I Am Alive: The Good and the Bad

Here is what made me extremely sad though. The world of I Am Alive is semi-sandboxy. As you travel through the map you would encounter many different Survivors who need your help, in some form. This could mean sacrificing a precious bullet to stop a bandit, or hand away your Fuel or Batteries to run Generators. Now, I was really keen to help out the people I met, but back-tracking in this game felt like a chore, because I did not even know if there were enough supplies to help out everybody. For example, I only ever found Fuel Cans for my key objective, while I used the only Battery I found on finding more resources for myself. One of the saddest moments was when I found a Survivor in the sewers who wanted two canned foods. I had only one, and even though I had other types of food it had to be canned. I moved on, since I did not have the time to head back and search for the one can, and much later on in the game fate allowed me to revisit that area, and just before entering the Sewers I found exactly two cans of food! So glee filled I ran to where I found the Survivor previously… only to find she hanged herself… talk about bursting my bubble.

There is no Skill system, and your inventory does not influence your parkour skills, which you use throughout the game. You would think that carrying around a shotgun, bow, pistol, body armor, gas mask and a backpack filled with painkillers, canned foods and water bottles would weight you down a bit. It’s nit picking on my end, but in a Survival game of this type I expected a bit more. There are also not enough survivors who simply try to defend their homes. At the very beginning I remember only two such encounters. In the first instance I stumbled on a ragged survivor, protecting his shopping cart and shack as I passed nearby, waving his gun and me and telling me to move away. Later on I also found an apartment building with a woman (I think it was a woman) trying to scare me away with a machete. After some time I automatically engaged hunter mode, if something would be Auto-Targetted by the game I would kill it, without a second thought. Later on I did have a moment of reflection. Some of the bandits were obvious scumbags, but when I was exploring an office building I overheard a group of bandits (at least I think they were bandits) talking about the old days, and how they should had spent more time outside, when they had the chance (currently that was highly dangerous). I listened to their story and then I killed the first of the trio with a bow, the second with my pistol, and the third with my machete. Only then did it struck me that I do not know whether that was the “right” thing to do. It reminded me a lot of my experiences in WarZ, where meeting another human being meant either kill or be killed. Maybe the reason for this was that many more people wanted to kill you rather then talk to you. Maybe because the machete or gun gave a few people power over the many. There was something to this experience, something that you normally do not feel in Video Games.

I Am Alive

During certain Parkour segments you have an opportunity to see your beautiful surroundings… although you have to be above “Dust Level” to admire them.

What did I Am Alive do well then? First and fore most, it has a fascinating setting, and the parkour element feels well developed. The problem with the Parkour was that during some moments the game would not know what do I mean by “up” when I hanged on an intersection between two pipes. Sometimes the game would interpret my left and right movement in even stranger ways, and react directly opposite to what logic would dictate (I took into account Camera Angles, and sometimes the rules were simply broken). I liked the combat, but it became artificial later on in the game, as more and more Armored dudes, and pistol bandits were thrown my way. The Final “Boss” fight is surprising, but I finished it with an arrow to the knee. What aches me the most is the Story. The characters are, sadly, extremely flat. They have no personalities, no expressions, and some of the dialogues are outright awkward. The game is extremely short, but that may be because I did not look into every single corner of the game map to help out every survivor. Logic seems to disappear later on in the game, and among some of the strangest encounters was a Survivor, pinned down in the middle of the Dust Storm (this is the thing that killed people in the open in mere moments) asking me to get a battery, to power a forklift, to get some rubble off of him. I was dumbfounded by that, since I would had preferred to try and lift the rubble off him, than waste a few hours trying to find a battery. Relating to the problem of Batteries and Fuel, the survivors you meet would never give you any hints or suggestions as to where you may find the items they need. It was all in your hands whether you decided to find these items and then find the survivor who needed them, somewhere on the map. Each survivor would then give you a helpful hint as to where your wife and daughter might be, but even upon 100% game completion you do not get a different ending.

I Am Alive

I Am Alive is surprisingly brutal at times. You will find corpses everywhere, sometimes impaled to walls with machetes. Even when you fight different opponents you can kick them into fires and Execute them, as they die from their wounds. While the game calls these actions “Executions” I consider them Mercy Killings. How would a lone, wounded bandit survive in such a harsh world?

One of the biggest things that was missing in I Am Alive? A proper stealth mechanic. While the fights in the dust clouds were interesting you had no option to evade bandit groups (at least,  I did not see a visible one). There was also not enough events and options influencing your final score. Completing the main story line gave you 50% completion. Then you would get 10% more for not doing two morally questionable things. Another 10% would be added for completing the game on Survivor Mode, and 50% for helping out all the survivors. If there were more events influencing your score, negatively or positively I would had been interested in discovering them.

Last thing, the graphics. I believe that a part of my clunkiness with my controls was due to the game’s surprisingly high hardware demand. When I played the game on low and I tried turning around I could see the game quickly generating everything in the direction I was turning to. This might be the reason why I could not turn quickly, but it seems more like a failed attempt at taking into account today’s hardware specs of some video gamers. Not everybody has access to top notch gaming equipment!

This game is a solid 6/10. It has its strengths, but I found a lot of problems with it, which turned to frustration at times. Completing the game took me around six hours, so it is a short game. Since I paid only £4.00 I feel that it was a worthwhile trade-off, especially for a Survival Game. The closer you get to the end the more you feel that the game was rushed in some areas, which is unfortunate, because it had a lot of potential. What a lot of games could borrow from it is the Intimidation mechanic. This, I found, was a revolutionary idea, and certain FPS games, such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., could really use this element. I hope that if there ever will be an I Am Alive 2 that the writers behind it will add more substance to the game’s world.

Rating:6/10
Pros:Interesting Story and Plot Ideas
Parkour
Intimidation System
Cons:Controls
Combat (later on in the game)
Demanding Graphics
Short Game
Many, many more.
Game producer's website:Ubisoft Shanghai
Official website:I Am Alive
Game available at:

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

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About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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