AMY First Look Preview -- Silent Hill Meets ICO?By Stephen Johnson - Posted Mar 07, 2011
French developer Lexis Numerique isn’t exactly a household name, except in the most esoteric-households, but the developer has been around awhile, creating games for kids, and is making a push toward developing more “serious,” non-kid titles. We caught up with Lexis at GDC 2011 and were very impressed with the pair of PSN games they showed off at the Con. The first of which, AMY, is an intriguing survival horror title that you’ll want to pay attention to if you’re into Silent Hill-style horror and the AI-co-op of ICO.
AMY is being developed by Paul Cuisset, the creator of heralded platformer Flashback released in 1993 for various old-school systems. Flashback was an ambitious, groundbreaking title, and, true-to-form, Cuisset’s AMY seems to be about pushing the possibilities of downloadables games. It features a big story, a fully fleshed out setting, and what could be some unique gameplay mechanics.
AMY takes place in the Mid-West in 2034. A deadly virus has struck earth, and the outbreak has transformed otherwise normal people into horrible monsters. You play as Lana, who regains consciousness to find the fabric of her life torn to tatters by the seemingly natural disaster. A comet has landed nearby and unleashed Hell in Lana’s hometown of Silver City. Demons, monsters, muties, and the always-intrusive military surround her, intent on ending her life. Lana soon meets Amy, an eight year-old autistic child. Amy is mute, and seemingly defenseless, but begins to exhibit unexplained powers. Together, Lana must accompany Amy out of the city, and presumably get to the bottom of the mystery that has overtaken the world.
The gameplay finds each character able to complete certain tasks – Amy is small and can fit in confined spaces that are inaccessible to Lana, for instance. Sadly, none of this was shown at GDC, so we'll take Lexis’s word about it for now.
If the idea of helping a speechless child through a dangerous world reminds you a little of ICO, it’s because the game owes that title a debt of gratitude. Visually, the little bit of AMY I was able to get my eyes on at GDC is reminiscent of the Silent Hill series. The very impressively messed-up, sci-fi environments set a creepy tone, and I was told the visuals will be even more impressive when the game launches for the PSN.
Gameplay-wise, AMY is a little like Silent Hill as well. For the majority of the game, I’m told, you’ll be in fear, fighting terrifying enemies as opposed to being a one-woman monster-squad ala Resident Evil. For me, this is the right choice for every survival horror game; there’s little scary about being an over-powered tank in a world of bullet fodder.
While very little of the actual game was shown at GDC, what I did see involved the player guiding Lana through some busted up, claustrophobic rooms while monitoring a light on her back that measures the amount of toxins in the air. Travel to particularly bad areas of the map, and you’ll be running through the room, trying to keep from choking on the miasma of poisoned air. I’m not sure what happens when the meter turns red, but I’d bet almost anything it won’t be good.
If all this sounds ambitious for a downloadable game, it is. But if AMY lives up to the promise of the GDC 2011 demo, I’m 100 percent sold. As a fan of the survival-horror genre, and Flashback, I’ll be following this one closely, and hopefully get my hands on a preview build soon. AMY is planned for release on the PlayStation Network sometime around late May or Early June.