Review By James Cottee @ 12:06pm 23/01/12
AMY is a dreadful little game. The controls feel off, the graphics are dreary, the animation stutters and chokes, and the writing and voice-acting are laughably sub-standard. While AMY is a budget-priced download-only game, its creators have nevertheless done an impressive job of cramming as many unpleasant flaws as possible into such a tiny package – it's like a nutsack full of tumours.
You direct the protagonist, Lana, from a wonky over-the-shoulder perspective via a control scheme that does its darnedest to shatter your suspension of disbelief. For instance, it is not enough to tap X to lash out at a zombie with your cudgel. No, that would be too easy. Instead, you have to hold down the left trigger and then press X. Running requires two button presses, and sprinting requires three.
While Bethesda eventually figured out that weapon degradation is a pain in the bum and dumped it from Skyrim, VectorCell clearly missed that memo. In a game that has barely enough textures to stretch over its boxy surfaces, the designers took the time to ensure your limited arsenal would wear out with use.
The limited puzzle mechanics revolve around crate-pushing and child endangerment. Sometimes you'll come across an impassable door, at which point you'll have to cram your mentally disturbed under-aged sidekick through a ventilation duct to unlock it from the other side. The chemistry between the two is downright creepy, with all their animations stuck right at the bottom of the Uncanny Valley.
The zombie foes you face are particularly thick. The merest hint of blunt force trauma, and they disintegrate. But it needn't come to that, for if you crouch you can become completely invisible to them, even when they stand a foot or two away. This is hardly surprising, as much of the game space is pitch black, even with the gamma settings maxed-out.
All too often the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Early on, an off-putting racial stereotype NPC declares that you should follow him to escape the zombies. Then he just stands there, because his AI is only programmed to follow you. As luck would have it there isn't any real need for a guide in a strictly linear level, but it still breaks the illusion.
Every single thing the game tries to do it does badly, yet AMY 's greatest sin is its conceit. Clearly produced with an extremely limited kitty of development resources, its creators tried all the same to make a third-person survival-horror experience on a par with Resident Evil. They failed. Utterly. AMY only has the veneer of a Triple-A title, and only if you squint. A cynic might accuse its creators of trying to exploit gamers who are willing to take a punt on an interesting-looking unknown title – the 'ol bait-and-switch.
Whatever their motivations, the fact remains that between the booming indie scene and the bulging pre-owned bargain bins, there are plenty of better games out there. Hydrophobia: Prophecy offers a novel take on the genre, and nothing can beat Deadly Premonition for sheer brain-breaking insanity – it's so bad, it's good. But AMY is just bad, full stop. At 800 Microsoft points, it may look like a bargain. But all you get for the money is grief.