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AMY Review

AMY Review

If you’ve been following Play with even the slightest sliver of interest, you’ll know we were really, really excited about AMY Survival horror hasn’t been done well since it losts its own identity – Resident Evil is about rocket launchers and co-op, Siren is missing in action, Silent Hill doesn’t know what it wants to be anymore.

Then AMY turned up, saying what we wanted to hear, showing the right things.

And now, the horrible, unavoidable truth – AMY is awful.

Instead of doing the usual review (oh no the blog title is a lie help how do I edit), we’ll just list examples of the horrible design, inconsistency and glaring errors that underpin everything AMY does.

Example 1: The opening cutcscenes shudders and jerks about. The opening cutscene. Where there is no gameplay. And nothing should be juddering. The whole game suffers from screen tearing and v-sync issues, so at least it’s a fair approximation of what’s to come (and that’s what opening cutscenes do, eh?) but honestly, it’s the OPENING CUTSCENE. It should be smooth as butter and ease you in. It shouldn’t look like the engine is being powered by a Casio calculator and make your eyeballs roll around your skull like a chameleon trying to keep up with the shuddering mess.

We’re also being kind by not mentioning the voice-acting at this point.

Example 2: The first character you meet is Marcello, a cab driver who gives you a tool to unlock doors using DNA samples. Which begs two questions – why does he have this tool (“I’ve got contacts” – oh, okay) and why would he give something so valuable to someone he just met? You might think there’s an underlying agenda to be revealed later on but you’re thinking about three steps ahead of Lexis Numerique, as Marcello is killed off about 10 minutes later having divulged nothing interesting about his past. Oh.

Example 3: Skipping ahead a bit now but when Marcello is killed, it’s done via a series of animated slides. This is particularly grating for two reasons. The first is that AMY had been using in-game cutscenes up to that point, so why the sudden change? Even worse was that you can see Marcello walking off and overhear his conversation with the security guards, so it’s not even needed – dialogue, gunfire and finding the body would convey would happened, plus it would add an element of mystery (what do the security guards look like?), plus it would avoid the whole animated cutscene problem. But hey, we’re writers, not game designers.

And secondly, Marcello tells Lana and Amy to hide “just in case something goes wrong.” The heavy signposting isn’t the problem – we’d be damning almost every game out there if it was – but having introduced the hide-under-table-and-watch-Marcello-walk-off-in-first-person mechanic, it then abandons a potentially suspense moment where the security guards could then come after you by cutting to the animated slides, and then immediately cutting to a brand new part of the subway you’re in. Oh. Right. Erm. What?

Example 4: You have to find Amy following the train crash. She’s found hiding in the toilets but there’s an electric fence in the way which needs disabled by a control panel secured by doors using DNA locks while a heavy object is barricading the toilets themselves. So how did Amy manage to get in there?

Example 5: To run, you hold down L1 and forward. When you pick up a pipe, you’re told that you hold down L1 and press Square to attack. When you let go of L1, your weapon disappears from your hand. When you press L1, it reappears. Tap it and it looks like you have a flashing weapon. Then later, you’re told that run is actually R1, not L1. What?

Example 6: You need Amy to get through this vent, which is clearly big enough for Lana. Just to highlight that, you’re shown the vent from various different angles including Lana, so you’re left in no doubt that Lana could get through there if she could be bothered. So why can’t Lana scamper through? No idea. Is she lazy? Does she just like bossing Amy around? Is Lana trolling?

Example 7: Let’s not be too harsh though, it was only one vent that size, so the issue probably never comes up again. Oh hey guess what.

Example 8: On a similar note, why is this an obstacle? There are massive gaps to climb through. What is Lana’s problem? Sensitive knee-caps? Irrational fear of rust?

Example 9: At one point, two enemies were running around in circles. They were supposed to be chasing us and didn’t do so until we actually walked back to where they were running in circles, snapping them out of their broken AI routine and then getting killed by their sudden rush. So either their AI is really advanced or really broken. Hmmm. Which one could it be.

