If you like survival horror you will almost definitely like AMY.
I'll start off by saying that I've played many different survival horror games, from Silent Hill, Resident Evil (1-3 & CVX) and Countdown Vampires to Parasite Eve, Clock Tower 1-2, and Nightmare Creatures 2. I've gained quite the taste for these types of games, and that's what AMY struck me as when I watched the trailer and tech demo. I usually hate escort missions and the like where you have to protect someone for an extended period of time, but AMY looked different to me, I think because the game was centered around this idea I respected it and was intrigued by it. Because let's face it, playing solo for several hours then having to escort someone somewhere can be a real pain, because you're not used to protecting anything or anyone but yourself. But I believe that if you share my love for old-style survival horror genres, then you may like AMY.
That said, I'll go on with my review.
AMY made me think back to the old survival horrors as I played, but with new twists that made it interesting. I was constantly thinking back to the kind-of 'rough' style of gameplay, and how it was somewhat similar, being in that you can't do a 180 at any time and just run with ease. I'm not saying it's as bad as the older games such as Resident Evil, but I'm saying it's not as smooth as the newer games. It can be slightly difficult to control Lana, and even more difficult to control her while holding Amy's hand. These things I love, because it gives a fear of escape. You question yourself as you try to judge whether you can fight or run, and which would be better or easier. On top of that, sneaking can and will play a vital role in some areas of this game, which adds an even more intense feel to the situation you're in. Make one wrong move and you can die instantly. The combat system in the game adds into all of this, because the weapons will degrade hastily, and you're left defenseless if they do, forcing you to run and quickly find a replacement. Lana has no weaponless defense. She cannot punch or kick. (Yes, I do kind-of find that silly, but that's part of the fear for your life. Besides, would you really want to go punching zombies in her position? I wouldn't...) I can understand how that could come across as frustrating for some, but I enjoy it, personally.
Now, when it comes to combat, I think some are confused by it. IGN sure seemed to be quite confused as to what was going on, at least. In my few hours with AMY, I quickly realized that the dodging is time-press based, meaning that if you don't dodge within a certain period of time, it won't work. Regardless of if it looks like you successfully dodged or not. It's the same for the enemies. If they dodge at the right time, it won't hit, regardless of how close you are to them. You must press dodge within a certain period of time. Too soon or too late will result in you failing the dodge and taking damage. Of course, the game does not explain this, you just have to learn it as you go, and there's never a confirmation of a successful dodge, or anywhere that it says "press now!" or anything. It's all instinctual, and can be difficult to get the feel for. Now, sometimes if you spam the dodge key quickly, you can escape their clutches, regardless of if you failed or not, but it's quite rare and you have to be a bit a ways from them, and sometimes it'll end up hurting you more then helping you, as the enemies can sometimes recover from attacks quickly, so it kind-of turns into a turn based battle. You just have to get a feel for your enemy and anticipate when he'll attack and when you have to dodge. If you attack and he dodges, you have to anticipate when to stop attacking, or you can wear Lana out, making her easy prey for your enemy's next attack. Just be careful and use your combative instincts, be smart, don't button mash. Also while we're here, I'll mention these two things: you can only go through about one to two enemies before the weapon is gone. They usually last about eight to ten hits. Of course, the game will warn you when it gets low, alternatively you can hit up on the d-pad to see it's durability at any time. Syringes are used by holding down on the d-pad and pressing X, and takes a second or two to complete, so they aren't very useful during combat, in my opinion. I'd wait until you've killed whatever it is you're combating before using one. I think that sums up this area of the review.
Death, it's never fun. But it's not as bad as previously claimed, and here's why.
