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Amy – first-look preview

We love a good survival horror game, but it's a genre that's difficult to get right. That's why we're excited that publisher Lexis Numerique is taking a chance on Amy, a new title that aspires to be in similar vein to Silent Hill 2. It's a tale of a woman trying to escape from point A to point B in the midst of chaos and zombie outbreak, which we're told will take her through all manner of environments. The zombie infection scenario might seem a little trite, but the story does do things to set itself apart, mainly involving the titular young girl, Amy. The developers at VectorCell also seem keen to try some new things gameplay-wise, with the hope of keeping us tensely on our toes throughout Amy's six hour campaign.

You play as protagonist Lana, who's trying to travel from her crashed train to a hospital where her friend is working on a cure for the zombie outbreak. She discovers a mysterious girl named Amy, who not only is completely immune to the infection, but also radiates a healing field so that when you stand near her you recover all health. You don't have a traditional HUD as such, but taking a cue from Dead Space, your health is shown by a circular light attached to your back. Green means healthy, yellow is iffy, and when you go into the red it means you're on the verge of succumbing to the zombie virus. Lana's appearance gradually changes too, and when she's in the red she's more or less indistinguishable from a zombie.

Lana's transformation factors into the gameplay too, and sometimes you actually need to let her go into the red in order to survive. You see, Lana's combat skills are about on par with James's in Silent Hill 2 – she can pick up an object like a crowbar to melee in a pinch, but she's no action hero. If she needs to pass through a heavily infested area, she can avoid detection from the zombie hordes by letting her infection advance to the point where she's still mentally in control of herself, but infected enough to fool the real zombies into assuming she's one of them. Since there's no HUD, you don't know exactly how long she has left until her infection is past the point of no return – there's no timer telling you how many seconds you have left before Game Over. This creates a delicate balancing act, where you have to make tense judgment calls about whether to run for the med pack or try to continue racing through the crowds of zombies and hope the infection doesn't take over.

The scene we saw in the demo was much quieter than a horde of zombies though, as Lana and Amy tried to sneak through a dilapidated train station without being detected. Whilst exploring, Lana can command Amy to hide in various cabinets, lockers and whatnot while she explores, but if she strays too far from Amy she has to either use a med pack to heal or return to Amy before she falls victim to infection. If a zombie approaches, Lana can also hide and wait for the threat to pass, but she has to be careful that the zombie has moved on before emerging. While in the cabinet, you can peek through a crack in the doors to look for potential threats. Reflections play a big role here, and you can often catch a glimpse of a hidden zombie by spotting its reflection in a mirror or other reflective surface – that is, if the zombie doesn't smash the object first. When you're holding Amy's hand, you can also feel her heartbeat when you hold down the R1 button, which gets faster the nearer the monsters are. It's a cool touch that feels reminiscent of Silent Hill's radio static that rises as you approach an enemy.


 
We didn't get any hands-on time with the game, so it's hard to say whether the gameplay will back up what we've seen so far, but it looks promising. Although nothing in the short demo we saw hinted at any gameplay problems (it's especially hard to say when we're not in control of the game), the emphasis on escorting Amy unavoidably leaves us somewhat skeptical – escort missions are usually not the most celebrated aspects of any game. Publisher Lexis Numerique is hoping though that people will be willing to take the risk though and give it a try, because of its low price point ($12) compared to a full retail release. Graphics-wise, it looks impressively on-par with a full retail release too, and we're told that it will offer about six hours of gameplay when it releases on PSN in June. Look for our full review then.

Apr 5, 2011

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22 comments

  • BlindMarksman - April 7, 2011 3:53 a.m.

    Where can i see the Trailer or The Gameplay for this game?
  • Metroidhunter32 - April 7, 2011 2:50 a.m.

    Hot damn, this looks interesting.
  • philipshaw - April 6, 2011 2:58 p.m.

    Looks pretty cool for a game I never heard of until now
  • manicania - April 6, 2011 10:11 a.m.

    I'll probably wait for a review before I buy it, but at $12, it's probably worth the try. I like Survival games, so this one should be enjoyable.
  • m1bayluv41510 - April 6, 2011 8:53 a.m.

    Damn, too bad this is a psn exclusies i've been wanting another system to add to the 360 tho..
  • quincytheodore - April 6, 2011 6:19 a.m.

    @Helios Me too
  • 4fromK - April 6, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    oh, and on the worry of inherent escort mission terribleness, the only other game comprising solely of escort missions I can think of is Ico, which is promising... as long as they nail the characterisation and dial back the frustrative mechanics, its could be a gem. If this comes to steam I'd almost preorder - 12 bucks is not a lot of money to pledge to a dev team willing to think outside the box
  • 4fromK - April 6, 2011 6:01 a.m.

    the letting yourself become infected to fool the zombies Reminded me of the part in shaun of the dead where they pretend to be zombies... classic
  • MrSuitMan - April 6, 2011 1:21 a.m.

