Video Game Spotlight: Amy

You often get what you pay for, and when a game’s base price is less than five dollars, you start playing dubiously. But you don’t always get a bad game; sometimes navigating these cheap minefields you are able to find a rare gem.

In Video Game Spotlight I attempt to spread some light onto independent games I stumble across. This time I spotlight Amy, a game developed by VectorCell, a shut down studio, that released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2012. Dust off those now primitive consoles – it is time to step back for Amy.

I have been told by multiple sources to avoid Amy, following complaints of terrible controls and tedious design, and yet most of these complaints are reasons why I implore you to play the game.

The story follows Lana, a woman charged with caring for the autistic Amy, a young girl with unique skills. At the start they are on a train headed to a hospital to find a means of helping Amy, when suddenly the world falls into chaos. A sudden explosion derails the train as a wave of a mysterious infection contaminates Silver City, transforming people into zombies. With dangers all around, Lana needs to help Amy escape and get to the hospital. It is soon revealed that Amy has some unique talents which can help her and Lana survive their desperate struggle against the undead and militant forces ready to kill on sight.

Many gamers agree that escort quests are annoying. While certain games had proven to be terrible examples of escort quests, Amy was more akin to The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite in your ally’s usefulness. I’d even argue that in Amy escorting is better implemented. One of the game’s strongest elements is the motivation to protect Amy as you escort her. This game awakens a parental bond as you fight to keep Amy safe.

This is further enhanced by the game’s movement mechanics. Amy is prone to wander off, an issue when, unlike in The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite with Ellie or Elizabeth, Amy alerts enemies to your presence. That you may hold Amy’s hand and guide her to safety or to key points of interest really builds on the parental element of the game. Not only is this mechanic well implemented in keeping her close and preventing random wandering, but it also helps you feel more connected to Amy. You feel like she matters, and isn’t just some invisible partner, but a desperate survivor whom needs to be protected.

Amy holds further significance with the gameplay. She acts as a shield from infection when she is close to the player. As the game continues, the dangers get progressively worse with the infection taking over humans and turning them into monsters, some people transformed into hulking giants. However, Amy is immune and can keep Lana safe. This makes it all the more interesting in the moments when you and Amy are separated. There is a desperation in these situations as you quickly navigate through enemies to get to Amy’s location to help her and save yourself from the infection. These moments, wherein tension is built as you utilize the two characters, become quite intense and kept me invested in the game. You end up separated a lot as you drop Amy into separate rooms to grab key items by guiding her with a prompt. The desperation never stops.

Things get even more interesting as you discover Amy’s powers, which offer an assortment of bonuses to help you progress through the game. Take, for instance, her silence powers, allowing her to set up a ball of energy that blocks all noise, giving Lana cover through noisy paths without alerting nearby threats. Amy is the cornerstone of this game and the hand that ties all elements of the gameplay together, especially as you get further in and explore her full skill set.

At times I can understand some of the complaints levied against the game, such as the annoying dark visuals, poor checkpoint system, and some clunky combat mechanics, but Amy has many great moments that get you involved in its growing conflict. More importantly it does escort quests right, building on the parental bond between characters and how they can work in tandem to survive against all odds. I would argue that Amy works better than The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite; it adds danger if you do not pay attention and let Amy wander into harm’s way.

So please do yourself a favor and play Amy. This game will grab your attention within the first twenty minutes and will make it hard for you to put it down. Don’t stay away from Amy.

If you were someone who played Amy when it was originally released and quickly gave up due to its issues, I beseech you, please give Amy a second chance. A couple of updates have made it more playable.


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