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Review

Alone With You Review

  • First Released Aug 23, 2016
    released
  • Reviewed Aug 26, 2016
  • PS4
  • VITA
Chris Damien on Google+

Intimate Space

Your enjoyment of Alone With You depends largely on how much you value narration. As a homage to classic 80s-style Sierra adventure games, this is first and foremost a piece of interactive storytelling. It bears thematic similarities to a lot of other science fiction stories, but the personal nature of the story gives Alone With You a somber yet relatable presence .

The basic premise of Alone With You is this: the lone survivor of a disastrous terraforming operation is trying to repair an escape pod before the planet in question explodes. This survivor, who wears their space suit through the whole game, is never really identified. You give them a name at the start, but never see any of their defining characteristics. This enables you to easily project your own identity preferences on the character. It’s a clever move in a game largely about conversation and developing deep relationships with others.

Alone With You is billed as a “sci-fi romance adventure,” which sums it up nicely. At the start, your only companion is an AI that's desperate to find a means of escape before it’s too late. A rift has formed within the structure of the planet, possibly caused (or at least exacerbated by) the mining and terraforming operations. Acid rain and earthquakes pummel the landscape amidst huge storms, causing immense damage to the various facilities on the surface.

Since time is short and you’re just one human with indeterminate skillsets, the AI does something rather radical to get the expertise necessary to repair the one remaining space ship: it creates four holographic AI representations of technicians from the former colony. These four represent the skills needed to repair the fuel, engines, food, and communications systems. More than that, however, they also provide your only link--however artificial--with humanity.

These four technicians might be simulations, but they’re seemingly conscious and human in their behavior. Since they were generated based on monitoring records, their memories only extend to the moment right before the rift occurred, stifling all outside communications. With believable emotions, your holographic comrades suffer from self-doubt regarding the nature of their being.

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Alone With You isn’t a personality simulation or AI experiment, though. It’s a fairly linear interactive novella. The game moves in days, and each day you can visit one location. Each location is associated with one of the four holographic crew members. Conversations are often one-sided, as you listen to characters talk about their work, their lives, and their relationships. At certain times, you’ll be prompted to select one of few responses, which convey positivity, negativity, or ambivalence.

The rest of the game revolves around exploration, item hunts, and puzzles. Each location contains logs, journals, and even stories to discover that add depth to the characters and your dire situation. You’ll have to find specific items necessary to repair the ship, ranging from crystalline fuel and ship parts to viable sources of food. It's a simple task unfortunately made time-consuming due to how difficult it can be to spot key items in environments filled with potential objects of interest.

The characters, including the base’s AI, are all fully realized individuals that lend surprising emotions to the simple interactive experience.

In a particularly old school nod, I found myself having to pay far more attention to all those notes and logs to solve puzzles. None of the puzzles in the game are overly challenging, but there’s no quest log and you never find a handy list of texts. As a result,I frequently had to take notes to remember clues, names, and numbers needed to figure out passwords and door codes.

Of the artificial men and women you interact with, you can bond with whomever you wish, leading to once-a-week private rendezvous with subtle romantic undertones. These dialogue sequences add depth to the characters and overall story, and do a great job of it. The holograms’ main goal is getting you off the planet alive, and while their self-confidence wavers, they never veer from that objective. Alone With You is remarkably well-written, even when it delves into dangerously melodramatic waters. The characters, including the base’s AI, are all fully realized individuals that lend surprising emotions to the simple interactive experience.

Remember: all tubes lead somewhere important.
Remember: all tubes lead somewhere important.

There are a couple other distinct aspects to Alone With You. The retro, heavily pixelated artwork is strangely atmospheric despite the lack of fine detail. There’s a lot of grim imagery and the overall tragic tone feels a bit more bearable without graphic depictions of death and destruction.

This is a game that warrants repeated playthroughs to see both endings and experience other relationship choices. Alone With You bears some heavy thematic overlap with recent games like SOMA, Everyone’s Gone to Rapture, and other story-centric releases that focus on the nature of what makes you human, the importance of relationships and contact, and mortality. It’s different enough to feel new despite its retro roots, delivering impactful scenes that shine thanks to a stellar script that brings its few, but emotionally charged, characters to life.

Jason D'Aprile on Google+
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The Good
Excellent writing and poignant dialogue
Superb use of retro art style
Worth playing through more than once
The Bad
Occasionally hard to discern certain objects on the landscape
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jason D’Aprile can’t resist a companion who loves to read and write, especially when stranded on a dying planet. He completed Alone With You using a complimentary download code provided by Sony.
16 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for chubby170
Chubby170

Has anyone played this? I love the old Sierra games. Just curious how much like them it really is..

