I Am Alive Review
Constant tension and difficult emotional decisions make I Am Alive a powerful adventure.
- Tough choices affect your and others' survival
- Unnerving psychological combat system
- Constant tension in all of your actions
- Intriguing story elements conveyed through background details
- Suffocating visual and audio design heighten emotional connection.
- Intrusive heads-up display clashes with the raw aesthetics
- Unnecessary moments of hand-holding.
Your city is in ruins. Destroyed cars litter the decimated streets and lie dormant beside the crumbling buildings that struggle to rise above the twisted train tracks. Dust swirls and cloaks, choking anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in its suffocating gusts. And the people are in even worse shape than the tattered city they still call home. Society has disintegrated as quickly as the structures that used to cage in its residents. Some people travel in wolfish packs, scrounging on the weak to feed their insatiable desires. Others huddle with their loved ones, thankful just to survive another day. How will you react in this bleak world? I Am Alive effectively conveys the broken state of society when devastation hits and no police force exists to keep order. There is no good or bad here, just alive or dead, and the tough decisions you make to keep breathing ensure I Am Alive's emotional depth.
The protagonist is an unnamed man in search of his family. On the surface, the decision to leave the main character nameless seems strange, especially when the supporting cast members all have a moniker to call their own. But it makes sense when you consider the purpose of this survival-themed adventure. Through difficult decisions and a constant feeling of dread, you are the main character in I Am Alive. By painting only a cursory character in the starring role--determined, loyal, loving--and leaving the rest of his details unstated, I Am Alive immediately draws you into this world and establishes that you, not a digital construct, have to make the tough choices.
When the event hit, you were on the other side of the country. Four hours to fly across the country, almost a year to walk back home. But your family needs you. Hints of betrayal, where you somehow let down your kin at some point in the past, are touched on and make you wonder what unforgivable act was committed to bear such a terrible penance. Like most of the details, you never find out exactly why the main character is struggling with guilt. It's never explained what "the event" entailed, either. Was it an attack by a foreign nation? Homegrown terrorism? Natural disaster? It's left to your imagination, but the cause isn't important. Only the effect. And when he arrives at his apartment, long since abandoned, with no clue as to where his family has disappeared or if they're even alive, you care.
That bond is further strengthened by the appearance of a young girl. Mei is surrounded in a parking lot by angry men with bad intentions. She's alone, scared, and looks strikingly like your own daughter. In a flurry of violence, you slay those men because doing nothing would have made it impossible to live with yourself. Mei begins to trust you. Her mother has gone missing, and your protective instincts take over. Tied to your back, you carry her through the desolate remains. You establish an immediate connection with Mei because she's helpless, sweet, and doesn't deserve to live in this terrible world. She can't even remember what the city was like before the event hit. When she develops a fever, you rush to find medicine--it's an objective you must complete, but you need no encouragement. She's your only companion and your closest connection to your own family, so you do everything in your power to keep her safe.
Story details are kept to a minimum. Instead of pulling you out of the action with long cutscenes, most of the information is conveyed as you walk through this wasteland. At one point, you come across a group of survivors huddled together by a roaring fire in the heart of the subway. They see Mei on your back, tired and hungry, and they offer you some meat. You greedily accept their present because a piece of meat replenishes most of your health and stamina in one bite.
As you survey their camp, you come across a cage that is now filled with bones. Dog? Cat? Human? You can only wonder what sort of meat was handed to you. Later on, you find a starving, desperate woman struggling to carry onward. When you hand her a can of fruit, she shows her thanks and you feel good for saving someone in need. Walk by her position later, you find her hanging from a noose. You didn't need to go back, but you wanted to see how she was doing, and now you can't get that image out of your head.
With direct routes destroyed by the event, you have to climb to get to new areas. You go up drain pipes, across rails, and down ladders as you take hold of anything that supports your weight. As soon as you grab on to a ledge, your stamina drops, and the pounding music solidifies the idea that time is running out. You're not superhuman, just a regular man, and you will die if you run out of strength. So you move as quickly and precisely as possible. Your limited reserve of items can be used to recharge your stamina in a pinch, but each morsel is precious. You have to make your resources last, which tinges every climb with the pressure of failure. If you press too far and let your stamina go below its breaking point, it won't regenerate fully when you step back on solid ground. There's permanence to your actions in I Am Alive that makes everything you do take on added importance.