Example 10: Every time you die, you lose all of your items. That’s bad enough but it’s made even harder as…

Example 11: …the checkpoints are awful, which makes AMY an impossible chore as you retread the same slow-paced, pseudo-stealth moments to get to the bit you were stuck on. Perfect example is a monster at the start of chapter 2, which bursts out of a wall and kills you in one hit. You can’t fight it. So what do you do? Trial and error is needed to figure out the correct solution but every guess is preceded by the same five minutes of gameplay (including an enemy which spots you if you run, artificially forcing the gameplay speed down) and every incorrect guess is followed by a loading screen and will to continue further being sapped away.

Awful checkpoints are bad enough in games but AMY is designed around a go slow approach, where you have to sneak through certain sections undetected and combat which is unpredictable thanks to how clumsy it is. There’s a strange nervousness which underpins AMY from that point on, as you become afraid. But it’s not fear of the monsters. It’s fear of the game design, which paralyses you into not making a mistake, for fear of retreading the same dull, turgid sections again and again. It’s a feeling that increases as the difficulty is amped up with each of the five chapters. AMY is an attack on your willpower to continue. It will break. It must break. It’s like you’re made of iron. Why won’t you quit? QUIT.

There’s no way they could have made that problem any worse though oh god no wait what’s this

Example 12: There are five chapters in AMY. Your progress is only saved upon completing a chapter. So there are a total of five save points IN THE ENTIRE GAME. Having thought about this one for a while, there is absolutely no upside to handling the save system this way. It doesn’t make things more tense, more scary, more anything. It’s… annoying. Frustrating. Laborious. Entirely unnecessary.

Examp-oh what’s the point. Look, AMY is just bad. It’s a game that could fix some of its crippling flaws by introducing checkpoints and a save system with a patch, if that’s even possible. Even so, the screen tear, the weird controls, the inconsistent design… there’s simply too much surgery required to expect a post-release Mickey Mouse plaster to completely cover the gaping wounds.

AMY is not completely without merit. For a PSN title, when not suffering with screen tear, it certainly looks the part. It passes the eye-test as an average-looking full price PlayStation3 game, and for a downloadable title that costs £8.99, it’s commendable.

That’s it. No, really. That’s it. It looks like a PlayStation3 game. We’d love to break out the pom-poms and go “WOOO YEAH 95%!” at this point but it’s broken, it’s unfinished, it’s awkward, it’s clumsy and it’s just no fun when the checkpoints (or lack of) grab your gaming spirit by its teeth and tears it to pieces. You’ll never want to play another game again.

AMY is a huge disappointment when it had so much promise and short of being patched, will end with you crying with frustration as you repeat slow chunks of the game over and over and over and over again. So yes. We’re obviously on the fence about this one. Hmmm.

Having thought it over, we’ll veer towards ‘avoid’. Just.




  • DO’G

    “Awful checkpoints are bad enough in games but AMY is designed around a go slow approach, where you have to sneak through certain sections undetected and combat which is unpredictable thanks to how clumsy it is. There’s a strange nervousness which underpins AMY from that point on, as you become afraid. But it’s not fear of the monsters. It’s fear of the game design, which paralyses you into not making a mistake, for fear of retreading the same dull, turgid sections again and again. It’s a feeling that increases as the difficulty is amped up with each of the five chapters. AMY is an attack on your willpower to continue. It will break. It must break. It’s like you’re made of iron. Why won’t you quit? QUIT.

    There’s no way they could have made that problem any worse though oh god no wait what’s this

    Example 12: There are five chapters in AMY. Your progress is only saved upon completing a chapter. So there are a total of five save points IN THE ENTIRE GAME. Having thought about this one for a while, there is absolutely no upside to handling the save system this way. It doesn’t make things more tense, more scary, more anything. It’s… annoying. Frustrating. Laborious. Entirely unnecessary.”

    BUT hang on, you lot LOVED demon/dark souls and that C”AP had the same issues. Apparently its OK for that game to have NO check points orsave points and tedious and dull as ever, but when another game has the same RIDICULOUS problem the game is awful. The word fickle comes to mind.

  • Conor

    So what you guys are actually hinting at is that I should DEFINITELY buy this! 😛

  • Joey

    Someone got out of the wrong side of bed this morning.
    LET’S ALL BE ANGRY!!! BLOCK CAPITALS WILL CONVEY MY FURY!

  • Joey

    The word hysteria comes to mind.

  • Sandy

    There are many reasons why Demon’s Souls could justify the absence of checkpoints: It was rewarding. It added to the tension, because the game worked.