When you die, you don't actually lose anything but your current meds/syringes, and the world items will stay where you found them, contrary to what was said in the quick-look. I'm not really sure if that's because of a patch, or if it's an xbox exclusive glitch, or a difficulty setting. I'm playing on normal, and I've only died a few times, but each time I will come back and all I'll be missing is my syringes. My weapon stays, and even respawns from where I got it. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the weapon you respawn with has good durability also, or at least the durability that it was when you saved at the checkpoint. The syringes also stay where they originally spawned, you just have to go get them again. Now this can be frustrating if you've saved up syringes from points previous to your checkpoint, as sometimes when you pass a checkpoint you can't go back to previous areas. I had 3 syringes saved up, and died at a certain point and lost them all, it frustrated me a little bit, but from my few hours I've always had access to at least one syringe, so it's not too bad. Speaking of resurrecting, the checkpoint system can sometimes be a pain, however I only once found myself really far from where I'd died at. But for example, if you're near a new checkpoint and die before it, it can be quite annoying to have to re-do everything you just did. Checkpoints aren't as often as you may think, so just remember to be careful and always find a new weapon, because like I said they break pretty fast. In my experience, the game never leaves you empty handed, there will always be another weapon somewhere in your level, you just have to find it. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to encounter an enemy you can't fight, except of course for the strong ones that aren't meant to be killed. I'll explain more about that in the next section.
Stealth, hiding, and Amy's gift, in my opinion are things that throw a nice twist on this game.
I'll start out with stealth, seeing as later it becomes quite the essential to survival. You can sneak by pressing R3, which will make Lana (and Amy if you hold her hand) crouch down and move slower. When barely applying pressure to the stick in any direction, it will make Lana move very slowly and very silently, you can also do this standing up but it's a bit more difficult. Sneaking is essential later on during some parts because there are enemies that you cannot kill, and you must go around them, but be careful, as there is usually something on the ground that can alert them to your presence, regardless of how slow you're sneaking. This ties into the next part where I explain Amy's gift. She has/developed a weird gift that allows her to aid Lana in a supernatural way, through the drawing of glyphs on her pad, for example, the first glyph you run across is the Silence glyph, that will allow Amy to create a dome of energy around a specified area that will cancel out any and all sounds within it, so if you open a noisy door, or step on some glass while in this dome, you'll be completely safe from the enemy's ears. When you initiate the power, you aim where it'll be launched and can direct it to where it will land as it's flying. This is pretty useful if you want to arch it, or can't turn Amy enough toward where you want it to land, but it can be bad if there are objects in the way, as it has a tendency of running into things before it reaches your ideal target. You can use Amy's abilities three times per ability. You find the glyphs on the walls, and you tell Amy to draw it down on her pad, which takes a few seconds for her to complete. But like I said, I've never been in a situation where I've needed one and not had one.
There are parts where you need to hide in order to keep you and Amy safe, and they usually require a distraction or a delay in the enemy's pursuit. For example, there is a part where a giant mutated monster type thing breaks down a door and you have to avoid it at all costs. The first time I went through that level, there was a gate next to the door it came out of, and I hadn't known about it yet, so I opened the gate and got Amy out of the locker she was hiding in. The thing then busted the door down and had direct access to me and Amy, and killed me instantly. Second time around, I kept the gate closed, and it had to run all the way around in order to get us, which gave us time to hide in the locker before it arrived, saving us. The second instance is the distractions, there is a part where you need to cause a guard to leave his post so he'll open a closed gate preventing you from moving on, and you do this by activating a phone booth, causing it to ring. At that moment, you must either have had Amy hide in the locker nearby beforehand, or quickly take her to the locker and hide, as the guard wastes no time getting to the source of the interference in his night watch duty. You can hide under desks, or in lockers. So far I haven't seen any other spots you can hide. I think I'm pretty much done here, so we'll be moving on to the end, where I talk about the characters and their mechanics.
