Published on January 30th, 2012 | by Davis Fan0
[Game Review] AMY (PS3)
Summary: AMY is everything that an indie title shouldn’t be – it’s marred by lazy design decisions, clunky controls, and wasted potential. Gamers who want to test the legitimacy of reviewers’ scores or are drawn into the title by its premise and graphics are highly discouraged from even touching the title.
When AMY publisher Lexis Numerique surveyed gamers to find out how much they wanted the game to cost, I initially applauded their efforts. It was refreshing, though perhaps a bit suspect and odd, to see a publisher price their game based on consumer demand rather than an amount to maximize profits. As the reviews trickled in and I had tried AMY myself though, I realized it wasn’t so much an attempt to democratize pricingas much as it was an attempt to get the few extra bucks the game could net them.
The story starts off on a train where players control Lana, who has just helped Amy escape from some sort of lab. Suddenly, the train’s attendant knocks Lana out and by the time she recovers, she finds that they have crashed into a train station and Amy is missing. With that, players begin their quest to find and keep Amy safe. For much of the game, the narrative focuses on this goal rather than any real motivation to find her. Even if the game were more exciting to play, I would have felt little drive to look for the girl. But I suppose the fact that she was a young girl was reason enough for the writer.
Conceptually, AMY had a lot going for it. Instead of limiting players to the usual healing items or automatic regeneration found in most games, Lana could cure her infection level through being close with Amy,who is immune to the monsters’ disease. In addition, Amy could be commanded to complete certain tasks that Lana couldn’t do. However, the execution of it all is shoddy at best. Amy, along with other NPCs, are prone to walking into walls, disobeying the occasional order, or simply being a hindrance as players walk. At least the collision detection works fine.
Most frustrating of all in this game are the combat mechanics and controls. Understandably, Lana isn’t trained for combat and could only wield the occasional wooden stick, but her limitation to either swing or dodge only makes for repetition. Even the protagonists in Silent Hill know how to pull a trigger. The uncooperative camera hinders players even moreso than Lana’s own inability to fight, often placing enemies in blindspots and a prime location to ambush players or perhaps eluding players as to whether the monster has died yet. Other games that feature a powerless protagonist feel challenging; AMY challenges players to not destroy their controllers in rage. Sparse checkpoints will annoy players even further, forcing them to replay large segments from untimely, accidental deaths.
Upon first impression, the game looks like a treat, especially at the $15 pricetag. As players spend more time with AMY though, the blemishes will soon become noticeable. Once players take control of Lana and command her to run out of the train, they will notice the game’s extremely choppy frame rate. It’s as though the game decides to skip a beat with every couple of steps Lana takes, a problem that is only exacerbated during fights. Design-wise, the game is so dark that it actually affects gameplay. Without any reliable radar and only vague visual cues to go on, I frequently ran into invisible walls that should have never existed – wide gaps that couldn’t be crossed and sizeable crevasses that Lana just seemed too elegant to crawl through. Any spaciousness that these visual elements create quickly disappears.
AMY is everything that an indie title shouldn’t be – it’s marred by lazy design decisions, clunky controls, and wasted potential. Gamers who want to test the legitimacy of reviewers’ scores or are drawn into the title by its premise and graphics are highly discouraged from even touching the title. The game’s problems are simply too numerous and rooted in design for them to ever be patched up, making it hardly worth a purchase.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Lexis Numerique; Developer: VectorCell; Players: 1; Released: January 17, 2012; ESRB: Mature; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.