The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
After switching studios and surviving development hellfires that have
been burning since 2008, I Am Alive has lived up to its name. The
game’s scale has been reduced from a retail release to a downloadable
title, but that hasn’t held it back from becoming one of the most
memorable survival games I’ve ever played. Days have passed since I
completed it, but I’m still ruminating over every bullet spent, life
saved, and decision made.
The story of I Am Alive follows an
apocalyptic event that has left humanity in shambles. The unnamed
protagonist is trying to return home, driven by the desire to reunite
with his family. He chronicles his arduous quest in a camcorder, which
players watch periodically to view the story from a different angle.
Predictably, the reunion isn’t as easy as walking up to his front door.
The tale succeeds in its simplicity, and the characters introduced
throughout are nuanced and believable.
The standout feature in I
Am Alive is interacting with bands of deranged survivors. I love the
demanding crowd management of Batman: Arkham City, and I Am Alive
delivers a similar experience in a more dire, realistic way. I became
obsessed with deducing the best possible way to take down a group of
armed bad guys as an underpowered everyman. Pulling off a surprise
machete kill, bluffing with an empty gun, and kicking guys off roofs are
all intense experiences. Checkpoint reloads are limited, making these
suspenseful altercations even more rewarding when pulled off
You earn extra retries by helping other survivors.
This usually involves mending the injured or performing good samaritan
acts such as bringing a dust-choked elderly man his asthma inhaler.
While the game isn’t a complete cake walk, I never found myself hard up
for retries. The true rewards are the bits of story-expanding dialogue
offered by thankful survivors that shed light on the ambiguous “Event”
that left the world a dusty husk. What makes I Am Alive’s setting so
convincing is how much is still left to interpretation.
vying for your life against degenerates or helping your fellow man, much
of your time is spent climbing derelict buildings and exploring the
city. The protagonist is a better climber than fighter, but getting
around Haventon isn’t the effortless parkour talent show seen in other
games. Scrambling along drain pipes, window ledges, and rebar feels a
little loose, making it easy to accidentally miss your intended path.
Complicating matters is a stamina meter that drains while climbing.
Unless you have the necessary items to replenish your energy, you’re
liable to fall to your death. Fortunately my paranoid, item-hoarding
play style saved me from taking too many falls. I’ve rarely felt so
rewarded for compulsively searching for every morsel and saving
everything until the last possible second.
I Am Alive makes
surviving in a broken world a gripping experience, but it has its flaws.
Clipping through the ceiling or enemies getting stuck to the geometry
aren’t game breaking, but they kill the mood. One frustrating glitch
involved trekking across town to deliver food to a starving survivor,
only to find the game wouldn’t let me help her despite having the fruit
cocktail she so specifically requested. It’s also confounding that the
player character scribbles down every detail of the city on his map, but
never makes note of the locations of survivors. Finding your way is
even more of a nuisance when enduring the thick haze created by dust
storms. I understand the intended disorienting effect, but I would like
to see the game I’m playing.
Good survival games have been hard to
come by this console generation, but I Am Alive proves there is still
new ground to break. The gray, oppressive atmosphere, constant struggle
to find supplies, and combating wanton scavengers transports players to a
world only experienced in harrowing novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
I Am Alive’s desperate scenarios and inventive gameplay should not be
missed by masochistic gamers interested in entering a world of
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.