Amy is mute, and cannot speak. You learn this pretty much in the opening cinematic. What you also learn is there's something different about her. She sends out a sort-of psychic vibe (if you watched the opening, you'll probably understand what I mean.) Amy actually proves to be quite useful in the sense that she can use powers, and do actions that Lana normally can't. For example, there are holes that Lana can't 'fit' through. (I add quotations because the holes are actually pretty large, and Lana could clearly fit through them if she tried... Kinda silly, but whatever :P) When you tell Amy to go into one of these holes, she can then press buttons for you, grab an item then you need, or open doors that are locked from the outside. Additionally, Amy is apparently skilled with computers and locks, and can hack them, which takes a little while, anywhere from 10-20 seconds. Amy can also be told to stand in certain areas and wait, which allows for her to help control essential parts of a puzzle. For example, there is a part where you need to tell Amy to stand on an elevator, then send her up to the next level with the elevator controls that are a bit away so she can press a button to open a gate. Amy will also passively heal you when you're near her, which can be sped up by holding her hand. A note for any players/future players: always hold Amy's hand. I've caught her wandering off by herself when I let go, even for a moment. So it's good to tell her to stay still or hold her hand for a good lot of the time. So if you hate escorting or protecting people in games, Amy redeems herself by being pretty helpful in a good number of situations. It could have definitely been much, much worse. Just protecting her would have been extremely annoying and frustrating, but her abilities really make up for the fact that she is defenseless.
Lana is Amy's sworn guardian, although I haven't finished the game yet, so I'm not sure of their relation, whether it be family or friend, but she shows some serious concern for Amy, although at the same time, doesn't much seem like her mother. More like a big sister, if anything. Out of the two, Lana is probably the least useful. She's usually the one you really end up caring about, as she's a lot more prone to death than Amy is. Often times it's obvious that you should just leave Amy in a location and deal with any dangers before proceeding. So far nothing has gotten to Amy while I've been away and you never have to stray too far from her. Lana is pretty weak, and can only take about 3-5 hits before she dies (in normal mode) and is completely dependent of Amy from chapter 2 on. What I mean by this is that she becomes infected and Amy's healing powers are the only prevention of fully turning. The longer you're away from Amy, the faster her transition goes, which will trigger a change in skin texture, eye color, and vision. Her vision will start to become red and blurry, and she'll become slower and weaker. Eventually, if she goes long enough without Amy, she inevitably dies. This is where the syringes come in the most handy, as they will postpone the transition for a period of time, and can return Lana to a normal state, even from the worst levels of infection, so it's wise to use the syringes late when she's about to turn, rather than sooner, seeing as there's no downside to waiting, granted you don't wait too long and accidentally meet your end. Lana can sprint from danger if she finds herself defenseless, and can sneak and hide. The sprint only lasts a certain time, so use it in panic situations only. Lana can hold Amy's hand to be healed quickly, and to keep her close as you navigate the levels. You can also hold her hand to feel her heartbeat (dualshock 3 pulses.) Her heartbeat will raise when there's any danger nearby, no matter what it be, even if she can't see it. Although I must say I think they did really good with the dualshock caused by the heartbeat. Gives a great feel for how Amy's feeling, in my opinion. In the first level, Lana picks up a radio that straps on, and on the back strap is a green light showing her infection level, which is pretty much a feel for your HP/when you need to return to Amy/use a syringe. Green of course means healthy, yellow is caution/when the infection starts turning you, and red is when you should start to consider using a syringe or returning to Amy if you don't have any.
One thing I must absolutely mention before I end the review is, when you exit the game, you will not load it back up on your last checkpoint. You must start the chapter over. Which can be pretty annoying... So if you don't feel like you'll be playing long, take a break at the beginning of the chapter until you have some more time to commit to it.
I think that's about all I have for you, but all in all in the end, the game can be quite puzzling in some spots and challenging in others. You'll probably die at least a few times, and maybe get frustrated at it too, but that just makes the victory even better. Like I said, if you appreciate survival horror I can almost definitely say you'll like AMY. It's a nice twist on the genre with some nice puzzles to keep your brain spinning while you get your way through all the horror elements. The story seems quite intriguing and I'm anticipated to finish it. Ultimately for $10 I'd say you're getting your money's worth if you like the genre and are willing to learn the somewhat odd combat that goes along with it. I don't feel like I've wasted a dime, and I only give it 4 stars out of 5 because of the odd-ish combat and some minorly frustrating things about the saving/progress. So have fun if you decide to play, and I hope this review helped if you felt confused on whether you'd like it or not.