games / Reviews

Amy (Xbox Live Arcade) Review

January 17, 2012 | Posted by Todd Vote


Title: Amy
Publisher: Lexis Numerique
Developer: Vector Cell
Genre: Survival-Horror
Players: 1
Rated: M for Mature

Amy was a game that had so much potential, especially as a download only title. Unfortunately, what we got was what seemed like an unfinished product. It was a game full on interesting ideas, and a unique concept on the escort gameplay. Us the one you are escorting to your advantage, unlocking new abilities as you go. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad that is on display in Amy.

The game starts with a cut-scene, and immediately there are problems on display. The game starts and stops, lags behind, and cuts out dialog, in the cut-scenes. Picture playing a multiplayer game with a horrible internet connection, and you have an idea of what is going on already with this game. After the opening cut-scene, we learn that you are escorting a young girl named Amy somewhere, and that Amy is a special child. Off in the distance, there is an explosion, and we are off to the races.


Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon.

The player takes control of Lana, and charges you with finding and protecting Amy, while trying to navigate your way to safety. Oh, you have to do this while avoiding zombie like creatures that may show up sparingly. That is the basic premise of the game. The problems start to arise once you make your way past the first chapter.

The controls are not as responsive as one would hope them to be. I’d go so far as to compare the way Lana moves to the way the protagonists used to move around on the very first resident evil game, very robotic. Getting Lana to move where you want, and do the things you want her to do can get to be quite a chore. Moving gracefully is not one of her strong suits, it would seem.

Lana can pick up sticks and things to use as weapons, you swing the weapons by holding the left trigger, and pushing the ‘X’ button. To avoid an incoming attack, while still holding the left trigger, you push the ‘B’ button. While being simple enough, the actions on screen are not very responsive of your controller inputs at times. When they do work, actually hitting an enemy becomes somewhat problematic, as the collision detection on this game is atrocious. Swinging at the zombie attackers can get you killed in quite a hurry. I did find the dodge to be slightly more effective, but that kind of flies out the window when your attacks aren’t connecting to their intended target.


Swing, and a miss!

I mentioned how Lana can pick up a weapon off the ground. She can pick up other stuff as well, newspaper clippings to fill in the story, clues as to where Amy might be hiding, as well as antidotes for whatever is turning people into zombies. Again there arises a problem with the controls. If you want to look at these things, or pick these things up, you had better be looking at the exact right spot, or be stopped exactly where you need to be in order to make it happen. You do so with the ‘A’ button, and it will pop up briefly on screen when you are in the right spot, but take one step to far and try to find it again.

The absolute worst aspect of this game, for me, was the checkpoint system. The checkpoint system is completely ridiculous. Checkpoints are very few and far between, and usually only after you have done several things. What this means for you is die at any time during the long sequence of finding stuff, and boom, you get to start all over again. That wouldn’t be so bad if death didn’t come so easy, and cheaply. There is a spot in chapter two where this really started to become a problem for me. I played for nearly a half an hour trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, because the game offers very little in the way of where to go, I finally figured it out, and right after, I died from being away from Amy for to long. Apparently, being away from Amy you grow increasingly infected, holding Amy’s hand will cure you of this. Guess what I had to do all over again! The checkpoint system makes Amy play like a bad point and click adventure. Trial and error is fine, but not when the trial consists of such a large sequence of events.

Amy does offer a few bright points. There are some interesting ideas at play. The idea of Amy having certain abilities, and you unlocking them as you go, is a good idea. Amy’s powers usually offer you a means to an end when it comes to progressing through the chapter. The problem here is figuring out what to use each one for. Again, the game only shows you what the ability is, and how to use it. It is up to you to figure out where you will need to use it. When I unlocked my first ability, the ability to create a bubble that would muffle all sound inside of it. I wasted it trying to figure out how it would help me get past the monster at the end of the hallway. Turns out, you use it to break a window without making any noise.


You got something on your face

One thing I do have to give credit for is the games ability to create an atmosphere in which you can feel the tension, and anticipation of what might be lurking around the corner. The backgrounds, and ambience leaves you with a sense of impending doom that is hard to create in today’s gaming world. Amy offered a few legitimate jumps early on. I just wish that everything else would have fell into place so you could enjoy the scares on offer. Unfortunately, the bad checkpoint system ended up leaving me still worried about dying, but more because of what I would have to replay than any sort of fear of what lies ahead.

Pros
+ Interesting ideas and gameplay concepts
+ Does a decent job of creating a spooky atmosphere

Cons
- Bad controls
- Frustrating checkpoint system
- choppy, laggy cut-scenes.

The 411:
Amy tries to offer something new. The good news is that it does introduce some new gameplay concepts that can be toyed with by developers. The bad news, the controls and gameplay are implemented in such a way the game will just leave you frustrated and angry.

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