If you were to ask me what game has defined the horror genre in video games I would be able to answer it without hesitation…Resident Evil on the Playstation 1. Now I know people will argue that Alone in the Dark preceded it and was the originator but to me RE was the game that made it all come together in a beautiful package of scariness and tension with a smattering of action layered on top.
The sad part of this argument is that if you where to ask me the question “what was the last game that literally made you jump out of your seat or look behind you when you played it alone at night?” It would be the same answer.
The horror genre has had many excellent entries and there have been some very worthwhile successors to the crown (Condemned and Dead Space come close) there is something about a good ol Zombie romp that gives me chills.
So knowing this I approached my preview of AMY very carefully. I knew that this game had been getting some negative reviews on other sites but I resisted the urge to read their reviews preferring to form my own opinion that wasn’t influenced by theirs. Knowing that this was a downloadable title I wasn’t going to expect much; boy was I wrong!
Lights turned off and my turtle beaches cranked up to full I dove in headfirst.
Disclaimer* I have not purchased this game but rather chose to give a first impression review based on my experience with the Trial version of the game
AMY starts off very ominous as you are introduced to the two main characters in the game; Amy and her Blonde haired guardian Lana. After about 5 minutes of cut scenes you are finally taking control of Lana who is in search of Amy in dark and scary train station after the train you where riding on gets derailed and crashes into it.
Dark corridors and creepy music are all placed in the appropriate places and for the first time in many years I felt goose bumps creeping up my arm as I explored the well rendered train station.
The game uses a free form camera system that allowed me to pan around my environment but still managed to create a very claustrophobic feel. Exploring the tight confines of the derailed train immediately harkened back to the mansion scenes in Resident evil 1 and I found myself being careful walking around corners even though I could pan around them with ease. It’s almost as if the game knew I was comparing it to the aforementioned game and was having fun with me with creepy music and well placed mirrors but alas nothing too intense happened on the train.
In fact I could some up the entire AMY trial with that statement alone. Nothing really happened the entire time I played the trial. I was on pins and needles the entire time and even though I had a few run ins with some zombie/infected each encounter was over with a few swings of my makeshift weapon( a generic melee weapon of some kind…I think it was a tire iron)
Each time the game through an encounter like this at me I was filled with dread and a sense of fear due to the fact that I had no idea what these creatures where capable of. I’m sure as the game progresses that fear would disappear as I became comfortable with the various “class” of creatures I would face.
The moment to moment tension was thick and although the graphics were not on par with more recent full game releases they are very good for a downloadable title and they did a great job of creating atmosphere and rendering believable environments.
The game employs a very innovative feature that heightens your panic level. “AI Co-Op” is the only way I can explain the feature. Your small ward AMY is also a useful companion in some areas of the game and you have the ability to send her away from your side to perform a variety of tasks suitable for her dimutive stature. The side affect of all this atmosphere is that when AMY isn’t standing beside you or holding your hand (the game allows you to control your proximity to her by holding a button; Holding the button translated to holding her hand) you feel a sense of panic akin to a parent losing site of their child. I think this was a clever side affect of giving you control over her proximity because nothing really bad happened to her when she strayed too far away from me.
Overall the game really didn’t have a ‘”big moment pay off” and I simply went from area to area solving some basic puzzles and searching for supplies all the while fending off a minimal amount of threats.
This raises a very concerning question for the full game…Does the full version escalate in any way?
Being that it was a trial I don’t expect them to throw everything at us and to be fair the end of the trail does leave us with a sense that things were about to get a lot more eventful.
So the question everyone is probably asking is “would you purchase this game?”
I would at a small cost of 800 MS points it is a safe bet for a game that could potentially deliver some decent scares and a couple days worth of entertainment in a genre that rarely has a good effort these days. I didn’t really find any flaws with the various aspects the Trial presented me with. Puzzle solving was a tad bid mundane and combat was fairly simple yet had some depth (the ability to dodge and having to monitor your weapons durability after each encounter). Your characters lack of combat training and the fact that she is a average Jayne wearing high heals in a zombie invested train station gave it a built in hopeless feelilng.The package actually came together quite well and dare I say echoed some of the memories I had with the genres defining game (my opinion at top of article)
My advice to those who do play the trial or the full version; set the mood! Kill the lights and crank the volume and lay out an extra set of underpants; AMY is waiting to scare the crap out of you!
Dwayne “ EVO Knight” Morash