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Beyond Co-Op Review: AMY

I’m going to do you a favor here, since I know you probably scroll to the bottom of a review to see the score before even reading. I’m giving AMY, a single player survival horror title on Xbox LIVE Arcade and Playstation Network a 1 out of 5, and that’s being generous. Now you can continue to read on to see why it deserved this score, or you can just take that score and stop wasting your time, unlike I did by playing the game.

To begin with, AMY started out somewhat promising. You’re introduced to a main character named Lana, and her little mute refugee Amy on a train. You know you’re fleeing from some institution that did horrible tests on Amy, and you’re headed to a hospital where you hope to get help in figuring out what they were doing to Amy. Then there’s a train crash, which is not just a euphemism for describing the game.

Lana is immediately attacked by a bleeding crazy person, and Amy is separated from her. This is basically the beginning of almost every chapter in the game - Amy runs off for whatever reason, and you have to go find her. The game doesn’t tell you this, but it’s heavily assumed that Lana is infected by some chemical or whatever that creates monsters. The game calls them “zombies” unabashedly, but I’d compare them more to psychotic vampires like those seen in I Am Legend.

Lana can cure herself of horrible mutations by using syringes, or holding on to Amy, who has mysterious psychic powers (If you’re thinking: OH! Powers and institutions like River Tamm from Firefly! I was too, until I played the game).

Here’s what the game AMY does wrong: (In no particular order)

The controls are terrible. Not just the standard clunky survival horror style, but actively awful. You have to hold the right bumper to call Amy to your side before using any of her powers, which is another series of two or three more buttons to use. The aiming controls for Amy’s psychic powers are also the least user-friendly controls I’ve ever seen.

Everything about the story, save for a few cut scenes at the beginning of each level, is implied. Lana picks up a Geiger counter in the first few minutes of the game, but doesn’t explain why she knows to pick it up, or that it even is a Geiger counter (save for the unmistakable clicking sound it makes as Lana is poisoned by x-chemical).

Visually the game is terrible. I don’t mean graphics (though, those are bad, too) I mean the lighting and angles for player control. Your only source of light comes from Amy, and you don’t always have her near by. Oh, and her lamp flickers like a 15-year-old fluorescent bulb, which is enough to give anyone a headache. The camera also gets caught on seemingly nothing, so it jumps around and doesn’t offer a good point of view of what’s going on almost ever. The camera actually made me motion sick - which has never happened in a third person game before.

There is no save system. Let me repeat that: THERE IS NO SAVE SYSTEM. The game has checkpoints in case you die horribly for whatever reason, but the only way to quit the game and pick it back up is if you start at the beginning of a chapter. Oh, and anything you collected from the previous levels is not saved. So, weapons? Nope. Amy’s powers? Nada. Health items? HA!

Amy can be attacked by monsters. She's defenseless, and becomes a huge liability. If she were programmed to automatically hide like she does in the cut scenes, this wouldn't be the frustrating case at all. It doesn't happen often, but it's ridiculous when it does.

There is no map. I don’t understand how any game with exploration in this generation of gaming can get away with no map. Occasionally the radar will give you a few waypoint objectives, but they are not intuitive, and don’t work with the environment. For instance, a dot will appear roughly West on the radar. You run West, but as you get closer, it shifts to the other side of a large, impassable item slightly North-West.

The voice acting is poor, and the dialog is inconsistent. In more than one instance, it appears that the dialog is not translated from French very well, and the subtitles don’t match up.

There are bugs everywhere. Not creepy crawlies, but game breaking bugs. At multiple points you have to send Amy to pick things up, or use a button or elevator. The game will rarely register this, and you won’t get the item you’re looking for or have to mash the button to get Amy to call the elevator/open a door for you. If you have to go backward at any point, the elevators won’t reset to the floor you need them on, and you can be stuck in a situation where suicide reset is the only option.

If you’re separated from Amy for too long, Lana will become sick in most areas. This is a horrible design idea when the game doesn’t call Amy properly, or you have to stay separated to explore and the buttons to reunite you don’t work correctly.

What AMY does right:

Intuitive puzzles. There aren’t many, but the few puzzles I ran in to were pretty cool, and put my brain back in the game after I had to banish said brain to the corner in order to suffer through the rest of the game.

The monster design is pretty slick. They are limited in design, but they are very neat when you do see a new one. This also includes Lana’s “poisoned” face. She gets progressively uglier, nastier, and vainier as hear health wanes.

The game utilizes character weaknesses. I love when a game tells you that your character is not invincible, even with a magical little girl hanging out with you. You have to hide from certain enemies, and utilize the terrain or powers to sneak by overpowered enemies.

In theory, AMY should be a phenomenal game by my general horror fandom, but it just felt entirely too rushed and not complete by any stretch of the imagination. This game is my biggest disappointment in a horror game of all time, and I am deeply hurt that the developer felt this title was worth any amount of money as it is. A few more months in development, and a careful story supervisor, AMY could have been something impressive. As it stands, the few elements worth looking at in the futuristic world of AMY are heavily overshadowed by the games blaring flaws.

SCORE: 1 out of 5

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