GAMERSYDE | X360, PS3 Friday, April 29, 2011 | 1:05 PM

First Look at AMY

First Look at AMY

For a little while now, PSN and XBLA games have not ceased to amaze us. After releasing Red Johnson’s Chronicles, a very pleasant adventure game, the developers of Lexis Numérique invited us to discover their upcoming game, a survival horror entitled AMY. Persuaded as we were of the seriousness of the French studio, but also very excited at the prospect of seeing a game developed by Paul "Flashback" Cuisset, we faced the many dangers of the Parisian subway system to find out for ourselves what this ambitious title was all about. For our first impressions and an exclusive interview of Paul Cuisset, just come inside.



Small studio, big game?

Lexis Numérique is not your typical developer since they work completely on their own, without the help (and control) of a publisher. There are of course both advantages and disadvantages to work that way but at least it allowed Lexis Numérique to put all the money they had for AMY in the game itself, instead of the marketing campaign. Whether or not it was the right thing to do still remains to be seen but it partly explains why the game will be released on PSN in June (and on Xbox Live Arcade a bit later). As stated before, AMY is quite an ambitious title, as the small studio had to create their own graphics engine from scratch. With a team of 10 people, one can’t help but think of the way games used to be developed back when Flashback was released. Why make their own 3D engine instead of using UE3, for example? Two reasons for that: the first one is that UE3 was way too expensive for them to purchase; the second one is that it permitted them to know exactly what they could do with it, how far they could go to make the most of it.

And clearly, they seem to have done a pretty good job. Indeed, AMY looks really impressive for a downloadable game and it should prove to everyone that PSN/XBLA titles can be on par with high budget games. From what we could see, the environments seem really detailed, with great character models and nice special effects. They even went as far as to make specific shaders for the heroine’s pantyhose, not to mention the work they have achieved on the way light reflects on the characters’ hair and clothes. This gives the game a very realistic look, which goes hand in hand with the motion captured animations. In-game reflections in mirrors are also part of the package deal and can actually come in handy when hiding in a closet while keeping an eye on a lurking monster.



The sun’ll come tomorrow, or not

You play the role of Lana, a normal young woman who is about to face terrible events that will change the face of the earth forever. A main protagonist that is actually very close to those found in Lovecraft’s novels come to think of it. The game opens up in a train, as Lana is talking to a very nice ticket collector. Life seems peaceful, everyone is enjoying their trip but all of a sudden, a tragic accident happens. After staying unconscious for a while, Lana wakes up to find out that the ticket collector is not so nice anymore and that the other survivors seem to have become quite aggressive zombie-like creatures. What happened? Well, a virus happened, contaminating most of the population and turning them into dangerous monsters. Unfortunately, Lana is no exception, she now also carries the virus in her blood.

Now we did not get to see the introduction of the game ourselves, so what you’ve just read is simply what we were told to let us know about the main storyline before seeing the game in action. The demo we were shown actually took place a few hours after the accident, and more importantly some time after meeting Amy. Being infected with the virus, Lana is of no particular interest to the creatures she encounters, but she is no longer on her own so she will have to fight in order to protect Amy. The weapons she can use are basically ordinary objects that can break after some time. Accompanied by Amy, a little girl who seems to be a mute, Lana will become the child’s guardian angel while the girl will be the young woman’s salvation. Indeed, for some reason, Amy is gifted with powers that allow her to slow down the infection and even stop it from spreading as long as Lana holds her hand. More than ever, this is the story of a relationship between a child and a grown-up, but also between the player and the two girls.



When Silent Hill meets ICO

In a world that has become hostile and unpredictable, running away and keeping a low profile is usually the best option, which is why you will be able to ask Amy to hide when necessary. When the demo started, Lana was looking for the little girl who had run away because she had gotten scared. Quite a logical and realistic behavior given her age, and you can tell that the developers paid a lot of attention to her reactions in order to make her more human, thus more endearing. Because the game revolves around the relationship between Lana and Amy, it is essential the player does not feel he is accompanied by a mere bot. That’s why Amy is useful to Lana in more than just one way: she can crawl into tiny passageways, activate a switch for you or use her flashlight (or turn it off not to draw too much attention).

When Lana is on her own, the virus starts to take over little by little and to spread through her veins, transforming her physically in real time. Even ambient noises change as she undergoes her mutation, as a reminder of the inescapable fate that awaits her. What makes the game even more immersive in such circumstances is that there is no single HUD to indicate how much time you have left. Well, not exactly to be fair. Much like in Dead Space, your back will give you a hint as you carry around some kind of Geiger device that goes from green to red depending on Lana’s health. To slow the progression of the virus, she can also use med kits but they are pretty scarce so better kept for emergency situations.

Because the story itself demands that Lana can hold Amy’s hand to stay human, it is no surprise to see that the game uses a similar system to ICO’s. It means that, contrary to Fable 3, you need to maintain R1 to take the little girl’s hand which gave Lexis Numérique a lot of work. Indeed, making sure that there’d be no glitches or odd animations was a much more complicated task than they had ever thought. But in the end, they realized it was clearly worth it in order to make the best possible game. But holding Amy’s hand does not only keep the virus away, it also gives you feedback as you can feel and hear the child’s heartbeats. That way you can be informed of the presence of a nearby threat. It is hard not to think of Silent Hill’s radio, and it will hopefully be as effective as in Konami’s game.