When you aren't clinging frantically to the side of a wall, you weave through the chaos of your new reality. Although you only travel through a small part of the city in I Am Alive, it feels like an entire world. The devastation cuts off the quickest path to your destination, so finding out how to get where you want to go takes patience and determination. On the street, a poisonous fog continually saps your stamina, so you have to find ways to rise above the cloud. If you climb up to a fire escape to catch your breath, you can survey the landscape. You may walk in the wrong direction for minutes at a time, trying to find a way to cross seemingly impassable obstacles. There's a feeling of dread that permeates all of your choices. If you go off to the wrong place, you might not be able to climb to clean air. You might die on the street. So your heart races, but you press on and hope that you don't get caught in the fog.
Very enjoyable adventure with a good story. A few small things keep it from being great, but it's definitely worth playing. Read more at: http://gameanight.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/i-am-alive-pc/
i prefer more free style combat not timed button presses..otherwise i would dl it...playing daddy day care doesn't seem appealing either .....its a bummer i wanted to like this one.
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@veskalin86 Only an idiot would pass his opinion as "fact".
This game looks good, but I really struggle from the review to get anything from it about the actual gameplay. In fact I get nothing about the gameplay. This review is good at describing the world and atmosphere, but really I want to know about the combat system, is it a open world, does your character level up like rpg element? You get absolutely nothing about this. I think this is very important especially when reviewing a game from a newish genre like this. Basically what I am saying is that the point of a review should be to help the reader decide whether to purchase the game r not. Based on this review i still dont know whether I want to as I know nothing about the actual game play, only that you have to make decisions along the way, as you do in almost every other game ever made.
@teknotel Yes, the review failed to describe the playability, well, here ya go, it wasn't really that good, it was rather bland, and you might be able to do one thing in only one area, the AI was amazingly realistic, the attack system with the melee weapon was always the same thing which bored me, because you couldn't really attack them, you just always got into a struggle where you would have to mash R1 to stab the other person, it isn't an open world, over all, I think this guy over rated this game, the only thing that constantly impressed me was the stamina system, it was arguably better than any of the Elder Scrolls system, but for this game, I'd give it a 7. The playability was not great.
@somerset99 I ended up downloading it blindly so to speak .. I actually didn't think it was very good which I guess is a matter of opinion. To the guy moaning about 'butthole Tom haters'..... I don't hate anyone, I have never even noticed a review nor was I aware there are people out there who hate 'Tom'. Constructive criticism is a good thing, gamespot is a fantastic site and I just struggled to learn anything about the gameplay, which is why I commented as I buy a lot of games. This is the first time I have ever commented on a game review. FYI.
@teknotel @somerset99 Maybe the atmosphere IS the gameplay, sherlock. Here's a hint: if a professional game critic doesn't mention specific things about the gameplay (which he did, you just didn't pay attention or didn't watch the footage) it's because there is nothing TO say. Hmmm what a concept i know. If something is clumsy and non-intuitive it will stand out. Hope it was worth trolling gamespot for you
The premise sounds similar to Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling (good book, go read it). Too bad this is only on PS3. Hoping that a PC port will be made available soon.
i'M GOING ALONG , BUT STILL EXPERIENCING FUNKY CONTROL PROBLEMS , I KEEP STARTING OVER BECAUSE if THERE IS A CHANCE OF PERFECTING THIS GAME I'M GOING TO FIND IT !
Honesty have to say I've enjoyed this so far. Really emotional story reminds me of Heavy Rain, with a bit more action and personal choices IMO.
For all those asking, no it didn't come out last month along with the 360. Unfortunately we had to wait a month on the PSN. Probably the usual Microsoft buying their way into stuff. -.- Anyways. The game's great. Amazing atmosphere. I scared the hell out of myself on accident, firing my shotgun in a quiet room. The constant stamina drain effecting everything you do keeps you on your toes and constantly looking for the best way out. The story is also rather touching, and you do find yourself feeling for the characters. I'm about 75% into the game and have around 7 hours put into it, I'm not looking forward to finishing it, I want more.
Whats with the repost? Or rather, why does the console always gets a ps3 and xbox review where gamespot doesn't do a pc review when it also appears on the pc. But realyl why is there a PS3 review i thought it came out the same time as the xbox?
Yeah well at least it's better than paying $60 for an emotionally empty shell of a game that lasts slightly longer.
these downloadable games with high production values are weird, because they play as an adventure game with some novel game mechanics, but they are over as soon as we get used to them. I think a good adventure game should have at least 10 hours of gameplay.