Amy Xbox Live Arcade game Review

Growing up in L.A. back when drive-in and independent theatres were much more prominent than they are these days, this writer has seen a lot of classic horror films.  The nearly ever-present quality they all share is that they are bad.  Compared to more mainstream films, almost every one of them is garbage.  That’s the nature of the beast.  The criteria are completely different and the subject matter automatically puts it at a disadvantage.  Considering, Amy is a bargain priced, downloadable game, Los Angeles based Bender Helper Impact’s position of promoting what has become the new favorite game for critics to bash is both surprising and expected.

Amy is the new Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network downloadable survival horror title developed by Vector Cell.  Vector Cell is the pet project of the Flashback game creator, Paul Cuisset and Amy has been out for nearly two weeks now.  A good number of critics have referred to it as the “worst game ever” and called it “garbage and totally unplayable.”  After playing it, truthfully, it is flawed and there are a number of things to complain about but, as was the case last year, with Duke Nuke’m (did anyone really expect it to be an amazing game?) the vitriol is probably better served elsewhere.

There are quite a few $60 games that are as “unplayable” and “broken” as Amy.  The full priced, open world RPG Two Worlds comes to mind as title that was significantly inferior to the $10 Amy.  Minus some technical glitches, Demon Souls is much more unplayable for many gamers.  Nostalgia is a notorious distorter of reality.  Many of the classic horror titles of the past are deeply flawed and difficult games.  Go ahead, and try to replay the original Resident Evils, Silent Hill or Dino Crisis.

Amy can best be summed up as an HD reimagining of the survival horror titles of a couple of console generations before with many of the same mechanics.  Amy takes place in December 2034 in the small town of Silver City after a strange explosion that unleashes a deadly virus that has infected almost everyone.  Players take on the role of the unremarkable Lana, the caretaker of Amy, a seemingly defenseless eight-year-old autistic girl.  The game picks up on the train they were travelling on when the explosion hit.  After locating her charge, they must fight or run from the infected humans, demons and the military.

The combat options allow players to strike or dodge and the weapons will decay with use.  The enemies aren’t your only problem though, as you try to solve the puzzles, the environment can infect Lana as well.  Luckily, in addition to other skills, Amy can heal Lana.  For the most part, it’s your job to take care of the young Amy and no, you don’t get any cool weapons to do it with.  This adds to the authenticity of the near-future story although, it isn’t nearly enough to make up for the script and voice acting.

The publisher recommends playing on easy for most gamers as it is nearly as difficult as the critical success Demon Souls.  Adding to the difficulty is the distance between checkpoints and that checkpoints are meaningless once you quit the game.  The game does automatically save at the end of chapters and this is where you will have to play through to avoid replaying the level next time.  Some players have reported excessive glitching in the saves but I had few issues.

If you honestly, love those old original Playstation and Dreamcast survival horror games and want more of them, Amy is probably worth a shot.  At $10 it’s a bargain scare, just don’t expect Uncharted 3 or Resident Evil 5.  It’s a new take on a difficult genre that used its limitations to add a level of anxiety to the gameplay.  It certainly won’t win any awards and some of that isn’t its fault but it’s not even close to the worst game ever.

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