Darkworks, the game development studio responsible for Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare and Cold Fear, started work on a title called I Am Alive back in 2008. When the studio was bound for closure, due to the hype and potential the game already had, it was passed/sold/bartered to Ubisoft Shanghai for completion. It was released on March 7th, 2012 for Xbox Live Arcade and PSN after four years of development, making it one of the longest in-development games to be released on XBLA or PSN. However, with games like Mass Effect 3 dropping a day prior, it was easily overlooked. But the question remains: Is this game worth the 1200 ms points ($14.99), or should it be ignored and allowed to fade away with Darkworks?
The game takes place in a cliche post-apocalyptic world. In a destroyed city, you take on the role of a man searching for his wife and daughter. The game begins one year after the destruction of the world, and you’re off and running with very little supplies. I Am Alive sets the mood very nicely: a lonely man just trying to find his family in a world gone to hell, its overtones of loneliness and fear of the unknown are felt throughout the story. If that’s not bad enough, you come across people who are basically searching for scraps to survive and wouldn’t you know it, they want whatever you have. So not only are you trying to find traces of what happened to your family, but people actually want to kill you and take your loot. Good times.
The game starts off with a nice tutorial to get you used to the mechanics. It mixes third- and first-person perspectives with platformer elements, which makes the game feel unique. The game gives you a nice stamina bar that gives the feeling of great urgency when climbing, and the absence of much in the way of color gives the game a dark feel. Encountering people can be a bit challenging due to lack of supplies, so running away might be safer than dealing with them head-on – unless they have something you want. Also, as well as dealing with enemy encounters, you come across people in need of aid, so now you have to choose whether to help people or hoard your supplies. And yes, this makes it easier or harder on you for achieving the best score in the game.
This game is single-player for good reason – you’re only one man. The game offers two different gameplay modes: Normal gives you more supplies but you sacrifice some achievements and end-game bonuses; while Survivor gives you more achievements and end-game bonuses but at the cost of supplies. Oh, the dilemma! The game is episodic and gives you a lot of episodes – 21, to be exact. Although the length of each episode appears to be short. Overall, you’re looking at a 5-6 hour experience in one play-through, with fairly decent replay value if you want to play both modes.
This game posesses the old-school feel of a classic game like Shadow Of The Colossus, making you appreciate the quality that was poured into it. The one thing about this game that really gets to you is how different and realistic it is compared to other post-apocalyptic games out there, which really makes this a fun experience. This game isn’t afraid of taking a popular genre and giving it some much needed love and soul. However, there is one problem that will completely frustrate you, and that is when you die in the game, the game can freeze, requiring you to do a hard restart. This is apparently a common issue for the first episode but it happens throughout the game, which is the only downside in an otherwise well-crafted game.
This game is well worth the 1200 ms points. Its not afraid to be different and offer a more survivalist spin on the post-apocalyptic genre, and is also a definite buy for gamers who appreciate the old-school survival genre. So if you’re looking for this to be more like Fallout, its definitely not the title for you. But it’s worth trying the demo and seeing if it piques your interest, because I Am Alive is one of the better premium XBLA and PSN titles out there and is worth the money spent.
Overall Verdict- Trial before Buy.
This review is based off a retail copy of the XBLA version of I am Alive by Ubisoft