  • “BUT hang on, you lot LOVED demon/dark souls and that C”AP had the same issues. Apparently its OK for that game to have NO check points orsave points and tedious and dull as ever, but when another game has the same RIDICULOUS problem the game is awful. The word fickle comes to mind.”

    BUT hang on, Dark Souls is a RPG and AMY is a survival horror. They’re nothing alike.

    Your character constantly progresses through XP in Dark Souls, you have multiple paths, there are different ways to tackle each section and when you die, you feel as though you’re to blame, not the game design.

    That’s quite different to trudging through exactly the same sequence again and again and again just to reach the bit where you have to second-guess the game design correctly, otherwise you die and have to go through it yet again. There are no alternative paths, your character doesn’t get stronger through experience, nothing is gained by repeating the same sections over and over again.

  • DO’G

    “There are many reasons why Demon’s Souls could justify the absence of checkpoints: It was rewarding. It added to the tension, because the game worked.”
    Thats stupid, im sorry the game was difficult for no apparent reason? i dont mind a video game being difficult but come on at least add bleeting checkpoints or save points.

    “Your character constantly progresses through XP in Dark Souls, you have multiple paths, there are different ways to tackle each section and when you die, you feel as though you’re to blame, not the game design.

    That’s quite different to trudging through exactly the same sequence again and again and again just to reach the bit where you have to second-guess the game design correctly, otherwise you die and have to go through it yet again. There are no alternative paths, your character doesn’t get stronger through experience, nothing is gained by repeating the same sections over and over again.

    I’m sorry i HAVE to disagree with you, i played through the same god darn level and didnt gain level nor got stronger. Its also the same with demon souls you die you start at the beginning again and again and again and again. So where on gods green earth is the fun. Dont get it twisted it shouldnt be handed to us on a plate biut come on.

    HAHAHAHAHAH i added capitals to add drama to my post and it worked like a charm HAHAHAHAHAHHA…….. ANyway i’m just saying fair enough AMY sounds like a ridiculous game BUT to say a game is awful because of the checkpoint is a bit wrong considering demon souls had no check points. TBH i’m just a fan of your mag trying to make sense of it all. *shrugs shoulders*

    JOEY: i was a little annoyed it was a weekend and i’m brok so i needed to vent. LSIMHBIWFEFMTALOL

  • Ryan King

    Bonfires = checkpoints. And the game saves automatically when you quit out. If you don’t like Demon/Dark Souls, that’s fair enough, I know some people didn’t get on with the design of it, at all.

    Two things though:

    1) The checkpoint system in AMY -is- broken. Everyone who has played it here in our office agrees. No-one likes the checkpoint system. It is completely different to Dark Souls for reasons I have already explained. I’m not going to repeat what I said before because it’s all in my original reply to your first post. I’ve explained as best I can without you actually playing AMY for yourself and seeing the difference. And I’d really rather you didn’t do that because I really, really doubt you’ll enjoy AMY.

    But I will say that while you’ll find people who don’t like the checkpoint/bonfire system of Dark Souls, you won’t find -anyone- who likes the checkpoint system in AMY.

    2) Even if the checkpoint system was fair (and it’s really, really not), AMY still has issues with inconsistent design, awful controls, broken AI and so on. It’s an absolute mess.

    And I wouldn’t worry about what Joey said, given the strange way he added that hysteria comment two minutes after his original post. No idea what point he was trying to make with that.

  • shaun

    Dark souls’ checkpoints may have been few and far between but it looked great, and when a problem presented itself you had many ways in which to solve that problem which Amy doesn’t seem to offer as i understand it.

    When in a survival horror game you fear replaying parts of the game more than the actual intended horror then you know the developers have made a massive error.

    But hey VectorCell Ryan King seems to have some great ideas which would add more mystery to your game/games. one example being ” dialogue, gunfire and finding the body would convey would happened, plus it would add an element of mystery (what do the security guards look like?), plus it would avoid the whole animated cutscene problem. But hey, we’re writers, not game designers.”
    Not to mention the other 11 examples, you guys should of let him playtest your game first.

    Careful play mag, Ryan may be geting head hunted as as we speak.

  • Anne-Marie Coyle

    Just finished AMY, now proceeding to write a strongly worded letter to the developer demanding my time, money and sanity back! Your review is spot on, only wish I’d read it sooner!