We used to laugh at pundits like this who say video games are worthless trash -- or worse, a tool of the devil meant to torment your soul. That is, until we played Amy, which proves those sentiments exactly right.

A vestige of the nearly extinct survival horror genre, the game is horrifying for all the wrong reasons. If you manage to survive more than a few hours of its nauseating indignities, you are made of stronger stuff than us.

Amy throws a mask over your head and beats you with a crowbar, asking $10 for the privilege. If there's a single redeeming quality in its plethora of assaults on entertainment and intelligence, we were unable to find it. Its "controls" are more like suggestions, the graphics are choppier than 1930s stop-motion animation and the script appears to have been constructed via Mad Libs.

You play as Lana, the caretaker of a mute, possibly autistic girl named Amy. You're on a train together that's suddenly overrun by zombie-like monsters, and you've got to use your wits and superhuman patience to navigate your way out of the nightmarish mess.

In gamedom, escort missions are almost universally the most obnoxious parts, and Amy is sure to comprise itself almost entirely of the annoyance. It's infuriating to be forced to hold the hand of a defenseless cohort who does everything in her power to get you killed at every turn, forcing you to backtrack to the most recent checkpoint to rehash the farce.

Much of what the game has you do with Amy is borderline child abuse. Lana is comfortable leaving Amy alone with a sketchy cab driver she's just met, and inexplicably smacks her on the butt as she sends her on her way through dark, tiny passageways to flip this or that switch. Amy, though, does far worse to you, disobeying your commands to give your position away to enemies or spoil plans for multi-step puzzles.

An early chapter forces you to navigate a pair of lifts -- you on one and Amy on the other -- to get Amy to open a security door so you can move on. There's a command to get Amy to stay put, accompanied by an irritatingly long animation, but it took us half an hour to get her to stay in the right place and pull off the simple maneuver. It took everything we had to keep on playing rather than succumb to our will and not only quit the game but smash our TV to death with a rock.

We're baffled as to how a game with so many deal-breaking problems somehow made it through beta testing and presentations and got the go-ahead.

Or maybe the game turned out exactly as intended, as a tool to punish and torment you for spending so much time sitting on your couch with a controller in hand.

Rating: 0/10

Amy ($10), was developed by Vector Cell, published by Lexis Numerique and is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Rated Mature. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at becauseitoldyouso.com and follow him on Twitter:@philvillarreal


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