    That "red health" aspect seems very creative and innovative. Looks cool.
  • crumbdunky - April 6, 2011 12:15 a.m.

    @SeriousSean-The thing about the odd game releasing only on PSN is thayt, IIRC, Sony offer(or used to) devs the chance to take a risk by keeping their game only on PSN. Sony would see early footage of a game idea and say "yes" or "no" to offering to fund the games dev costs ion return for exclusivity. It's then up to devs to decide if they want to brave the market unfunded on all three(or however many they feel like taking on)fronts(and Wiiware I guess-though I duno what the rules are governing Wiiware titles as far as devs go as a lot are unique to Wii)or take Sony's money. Taking Sony's offer would mean financial security for what might be a small team with an ambitious project or a bigger studio with a very niche game idea but one they'd like to try out without a total risk. I'm sure that there's more to it than I've stated here(maybe Sony also take a cut of future profits on PSN (but investors would anyway)even after costs are recouped but I'm certain they also offer a litle more development help to those taking the PSN exclusive route as well. Your point, though, stands and it IS infuriating not to see games you ,like the sound of only releasing on one platform. Whether, or not, you OWN said platform can factor into your frustration on this, I'm sure, but to me the bigger worry is that the ideas found these days on XBLA/Wiiware and PSN can miss the traditional market and home for fresh indie ideas on PC. If a game is GOOD enough, mind, and succeeds on XBLA or PC or PSN it TENDS to seep out after that period of exclusivity ends on the other platforms in any case-and often even if the game isn't met with great critical and sales acclaim too-as we see CC appear on PSN years after XBLA we might also get games like Hydrophobia follow suit without the Crasher's success. Whatever, I can see how a leftfield idea might benefit from the exclusive treatment from Sony or MS(or Ninty) if it removes the initial risk of keeping everyone at the studio in work-guaranteed. Maybe removing that fear will allow devs not to worry and to give their ideas the kind of freedom to remain outside the trad mainstream that they may not have had otherwise. This way,perhaps, some wilder thoughts can be brought direct to a console audience and be seen to be acceptable or not right away as well. Despite me loving EVERY gamer having the chance to lay as many of the great gaming ides out there I do see why, as we all do I'm guessing, many games from smaller devs start on PC(and then go the Cave Story kind of route etc)as well as why they might, these days, end up on a console INSTEAD rather than as well as or just later on. Naturally, you can also see what's n it for the likes of Sony in tmes where the big, AAA, disc based blockbuster, third party console exclusive is becoming a rarere and rarer beast-and an expensive one too. Fully OT-game ideas sound really good and that we'll be made to feel pretty vulnerable in the game. Six hours will, no doubt, be the outside and optimistic devs assumption on length but if that's, at least, their aim, then we should get a good size chunk of game to play and less chance of it being fully episodic while leaving the way, certainly, open for the DLC to flow at some point. Got a Fatal Frame vibe from the way you're meant to spot cues(rather than clues) in the environment to tell when things are about too and if they can marry early RE with that AND SH2 then it should be a good, I'm guessing) £8 worth when SCEE give it to the UK!
  • Jaces - April 5, 2011 11:21 p.m.

    Awww, sadface. Was hoping it would be a full retail game, still though this sounds really fantastic. It's about time we were given a true survival/horror game.
  • SeriousSean - April 5, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    A lot of these indie devs are doing themselves a disservice by only releasing on a single platform when there's at least three good places put up your game (Steam, PSN, Xbox Live). Just seems kind of silly.
  • kc2 - April 5, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    SOLD! a game thats like silent hill 2 and only $12?
  • Z-man427 - April 5, 2011 10:53 p.m.

    Only PSN? Darn... This shows promise.
  • CitizenWolfie - April 5, 2011 10:52 p.m.

    I was sceptical after the opening paragraph saying "6 hour campaign" but the more I read the more I was getting intrigued. But what sold it was the fact it'll be a PSN release. Got to be worth a look at that price!
  • MancisFrorkYorgan - April 5, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    This looks relevant to my interests.
  • AlmightyFuzz - April 5, 2011 10:48 p.m.

    This looks promising! Unfortunately, I don't have a PS3 to play it on :(
  • RebornKusabi - April 5, 2011 10:43 p.m.

    As a survival horror fan, this is immediately on my radar now and I want to see more of it. Thanks for the heads-up!
  • Helios - April 5, 2011 10:42 p.m.

    As I was reading this article, thinking that this game sounded great. I don't mind escort missions that much, as long as the person being escorted is at least half-way intelligent. And then I saw that it was only going to be $12. Awesome! I'm totally getti-- PSN? Only? *Sigh* I can't really buy a game for a console I don't own. Oh well, it still sounds cool.
  • Sy87 - April 5, 2011 10:38 p.m.

    Sweet this is going on my watch for list. I love the sound of it so we will see. Zombie dude is a little weird but maybe there are better. The environments look good.

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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