I am alive is a role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic style world following “the event”. You control the character Adam, who has set out to find his way home to his family in the city of Haventon; a fictional landscape in the USA. When you arrive at his home the real adventure begins. Developed by Ubisoft Entertainment, this game has long been one to watch.
The are three key premises to the playing of this game; one is to keep yourself alive by carefully managing your resources and learning how to best interact with others. If you do not stay alive, you have no hope of finding your family; your second goal. The third key part to the storyline is finding out exactly what “the event” is or was. You know from the beginning by looking at the landscape around you that is destroyed almost all infrastructure in the city, and that the majority of the human population is gone. As you progress through the story, the main storyline events will give you some inclinations as to what may have happened. Alongside this however there are people throughout the game in need of your help, be it a need for medicine, food or something more unusual. These people each know some details of what has been happening, and will help you build a story which brings you to where you are now.
Staying alive in the game is quite a challenge. You have to manage your character’s health and stamina very carefully in order to do this. Stamina will recover automatically, unless you have to perform an extreme effort to complete an objective. An extreme effort must be carried out when the stamina bar is empty, and this will quickly wear down your maximum stamina. This means that when you finish your effort and your stamina recovers, it will only recover to this shorter point. Stamina can be recovered in game by consuming certain items, such as fizzy drinks. Some items will also allow you to increase your stamina maximum back to its original highest point. Alongside stamina you must also keep an eye on your health. your health may be damaged by falling a great height or during conflicts with other characters in the game. Everybody in the world is on their guard to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property, and so on the rare occasions that you do find other people it is wise to quickly judge their intentions and be on your guard. Health can be recovered in much the same way as stamina, however it does not automatically recover itself.
The combat system in the game, if it can truly be called this, is very innovative and is possibly the game’s key selling feature to set it aside from similar competitors. I Am Alive incorporates the elements of fear and intimidation into conflict situations. Another character will not spring up and just attack you, they will see you and speak to you first. This gives you the opportunity to judge their character and decide on what course of action to make, rather than just rushing into a fight. Sometimes you may find yourself overpowered and will have to walk away. Sometimes you can pull out a gun to defend yourself and intimidate the other person. Bullets are a rarity in the game world, but sometimes just holding up a gun will be enough to make others think twice about threatening you. In other cases you may have to perform a surprise melee attack on a person once they have approached you closely enough, if there is no other way to engage them. This system brings a new level of excitement to a conflict in game, and makes it that little bit more real. Unlike the usual opponents which will run at you guns blazing if they see you, these characters act like human beings, trying to judge you as you are trying to judge them. If you are the sort of player who loves to see realism above anything else then you will certainly enjoy this feature. What’s more, it’s also very easy to be killed if you make the wrong choice. The game works on a retry system but these are limited, so your chances are too.
The downside to the character which you take on however, as a bit of an aside from the graphics, is that he is given a business background in the build up. He is one of the most athletic characters you might ever have seen in a game, climbing broken buildings and other structures before his energy is gone. Understandably people can do amazing things in times of great need, but this is quite surprising for a normal individual, and unfortunately takes a way a bit of the games realistic side. The movement looks quite realistic though, but is limited, for example you cannot easily fall off a high place thanks to classic invisible wall technology in game. There is also a tight limitation to where you can move; if you try to climb in just the wrong place you will be unable to for example.
The game graphics have their ups and downs. Where they are good, they are stunningly so. The first thing you notice is that the landscape is both terrible and beautiful. In many games, and this is no exception, destruction can be a beautiful thing to observe. The way that the world has been created here screams at you that something terrible has happened and drives you to find out more, almost as if you are obligated to do so. Then you look next at the characters, who look human, which is always a good starting point. If you take the time to look closely though, you can see that a lot of thought has been put into them, to the point where blinking is incorporated cleverly. The major downside to the graphics is the blur incorporated to mimic the depth of vision of a human being is a little bit extreme. Sometimes it comes into action a little bit quickly too and can be slightly disorientating. It is unfortunate that this has happened as otherwise the landscapes are quite amazing. If there were to be another problem with them, it would simply be the fact that they are very monotone. It is clear this has been done for emphasis of the situation at hand, but in the real world things may have a little bit more colour than what is suggested. Unless maybe this is something to do with “the event”. Who knows.
Sound wise the game is not too bad as a whole but has one truly annoying feature. When you are using your stamina music starts up, becoming more dramatic as you get closer to the end of your maximum usage. Some people may think that this is a useful indicator. However, when there are many situations which drive you to use almost all of your stamina and these are quite frequent, you will find hearing the same music yet again will drive you slightly mad. Other than this the sounds are pretty good. The voices are legible, although if anyone has a problem with this there are subtitles available, the landscape sounds are quite natural, movement sounds quite real and weapons are not bad either. One mistake may not seem like much of an issue in all of this, but it is one of the most annoying sound features you may ever repeatedly listen to in a game.
Overall, despite the number of criticisms that can be made of feature of the game, it is a very good one to play. The story is very clever and is a gripping one. In many similar games you know the background story and get on with your missions just because you are told to. Here you are a man, alone in a post-apocalyptic world, tyring to find his family, and you don’t know what has happened. It doesn’t really get a lot more interesting than that. The game is also very interactive; the decisions that you make in a conflict situation can decide whether you live or die. Where you would normally shoot first and ask questions later, you actually have to think to survive in this world. The game has clearly been formed to allow the player to live in a post-apocalyptic world as what it may really be like; at least to an extent. There are issues which hold the game back a bit but they will not irritate everyone and they really don’t take away from the story all that much. Apart from the fact that you really shouldn’t really be able to be climbing multi-storey structures so easily, this game brings you to a situation of what a real post-apocalyptic world may be like. There are no monsters in the shadows, only humans in the corners, trying to get by, just like you.
Fun, interesting and interactive story. Some issues are present but on the scales they do not really influence the balance all that much.
Amazing to begin with; an incredible world and detailed characters, but some features are less perfect than some players might hope.
Mostly fine, other than the exception of the stamina indicator which gets very repetitive and irritating. This doesn’t take away too much from the experience.
Naturally there are some issues, some of which are more irritating than others, but is brilliantly done for any player who loves story and interactivity. For the price of the game you really could not ask for more.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.