffocate to make up for the mental anguish I’ve just been through. Amy, however, is an 8 year old challenged child, and not only can I not lose my rag with her for moral principles, she actually does exactly what I tell her to. Although if I was trapped in a world as shoddy as this one, I’d be nothing more than a puppet begging for help myself… Amy has been cradled with tepid hype over the past few months, building upon a damn respectable formula of Ico + zombies. Taking care of Amy is Lana, a woman trying to get the gifted young girl as far away from a sinister corporation as possible. Unfortunately, what lies between them and safety is legions of ravenous undead and mercenaries…and glitches…and screen tear…and a camera latched to a bloody gnat…and the overwhelming feeling of being trapped in purgatory from beginning to end. Before these horrid realisations entered my brain, I had set my hopes high as I pressed start. And then the young girl did an unsettling scribble of events to come, with a monster ravaging corpses drowning in pools of blood. And I winced. And then I met an Italian ‘mob-a-like’ whom impaled himself on every cliché he could find, replacing all the s’s in his dialogue with z’s. And I wept as the game decided to take a slow-motion tumble into a vat of boiling tears, piercing its eyes on 5 million rusty hooks on the way. The premise of a woman looking after a young girl during such a crisis is an interesting one, and an emotional tie that has been heavily emphasised during previews. But as you peel away the blurb, an abstract jumble of concepts fall at your feat. There’s something about human testing, there’s something about global warming, there’s something about religious doomsday theories, but they’re all subjects that have been covered before that are now simply glossed over. No concept is truly focused on and explored to any depth, and thanks to the rather cretinous characters there really is no desire to do so. It’s all very well attempting to reflect on social-crisis in these kinds of titles, but Amy would read out like a script written by George Romero with the crayons taken from up his nose.
Every con is plain unforgivable, taking all the worst parts of 90’s survival horror titles and amplifying them until the game goes beyond parody
Amy is supposedly a stealth game, but I’m not sure if that’s at its heart or just a unsuccessful attempt to try and detract you from combat. Unfortunately there will be a time where lead will have to meet skull, and bloody hell it’s a bigger mess than a pile of vomited road kill. It should all be rather simple, with square for attack and circle for dodging, but bloody nora, some horribly terrible game design over-complicates matters. Sometimes Lana’s weapon will disappear. Sometimes zombies will turn out to be ghosts with weapons going straight through them. Sometimes there would be 5 inches of air between you and a zombie strike…and the rapidly increased speed of that air would damage you. EVERY time you got a consecutive hit on an enemy, the camera angle would do a full 90 degrees turn to catch a glimpse of your blood coated self, completely screwing up perspective and leaving you open for air based attack. These were the most common faults found in combat, and one, if not all, crop up in each encounter you come across. Thanks to constantly juttering frame rates, enemies always seem to have an upper-hand on you, berating your crap timing before plummeting you to death. It is absolutely ridiculously unfair, and in design terms just plain unforgivable. On top of dealing with this horribly twisted world, you’ll have to take care of Amy, a speechless kid who’s slowly developing psychic skills. I can’t have a go at the kid as the poor game mechanics are once again to blame with her inability to hold hands in enclosed spaces whilst snagging on tables and doorframes. Her psychic abilities are cool and all, but in order to direct them you’ll need to use the six axis controller to bump them into enemies, and that’s just as bloody bad as attempting to even control Lana with the joystick. Amy has also developed an immunity to virus, halting contamination should Lana keep close. Fortunately, she is very good as listening to commands, and therefore won’t run up to hug a jawless monstrosity before being claimed as a snack. It does seem that the emphasis on both character and brain development has been shone upon Amy, and although I can see why, it does leave you, as Lana, dwindling with the survival instincts of a crash test dummy. Succumbing to contamination can lead to positives, your zombie like appearance means you can sneak through enemies a la Shaun Of The Dead. It’s something of a double-edged sword, however,with the side towards you heavily weighted to ensure a nice slicing of the skull. Infection can occasionally kill you at different rates thanks to-once again-glitchy design, and terribly unfair fight animations can also lend to a pile of unwanted Lana corpses…and wasted hours. Perhaps the most unrelenting feature for death, however, are the checkpoints, or the lack thereof. It’s not hard to figure out what to do to survive a level, but thanks to the overwhelmingly huge design flaws, you’ll be dying a lot. Apparently checkpoints are rather expensive to set up, so Amy has diligently gotten rid of a vast majority, allowing for only a couple or so per level. As the game plods along at such an annoyingly slow pace, you will find yourself retracing vast parts of levels that shouldn’t feel vast at all. Succumb to poor production values and you’ll wince in pain as you realise you must wander the same grey corridors for the billionth time. Quit near the end of a level to have lunch, and you’ll have to start at the beginning of that very level the next time you play. If the game was well made, then I’d stop my whining and pay its dues for being hard. However, it relishes in the fact that it’s a lazily unfair piece of work, which begs the questions as to why you should even stay for the end credits other than to add people to your assassination list. There are positives around here somewhere, whether you have enough patience to get to them is another matter. The penultimate level works fantastically well, even if it was photo-copying the textbook of Forbidden Siren. Relying pretty much entirely on stealth and less on any vaguely complex gameplay involving the pressing of buttons, I actually started to feel the grisly charm the game was meant to flaunt from the start. I genuinely got extremely protective over young Amy as I dodged enemy eyesight, and didn’t want to leave her alone not because of my general well-being, but because of hers. Of course it wasn’t long till everything went to pot and the game decided to chuck in 3 enemies to fight at once along with those too familiar mechanical faux pas, but it was nice to have a breath of fresh air in a game with the distinct odour of Jaba the Hutt’s armpit. I didn’t want to pan this game. I really did want to love it. I still want to take the premise under my wing and nurse it back to health, claiming it has nothing to regret. But Amy does so many things wrong it’s hard to believe it was even released in the 21st century. Every con is plain unforgivable, taking all the worst parts of 90’s survival horror titles and amplifies them until the game goes beyond parody. Its horrid stuttering framerates and peculiarly shoddy combat make it look like you’re cycling through a flick book of a terrible Stephen King novel illustrated by an epileptic chimp. It’s that partner in a team based trust exercise that not only lets you fall to the floor on the count of three, but leaves you to drop into a pit of glass shards and diarrhoea. Amy is possibly already the biggest disappointment of the year, and the biggest insult to injury it makes is the damage it does to your wallet. Buy a broken game from a retail store and you’ll be swift to return it. Shame the digital marketplace doesn’t exactly work the same.
The Bad: Terrible production values destroy every aspect of this game, Has taken the worst aspects of video games from the early 90’s and done nothing to improve upon them, Bewilderingly story that no one can truly care for, Lack of checkpoints add to the already repetitive gameplay, Soundtrack plays the same admittedly creepy track for every level, Awful voiceovers, Simple puzzles, Combat sections are shockingly terrible