Avatar image for mysticknight7
MysticKnight7

I saw this on PSN and had some interest, so I decided to look it up, and came here. I was already kinda sold on it but then I saw "homage to classic 80s-style Sierra adventures" and was automatically sold. Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday is 1 of my favs of all time (by Sierra).

Avatar image for jescobar0531
Jescobar0531

You guys know the password for the Machine terminal in the "Agroponics Dome Administration " room?

Avatar image for chippiez
Chippiez

"Retro art style" is code for "we have no art talent or technical ability therefore our "designer" goes super low-res hoping to create some avante-garde neuvo-retro quaintness sure go elicit 8s from GameSpot".

Avatar image for d-man
D-Man

@chippiez: Awww, what's wrong, did your AAA, graphics-whore title not get the review score you wanted, so you decided to come in here and rain on a game that actually did it right? Don't let the door hit you in the butt.

Avatar image for Mad_max911
Mad_max911

@d-man: We just share our thoughts. But feel free to have fun with your C64.
My AAA games mostly get a good score btw.

Avatar image for red666devil
red666devil

Plz. Enf with this pixelated crap. Didnt buy a 1440p 165hz monitor to play this shit.

And every pixelated game, Gamespot rates as 8/9

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@red666devil: I confess, I do see your point and I often think it must be frustrating after buying a top end system (I wouldn't know, ps4 gamer here). Though I remember thinking Axiom Verge looked like complete toilet until a few friends of mine said it was good, I took the plunge and sure at first the graphics were less than impressive, but after (literally) 30 minutes I was hooked! It's easy to write off titles because they look bad but it could be a shame as your likely missing something that you may really enjoy.

Avatar image for d-man
D-Man

@red666devil: Don't worry, someday you'll amount to something too.

Avatar image for BKO3000
BKO3000

@red666devil: Don't buy it then. No one will care. Enjoy playing the same third-person shooter for the 100th time. At least it looks awesome on your awesome monitor.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0
Itzsfo0

@red666devil: then...dont play it ? quite simple its artwork sometimes, sometimes the pixelated images, sometimes a retro feel is exactly what is intended, to me personally I can't get enough of these type of games (from Axiom Verge and Rogue Legacy to Fez and Sound Shapes, and everything in between) and do you know why they usually get 9/10 or 8/10 - because they sound good, and run well and are usually enjoyable...I won't buy some high end monitor then complain that retro games aren't built to maximize performance from high end piece of equipment, you have more then enough games that are utilizing high end graphics cards, expensive custom built rigs, if I have a PC and a few handhelds + consoles then I play some retro game (for cheap) download on the console I don't expect high fidelity and breath-taking visuals...besides ironically the best games I've played in the last few years have been everything from Super Meat Boy to Chasm to Axiom Verge...ironically these retro inspired indie game's may be just the thing that actually saves the industry (as boogie once put it) too many big developers putting / investing $120 million into large open world games (and as much as we love them) they are hard to develop, expensive, and usually fraught with issues, delays, day 1 broken release's, forced micro-transactions, etc, etc - theres a time for everything and a place...If all games came out looking like Witcher 3 or Forza there would be no variety diff genres, diff looks and art-styles I say the more the merrier, its why we have services like Steam, honestly though from Braid and everything in between Hyper Light Drift I've enjoyed alot of these cheap-looking 8bit retro dusted games as of late...and I didn't even think I would sometimes simplicity is the best...but again to each their own...you can go play Doom or whatever big budget AAA title is out there on the shelves for $59.99 (and don't get me wrong I do too) but...sometimes this is exactly what I need quality in small bundles and simplicity.

Avatar image for Regent192
Regent192

I know graphics aren't everything but wtf lol I know some gameboy games that look better than this game

Avatar image for Itzsfo0
Itzsfo0

@Regent192: yea and thats why you have retro gamers playing those old gameboy games, its for a reason...this game prob runs and sounds better then 90% of the big budget titles that come out...but again to each their own everyone is different.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@Itzsfo0: i think it's pure nostalgia. i don't like those graphics either and there's plenty of awesome indiegames out there that manage to deliver a gameplay-focused experience without this eye-cancer (child of light, transistor, don't starve). everyone that loves it should play it though, why not.

Avatar image for BKO3000
BKO3000

@Regent192: Totes bro

Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

Lol vita. Havent played that in a while. Buying this to make my vita useful and probably replaying persona 4g for anticipation for Persona 5.

Alone With You More Info

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  • First Released Aug 23, 2016
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    8.2
    Average Rating4 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Alone With You
    Developed by:
    Benjamin Rivers
    Published by:
    Benjamin Rivers
    Genre(s):
    Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Drug Reference, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violent References