Originally slated for a retail release, Ubisoft Shanghai’s I Am Alive made the switch to a downloadable title after falling off the radar a few times. Now, it’s here and the game is looking to bring post apocalyptic survival with a Book of Eli vibe to Xbox Live and PSN. With the strong end-of-the-world setting, will the story and gameplay be satisfying enough to warrant a purchase, even for those who have waited so long for this title?
Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of I Am Alive.
An Eerie Post Apocalyptic Setting
I Am Alive is a dark, strange, and lonely game. One year after “The Event” that struck the Earth, everything on its surface has become a wasteland where buildings have been left in shambles and toxic dusts float freely in the atmosphere. With everyone that is left alive struggling for survival, an unnamed man will set out on an adventure in hopes to find his family in a wasted land full of looters and people who are willing to do anything for the sake of survival. Using only what he can find in the streets, I Am Alive is one of the games that shows realism to its setting and story.
With so many games sporting a post-apocalyptic setting, like Fallout and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I must say that I Am Alive impressed me with its visual presentation. The setting was really able to portray a feeling of despair, struggle, and desperation. Conveyed in somewhat of a black and white picture, the developers behind I Am Alive did a phenomenal job in creating a mood to match the scenery. At first, I thought the black and white color would ruin the intended mood, but as I played through the four hour campaign, the drab color scheme and attention to detail evoked the appropriate emotion.
Survival and Adventure Gameplay
The gameplay of I Am Alive can be compared to Uncharted with a mix of a Silent Hill atmospheric setting. Just like Nathan Drake in the Uncharted games, the man who is the protagonist of I Am Alive will be climbing buildings and hopping from one area to another. While Nathan Drake can hold into ledges or bars indefinitely, the unnamed man can’t due to the game’s Stamina bar. You’ll have to watch it and make sure it doesn’t fully deplete. To add some realism to I Am Alive, the character in the game can’t pull off the same acrobatic feats that Nathan Drake does while traversing various structures. Therefore, you must be hasty in controlling your character since there is a good amount of platforming and I’m sure you don’t want to die by falling. If you happen to have something in your inventory that replenishes your stamina (ex: water), use it but don’t forget that everything in the game is scarce.
As for the means of survival, you will be using two things; trusting your instinct and conserving ammunition (or the other items that you can use as a weapon throughout the game). The plethora of looters and people that are left alive in the game will try to mug you when they spot you. If you happen to be out of ammo, you will have to rely on your bluffing skill. Some enemies within the game can be scared easily by pointing a gun at them while others will require more action. Since ammo is hard to find — when I say scarce, I mean it… like maybe one or two bullets at a time — you’ll most likely be relying on your empty gun to bluff your way through situations and hope for the best. Aside from the empty gun, you’ll come across some items that can also be used for personal defense.
The looters and other people you’ll encounter are doing everything they can to survive. If you happen to come across a subway with a homeless man and you try to approach him, don’t be too surprised if that person turns out to be hostile as anyone can be hiding weapons and looking to take your things. The best way to prevent yourself from dying is to avoid these scenarios whenever possible and do whatever it takes to make it to your family in one piece.
Be the Hero
Besides the looters and other vicious people that you’ll encounter, there are some good eggs to be found. Throughout the game, you will come across some people that will seek your help. If you have the time to be the hero and save everyone, you can do so by simply talking to the person and completing their request. There is really no change in the story if you decide to do this, but if you wish to get all achievements, you will be have to spend time hunting every survivor down.
A Bad Save System & Checkpoints
It’s possible to make considerable progress in a chapter only to end up dead without any saves. When this happens, you have to go back to very beginning of that chapter. One of the issues that I found annoying within the game is the horrible save and checkpoint systems. To make I Am Alive somewhat challenging, you will only have a certain amount of tries. Once you have used them all, you have no choice but to go back to the very beginning. Personally, I find this to be annoying as I’ve been playing the game on its hardest difficulty and, with no retries, it’s tough. It is worth mentioning that retries are scattered throughout the game, but they are scarce (like everything else). So you will have to do some serious exploring to make sure you’re fully prepared for those unexpected deaths.
Somewhat Dated Visuals
I Am Alive was originally announced back in 2008, but the game received several delays. That being said, I Am Alive’s visual presentation looks rather dated. If you have been watching the game from the beginning and expect amazing graphics that will blow you away, I’m sorry to say that I Am Alive does not impress in this category. The characters and the environments within the game look rough around the edges. That’s not to say the game looks completely terrible because there is still some detail present in the design.
Along with the dated visuals, there are noticeable glitches, although none of them are game-breaking. The glitches occur with the visuals where sometimes you will see textures missing on the floor or it will take a long time for something to load up. Expect frequent pop-ins within the game as well.
I Am Alive succeeds in every way imaginable when it comes to delivering a story and an eerie atmospheric setting that lets the player feel the lingering despair of a long lost civilization. The sense of realism and genuinity within I Am Alive are awe-inspiring and they will captivate you. However, the appalling save system and checkpoints are something to take note of before deciding if this game is for you. While the visuals aren’t up to the standards set by today’s games, I Am Alive is a title worth checking out.
[Editor’s Note: I Am Alive was reviewed on the Xbox 360 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]I Am Alive Review,