I Am Alive: The Good and the Bad
During the most recent Ubisoft Sale on Steam I got around to buying I Am Alive. Before it came out I was intrigued by one of its Trailers, which was fancy and it gave me the idea that we would be playing a highly demanding Survival Game. The Trailer started off by showing your average Office Worker walking down the street, drinking what I assume was a Starbucks Coffee. Suddenly the world around him crumbles in an instant. Buildings topple over and the streets are engulfed in an ash cloud. Fast Forward some time into the future and we see the same Office Worker, now chased by his co-workers, cornered in some spacious hall. They demand his water and he throws them what might had been a water bottle, only for the glass to crack under the assailants and they plummet to their deaths (as it turns out, I remembered the Trailer in reverse order). That trailer made me think, “This game will be awesome.”. After the game’s release I heard the opinions and read the reviews, it wasn’t that good. Since I could buy the game for petty money due to the Sale I went ahead and decided to see what this specific Survival Game had to offer for itself. I was both pleasantly surprised and very much disgruntled.
I Am Alive: The Tales of a Disgruntled Paragon
Just like in the trailer the world has gone bonkers. “The Event” occurred and the world we once knew ceased to exist almost entirely due to earthquakes, floods and Dust Storms. You play the Protagonist, who surprisingly enough never gives his name, even though he can speak. One would think that a person who meets different survivors in his journey would eventually offer any name. In any case, you come to Haventon in search of your Wife and Daughter. Problem is you got separated from her, and it has been almost a year since you returned home. You arrive with nothing but a few essential items and your old home address. You of course discover that your Wife and Daughter are gone, and the whole city is filled with less than friendly people. Fortunately a Plot Hook happens and you find a girl who looked much like your daughter and you end up chasing her. Nobody can possible judge a man negatively for running through devastated streets, chasing a small girl screaming for him to stop. Through a chain of events you hook up with Henry, who is a friend of the girl’s mother (who is not your daughter, as it soon turns out) and you do your best to help these poor survivors get back on their feet.
I found the Story and Plot plausible, but certain points in the Plot stab me in the eyes. Very close to the end you are given an objective that makes no sense with what was mentioned previously (it’s spoilerish), and the fate of one character is never answered. It sort of suggests a Sequel but the ending is only semi-satisfying, if not confusing. It gets the picture across, but I was not impressed.
There were a few things that I liked about this game. The intimidation system was very intriguing. The way it worked is that you could force an enemy into submission, by pointing a gun or shotgun at them. What I liked about it is that the longer you stalled and did not do something about your attackers the sooner they would regain their confidence and try to charge you. What I found as a good design choice was that if your pistol or shotgun went “click” after killing a few opponents your enemies would know you do not have anymore bullets, so the ruse was up. You had to plan out your attacks, if you faced a bigger group, conserve your ammo and aim your shots. Of course, since this was a Console Port the aiming was pretty much done for me, unless I faced an armored dude, then I had to Manually Aim for the head. At first the fights made sense, since you would stumble on groups of bandits, loitering in and around buildings, but later on things got a bit ridiculous. For example, I would be attacked by one group from the front, only for a second group to come from behind, opening a previously locked door (your character cannot open any ordinary doors). I could not adjust my mouse in a way to react to the enemies behind me quickly enough, so during some fighting segments I was forced to re-try these fights a couple of times. What I did like was that ammo was scarce. Pistols are used by bandits but the shotgun was given to me when I handed away a substantial amount of supplies to a survivor, and I never found any ammo for it later on. It was challenging, and I really liked it… but at the same time the bandits did not have ammo limits. You could get a handful of bullets, or perhaps no bullets at all, but if you replayed the fight the enemy would have way more bullets than what you would find. I am not a fan of such an “invisible advantage” for NPCs but what can you do?