Around this time of year, we all like firing up our favorite slasher flick or scary game in the spirit of the season, but it's also a good time to give pause to think about one of gaming's most unique genres.
Little Amy must be protected by Lana in a terrifying world inhabited by infected human beings. When you think of the survival horror genre, what you have in mind are the classic psychological horror games on the one hand (Silent Hill) and the “modern” action horror games on the other hand (Dead Space). But we don’t really like labels and we believe AMY, while being closer to classic survival horror games is something quite different. The special relationship between Amy and Lana (the character you play), might appeal to those who liked ICO.
Last but not least, the fact that you’re infected and fight against a virus that threatens to transform you into a zombie might appeal those who are looking to experiment new gameplays.
Can you describe to us Lana and Amy’s relationship and how will this affect the game experience?
This is a very important element of the gameplay and we have just released on video that describes the relationship between the two characters.
First of all, we truly hope to do a good game and that those who will try it will have a great experience. I hope enough people purchase this downloadable game so that it may continue on to be a full franchise. Survival horror is one of the only genres defined not by gameplay mechanics, but by theme, atmosphere, subject matter, and design philosophy. Developed by VectorCell and published by Lexis Numerique, AMY follows the survival of Lana and an autistic child named Amy.
A lot of us here have been really interested in the game since it was announced, and we have had a chance to interview the team behind AMY.
The fact that you’re often weaker than your enemies and can often decide to hide rather than fight might remind of classic horror games but also stealth action games. One of them is that a few years ago, it was possible to launch a good indie game, as long as it was good enough. Before finalizing the scenario of AMY, we worked quite a lot on the other characters and the background story so that there are yet many things to unveil.
Because we’re a small team, our key focus is about making the game and we can’t afford spending as much effort as we would like on communication. It's also one that runs completely against the grain of the conventional wisdom about game design. Often compared to Ico, AMY puts a huge emphasis on survival and protection of someone who is defenseless.
In addition, its very specific gameplay is based on several elements that may appeal to a wider audience than mere survival horror fans.


Today, it’s harder and harder to have a success in retail when you’re not a $60M game with a very strong franchise and a huge marketing budget.
As per how we see Amy’s future, it’s always hard to predict the success or failure of a game.
If these experiences weren't scary, their gameplay decisions might be considered poor design, but coupled with effective atmosphere those same conventions serve to amplify fear. On the other hand, digital distribution is emerging in all entertainment fields (video games but also music and movies). Survival horror games were some of the first to approach game design in terms of emotion, and as such, they're some of the most important titles in bridging the gap between art and games.
What gives us hope is that during our playtests, all those who tried AMY wanted to go on playing and gave us a great feedback. We know some players prefer having a box, but back in the time is was hard to go from vinyl discs to CDs and from CDs to mp3. In addition, we’re really pleased to see that the game is gathering momentum with more and more fans and increasing press awareness. We would all consider it a nightmare if we had to use vinyl every time we want to listen to a song.
Roberta Williams' first game, Mystery House, was a macabre Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery, as well as one of the very first graphical adventure games.
For video games, digital distribution even brings major good things for the players: innovative games are blooming and good games can now be affordable (the disc replication process is very expensive).
The Count followed the next year and the similarly themed Transylvania arrived in 1982, boasting colored graphics. Adventure games have always interpreted literary genres fairly directly, and none of these needed to alter the genre's foundations in order to work. They may have been genuinely creepy, but they weren't using the medium to frighten in a new way. The Atari 2600 made for a crude canvas, unable to lend much in the way of sights and sounds. Cleverly, James Andreasen put the emphasis on what the player couldn't see, rather than what he could.
Only the eyes of the on-screen character were visible , and he could only pierce through the darkness with a lit match, which would be snuffed out by a breeze as a monster entered the room.
Instead, he had to find items and look for new passages between the house's floors, all while avoiding the things that go bump in the night. This put enough pressure on the player and cast enough doubt that it created a tense game that could genuinely make you jump, despite the primitive blobs and boxes that made up its graphics. It should have been the start of a promising run for Andreasen, but alas, he was one of the casualties of the videogame crash that followed shortly thereafter, and his promising career was cut short.


Wizard Video's adaptation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre cast players as the homicidal Leatherface, but their interpretation of Halloween was far more interesting. The gory decapitation deaths were unusually graphic for the time, and the unpredictable gameplay always surprising as Myers jumped out from behind doors.
Unfortunately, Halloween arrived at the worst possible time for the Atari market, and Wizard Video was on their last leg. Before long, they were stretched so thin that carts were shipped with no label, and "Halloween" written on them by hand.
The game's programmer, Tim Martin, may not have had his moment of glory for his contribution to the horror genre, but he was soon vindicated when he released the seminal Spelunker, one of the first scrolling platform games, in 1983.
Exidy, which had already started the first controversy over violence in games with 1976's Death Race, took another crack at it a decade later in 1986. Chiller was a pretty straightforward light gun shooter, but its graphic depiction of torture and violence was unlike anything yet in gaming, as were the blood-curdling screams emitted by victims as their flesh was ripped from their bodies.
That Chiller never inspired much controversy can be largely owed to the fact that it wasn't popular (or presentable) enough to ever catch on in arcades. Despite the macabre imagery, these games didn't diverge much from their more brightly colored cousins.
SEGA's Ghost House was one of the more interesting games from this period, for actually having the gameplay designed around the theme. Although outwardly a side-scrolling platformer, the haunted house stages were full of traps and secrets, and the enemies were fast, powerful and intimidating, forcing players to learn the intricacies of the house and rely on their wits. Although this was, like other games mentioned here, a genre game (in this case an RPG) with horror themes applied, it made a real effort to pay more than lip service to its cinematic brethren. Characters that died could not be resurrected, and there weren't large havens of safety like the towns in a normal RPG. While it may not have been true survival horror, it was an important step in the right direction, and a major influence on Shinji Mikami when he created Resident Evil. It wasn't until 1986 that Jeff Tunnell began the journey that would make him the unwitting father of the modern survival horror game – an achievement that has gone widely overlooked in the years since.
As the co-founder of Dynamix, Tunnell is better known for classics like The Incredible Machine and The Adventures of Willy Beamish, but it was Project Firestart on the Commodore 64 that would prove to be one of his most difficult and most significant accomplishments.



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