I Am Alive Review
Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai
Platform: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
I Am Alive’s gripping suspense and survival mechanics, serves well for its post-apocalyptic feel. The game begins after a massive event, which I presume to be an earthquake, devastates cities all over the place. Any hope for rescue and relief has led to a toxic dust covering most if not all of the streets, and survivors are edgy and quick to ruin anything that stands in the way of their own survival.
The game then begins with your unnamed protagonist, who is roaming through the wreckage trying to rescue his wife and daughter, Julie and Mary respectively. When you stumble upon your apartment after overcoming some scary-looking (yet manageable) obstacles standing in your path. A lot of the story presents itself with your main character talking to a video camera, giving updates about what needs to be done. It brings a sliver of hope to the very bleak atmosphere.
I Am Alive presents some very compelling drama, which is amazing except for the almost unbearable controls. Getting around isn’t too bad. Jumping over gaps, climbing up poles and even doing some fun sliding isn’t too bad. However, your moves all affect your stamina. Once your stamina runs out, your character is able to use extra effort by hitting R1 while attempting something. Sometimes though, once your stamina runs out you can die instantly, which is especially awful if you’re a bit too late while climbing through something.
In addition to your main journey, you may also come across other survivors. While a grand majority of them seem to want your blood for some reason or another, you can avoid most confrontations by simply continuing about your business. A gun pointed at your head can turn into “Yeah, you better run!” without batting your eye if you just keep walking. Also, there are survivors that might request your help in finding medicine or other supplies, which are necessary for rescuing survivors. While rescuing them is presented solely as an option, completing these side missions grant you an extra ‘retry.’
Speaking of, that’s a mechanic I was personally disappointed in with I Am Alive. If you lose your health at all, you have the option to restart the chapter or to retry from a checkpoint. Here’s the catch; you only have a limited number of the checkpoint option before you absolutely must restart from the beginning of the chapter. I can see a lot of folks being disappointed by this as well, or maybe even mad. As much as you’ll have to reserve your those, you should also be able to conserve items very well. Until a decent way into my journey I only had about three items on me, and I needed to use them to keep myself going closer to another checkpoint or to help other survivors out. Be very careful–use your resources wisely or you’ll regret it many, many times.
It wouldn’t be completely fair to say I Am Alive is a bad game at all. It really isn’t. Even though the graphics could have been a bit smoother, the amount of detail for the environments were impressive. By the end of my time with I Am Alive, I was really glad to have played it! Was it worth the $15 price? That’s debatable depending on your preferences. Is it flawed? Absolutely. If the combat mechanics and the textures were improved a bit, this might get a higher score from me. In the end, I Am Alive is a fair post-apocalyptic horror game that’s hampered down by the controls.