Today at E3 one of my highlight appointments was with Lexis Numerique for their survival horror game Amy. Amy features two main protagonist characters, but they interact with each other and are not independently playable characters. At any rate, I went on an in-depth tour of the world of Amy, and I'm going to explain it to you anyway.
Amy takes place in the near future, when a young woman named Lana meets a mute girl named Amy on a train. The train is attacked by unknown zombie-esque assailants, and Lana is knocked unconscious. During the attack, Lana is also injured and infected with this virus which will effect her over the course of the game. When Lana wakes up, little Amy has run off and you have to find her - not just for her safety, but her own internal survival.
Players take over the role of Lana and have to not only survive the vicious zombie-style monsters, but your own infection spreading through you. You have a color-coded infection meter strapped to your back which changes color as you become more dangerously infected. Fortunately, simply being in the presence of Amy will heal you somewhat - but you're not really ever cured during the game.
As you are exposed to additional infection through eerily red, misty areas, your appearance also changes. You change from a beautiful young woman to a black-veined, white-eyed, skin-rotten monster. This change looks impressive, and is eerie in a very interesting way.
This infected state can also help you, though. You'll reach areas teaming with enemies that you'll probably want to stealth-through. Zombie-monsters don't attack other zombie-monsters, so appearing to be one of them benefits you if you wish to avoid conflict - but you have to be careful. Too much infection and you outright "turn" and lose control of Lana, ending the game.
Since Amy wasn't a playable character, I was curious what her purpose was. I mean, she's a mute, defenseless child in a horror-world, why worry about her at all? Well, to start off she has some interesting game-powers that benefit the main character, including healing to restore Lana's infection level, and a very innovative controller feedback system that alerts you to impending enemies.
"Do you remember the radio static in the original Silent Hill?" he asked me as he handed me the controller. "Yes?"I replied apprehensively, expecting a clone rip-off. But no, that question was just a frame of reference. As I walked with Lana, holding hands with Amy to keep her close, the controller began to tremble. Slight at first, but more intense as I approached a large glass window - an enemy standing behind the window, ready to eat Lana's face.
This system is important not only to warn the character of impending doom, or make sure your weapons are up for the task (weapons degrade as you use them), but also to give you an opportunity to hide defenseless little Amy. You can hide with her, ask her to hide (or she'll do it on her own when the scary things get too intense), or even put her in a dangerous situation so you can flank the enemies to gain combat advantage.
Amy will also hint at puzzles or destructable environments for Lana to use to advance in the story, but since she can't tell you it's a very subtle hint system that really only activates if Amy wanders off and stares at something. In a relatively open-world survival horror, this can be a handy gameplay element.
For an arcade-style title, Amy really impressed me. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of co-op, two players utilizing very different characters (have we ever seen an adult and child character working together? I guess the Lego series perhaps?), but it is still a title I'm looking forward to at Arcade price (on PSN, XBLA, and PC) and the promise of sequels to come.