I Am Alive
Windows PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Contains: Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
I Am Alive tells the story of Adam, a husband and father of one who has finally reached the city of Haventon in search of his wife and daughter. Ever since “The Event” took place a year ago, the world is not the same. A global environmental disaster wiped out a habitual environment for living things with it killing off a majority of the planet. All that remains is ruined cities and a toxic haze that lurks in the air, with those who are fortunate to be alive, fighting to survive.
It’s a simple plot with little explained about “The Event” or the outcome of the rest of the planet outside of Haventon, but it’s nice to have a title where players are placed in the aftermath of a disaster instead hundreds of cutscenes explaining what happened. Adam is a likable and interesting character, but a little more background on him would have been nice (along with the supporting characters). Whereas 99% of games have a main antagonist, I Am Alive oddly enough does not have one, which to me was a great choice. In a hellish environment like this one, everyone is your enemy and trust is the matter of life and death, so having a super villain would have been inappropriate for a title like this.
Gameplay wise, the title mixes both Assassin’s Creed platforming and first person action sequences. Platforming itself is most of the game, with players have the ability to climb, swing, and jump from numerous pieces of objects in the destructed city. There is not as much freedom as something like Assassin’s Creed, but I enjoyed the platforming overall. It’s just something about climbing a towering skyscraper hundreds of feet in the air that gives an adrenaline rush. One issue I did have is the controls, especially, with the platforming. Sometimes, your character won’t be responsive in making a leap or will jump the incorrect way. Controlling the camera is a nightmare in these parts of the game as well.
I Am Alive is definitely no walk in the park in terms of difficulty, and one aspect of the title that takes part in making your life a living hell is the stamina meter. Now in no way is the stamina meter a bad thing, it’s actually presents a nice challenge to the game. Every time your character runs, jumps, climbs, breaths in toxic fumes, your stamina meter depletes. Once the meter hits zero, you’re character begins to lose health or loses his grip on a ledge. Overall, the stamina bar forces the player to plan out how to climb a skyscraper more carefully to prevent, you know, death. Also, I found myself on the edge of my seat every time I climbed an object, so it definitely keeps you on your feet.
One big prop to the development team is the production design for the title. The destructive environment that is the city of Haventon is designed so well that it’s truly a treat for the eyes. In one memorizing sequence, you climb the tallest skyscraper in the city. To stand on the edge of the tower and look at the ruined city below is one of the most rewarding yet shocking images to set your eyes upon. However, all is not particular well in the graphics area. Though the lighting design and grainy look of the game worked, the graphics in general seemed severely outdated. From blurring walls to environments loading, the game is not the prettiest in terms of basic graphics, but the design overall is excellent.
Though, all enemies are essentially the same, they are a challenge nonetheless. The minimal fighting elements are effective in that it’s not all run and gun, but players are truly challenged with the lack of resources. I may have received a total of 15 bullets the entire game. Every time you are ambushed, players must find a way to strategize which enemies to attack first (the one with the gun or the one with armor) or to surprise kill them. There’s a limited amount of combat maneuvers one can do in I Am Alive, but the game more so focuses on the depth of the action sequences rather than weapon types and power ups. Also, the character interaction with enemies is beyond brilliant. For example, some enemies will retreat if you point a gun at them, loaded or not loaded. However, point a gun or run away from someone who does have one, they instantly fire upon you. It’s interactions like these that truly make I Am Alive one of kind.
The title is roughly four hours long, which is fairly on the short side in my opinion. The title could have easily been extended a good hour or so because the ending itself had potential to continue. Throughout the title, save points are only in between chapters, which are roughly 30 min or so in length. This is where the challenge of the title is more of a nuisance rather than enjoyable. Players gain restarts throughout the game by helping those who don’t want to kill you with providing them food and other survival items. You help a folk out, you get a restart. Every time you die, players are forced to use a restart for a checkpoint and once you run out, back to the start of the chapter for you. It would not have been bad if the developers had allowed to save between checkpoints instead of chapters .
Overall, I Am Alive is a well balanced title that manages to demonstrate a horrifying look at the aftermath of an environmental disaster. Ubisoft Shanghai created a world full of destruction, violence, and sadness with a realistic spin to it. If you can get past the weak controls, goofy save system, and lack luster graphics, it’s an rewarding experience that will send a chill down your spine and may even get a tear in your eye (one scene in particular is quite possibly one of the most disturbing and saddening images I can recount seeing in a game). If you’re looking for a title that doesn’t quite fit in with conventional adventure games on the market, check this one out. After playing a game like this, you may want to stock up on bottled water, first aid kits, and rat meat.
How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!
- Brilliant Design
- Balanced Platforming
- Challenging Action/Enemies
- Great Character Response System
- So-So Graphics
- Frusterating Controls
- Goofy Camera
- Unfair Save System
- A Little on the Short Side