First Impressions


With AMY, Lexis Numérique wants to prove that downloadable games have a lot to offer in terms of content, experience, tech and quality. At Gamersyde, we really want to believe in this ambitious project that could very well be the birth of a new series. The team put a lot of effort in delivering a cinematic experience, with dynamic camera angles and the use of split screen (when the player has missed something important). Moreover, we have been told that it will take between 5 and 6 hours to complete the 6 chapters of the game, 5 to 6 hours of stealth, hide and seek and combat. Of course, playing in the highest difficulty setting (in which Lana’s infection spreads faster and the young woman is weaker and has less stamina) might be a good way to make it last even longer. Planned on PSN (a 360 version should also follow shortly after) for a June release, it will cost you $9.99 to play the game. It seems like a very good deal and we sincerely hope we won’t be disappointed. We may have a good feeling about all this, but it still needs to be confirmed. We will find out soon enough, so stay tuned.

Interview Paul Cuisset (FR)
Paul Cuisset Interview (EN)

All comments

Commented on 2011-04-29 15:14:17
those small pics in this page make things look so good then you click em to see full size and they are awful lol

always fooled
Commented on 2011-04-29 15:27:47
More games like this needs to be made.
Commented on 2011-04-29 16:34:44
LOL...Gympie Hospital? Really? That's pretty funny...
Commented on 2011-04-29 16:53:25
I don't know anything about the developer's past work, but the concept sounds great. Love when you have interesting female protagonists in games, Silent Hill 3 or BG&E.

What is the gameplay like? Survival horror, hiding sounds like Siren. Plays like Silent Hill?

EDIT: Great interview, with the probing questions. I still haven't tried Ico, maybe time to get a PS2 :P
Commented on 2011-04-29 20:55:17 In reply to digi_matrix
The Game looks like a mix of Siren/Silent hill/Fatal Frame, not to bad in my opinion, maybe if i have time i will give it a go.
here is some gameplay that i found enjoy

http://youtu.be/UpjmwjwZ258
Commented on 2011-04-29 21:16:05 In reply to Duckman
Posted by Duckman
The Game looks like a mix of Siren/Silent hill/Fatal Frame, not to bad in my opinion, maybe if i have time i will give it a go.
here is some gameplay that i found enjoy

http://youtu.be/UpjmwjwZ258
Holy shit, that sold me on it. Creepy as hell, can see what the dude meant about dead space hud on the back.
Commented on 2011-04-29 23:16:35 In reply to digi_matrix
You can see the little yellow dot in her back though.
Commented on 2011-04-30 15:33:02 In reply to digi_matrix
"maybe time to get a PS2"

how the hell did you survive the past decade in gaming without a PS2?
You poor thing.

Anyway Ico is being remastered on PS3, available before the holidays.
Commented on 2011-04-30 18:19:33 In reply to GangStarr
Posted by GangStarr
those small pics in this page make things look so good then you click em to see full size and they are awful lol

always fooled
I don't understand that comment. To me they look so pretty that I am inclined to believe that they are artworks.

Flashback is a great game so I sure am interested in AMY.
Posted by Surfaced
how the hell did you survive the past decade in gaming without a PS2?
I have survived very nicely without PlayStations. You don't see them in my Avatar gif.
Commented on 2011-04-30 19:50:12 In reply to Janman
Posted by Janman
I have survived very nicely without PlayStations. You don't see them in my Avatar gif.
Dear god the original PS and PS2 had some of the best exclusive games everr. A continuing trend. You missed out man.
Commented on 2011-05-01 00:01:09 In reply to starcrafter
Posted by starcrafter
Dear god the original PS and PS2 had some of the best exclusive games everr. A continuing trend. You missed out man.
I had PS 1, Tenchu games were my favourite! Went went to xbox, and bec of finances never got future sony consoles.
Commented on 2011-05-01 01:43:32
How can you be a gamer and not a own a PS2? I don't understand that!
Commented on 2011-05-01 01:44:45 In reply to starcrafter
Posted by starcrafter
You missed out man.
Well there is 10 gaming machines that I am familiar with in my Avatar gif. Sure, I may have missed some games, but maybe some people have missed some games (even good ones) that I have played? ;)
Commented on 2011-05-01 05:43:50 In reply to Janman
Posted by Janman
Well there is 10 gaming machines that I am familiar with in my Avatar gif. Sure, I may have missed some games, but maybe some people have missed some games (even good ones) that I have played? ;)
Nah man, we all have all consoles ever made. It's just you missing out :P
Commented on 2011-05-01 06:06:02
by the time the PS2 was worth buying, the Xbox was coming out, which had Halo!

That, however, has nothing to do with AMY, which I'm very interested in and I like that Gamersyde is covering more obscure titles lately.
Commented on 2011-05-01 10:13:28 In reply to Duckman
Looking at that video makes me sad. I miss the survivor horror genre soo much. :(
Project Zero, the old SH,Haunting Ground etc.....we probably won't see something like this anymore (i blame for that all of the casuals that buy every single piece of shit shooter this gen). :'(
Commented on 2011-05-01 10:47:18
oh man, that's so freaky how you can see how infected you are in the mirror.

Ugh.
Commented on 2011-05-01 17:22:42 In reply to Seth
Ah im sick of people complaining how this isnt their survival horror game, I hear that in ever game like this!!!!!! enough !!!!! if this or the rest of the awesome like games coming out dont tickle your feather then stop watching it! I grew up with horror based games, and these new games are doing just that, the only reason you think they arent its because of the graphics back then which made everything look choppy n more mysteriously scary, now that we got more defined monsters etc. you call it otherwise??? please...give it a chance before you judge, amy is looking beautiful and scary, can't wait AAA+

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