You'd be forgiven if you've never heard of French studio Lexis Numerique. But that doesn't mean you should ignore its upcoming downloadable survival horror game, Amy. Amy is the work of designer Paul Cuisset, who created Flashback, an Amiga game that eventually made its way to a number of different platforms and is considered by many to be a cult classic. Amy is nothing like Flashback, however, but is rather a creepy action adventure featuring two lead characters: Lana and her companion, the 8-year-old Amy. At E3 2011, we sat down with Lexis Numerique's Djamil Kemal to see the game in action and learn more about its interesting stars.
The year is 2034, and it's the Christmas holiday. As Lana, you are riding on a subway train that suddenly derails, knocking you out. When you awake, the entire world seems to have changed. Its citizens have turned into hideous zombies, and the authorities are on your tail for reasons unknown. But your biggest enemy isn't a zombie or a soldier, but rather a virus living inside you. You see, Lana has been infected and must fight to avoid turning into a zombie herself. The goal: make your way to a hospital, where hopefully you can find a treatment.
The demo began in the subway station, where, as Lana, we had to search for young Amy. The pair's relationship is an important aspect of the game, though Kemal was vague about the exact nature of their relationship. Players are meant to discover exactly what these two mean to each other over the course of the game. But Amy isn't just a companion--she's your key to survival. While you can find healing items that temporarily stave off the effects of the infection, Amy is infused with a special power that lets her heal you simply by holding your hand. Amy also has a few other helpful abilities, one of which is to function sort of like Silent Hill's radios. With Amy in tow, you know when enemies are nearby because the controller starts to rumble in the rhythm of a heartbeat. The closer you are to the enemy, the faster the beat pounds. Amy also has a flashlight, so when the two of you are separated, you might be plunged further into darkness. The youngster apparently has other tricks up her sleeve, but what they are, and how she came about these powers, is currently a mystery.
The opening moments of the demo were very atmospheric. Particles of dust floated in the air, lights flickered, and blood seeped from under a nearby door. In moments like these, when you are separated from your companion, you have a sense of urgency. The more time you spend away from Amy, the closer you come to a "game over" screen. As Lana falls victim to the virus spreading through her, her eyes darken and veins spread across her skin. The environments get progressively redder and more sinister, but when you heal, your surroundings return to normal. This is a great-looking effect, and Lana looks truly gruesome as she approaches her potential demise.
Lana is not a physical powerhouse, so in some cases, you may need to hide from monsters. In the demo, Lana hid from a nearby creature by hiding within a locker and peeking out to make sure it was safe to emerge. One nice touch was a broken mirror across the hallway, which let us see if the zombie had left the area completely. Once we emerged, we could admire just how childlike Amy reacted to her situation. She would hold her hands up to her mouth in horror or scan the environments in fear. But like most children, Amy is curious, so she might wander off to explore, in which case you can call her back to your side. She isn't just a healer, however. Amy also helps you solve puzzles by crawling into small spaces and accessing important areas. And in some cases, she can serve as monster bait.
You don't always hide, however. You can also take zombies head-on, and the demo featured a battle between Lana and a lanky zombie that approached on all fours before standing up. Lana fought off her growling foe with a wooden plank, but combat isn't button-mashy. Rather, you must dodge and try to put distance between you and your attacker. Zombies tire as they fight, which gives you a chance to land some choice blows. The demo closed with a look at a separate 3D model for a character called Father Jonah. This priest is trying to corral the survivors and fight off the growing zombie threat, but we got the impression that there's more to this man of the cloth than simple altruism.
Amy is a nice-looking game, and it sounds like the kind of game Silent Hill fans in particular could really dig. This survival horror game is coming soon to the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Steam.