PS3 Review: I Am Alive

Dead on arrival?

I Am Alive has been in development for quite a few years, and when nothing new regarding it was coming forward, many assumed it had been cancelled. Then it’s announced that it’s shifted from retail to a download-only title, which didn’t go down well with those who have followed the game’s progress. But has the gamble paid off?

The story takes place in the fictional New York town of Haventon. The city has been left devastated by something called “The Event” which has caused Earthquakes and left killer dust clouds and storms, while a resident called Adam returns a year after “The Event” to find his family. It sounds like a gripping plot, and it starts out that way with Adam recording his ordeal through a camcorder, but unfortunately the game’s story switches from him searching for his family to a bunch of fetch quests like getting medicine for a sick girl atop a large building and so on. It’s a shame that a strong setting and a nice plot became an afterthought in the end.

Gameplay consists mostly of climbing and combat. Adam can climb structures, but at the cost of stamina and once the meter runs out, he’ll start to lose health until he dies or unless you put an object on the wall to let him rest for a second. It’s really tiresome and annoying to climb, it’s no Assassin’s Creed/Prince of Persia that’s for sure. The controls are also unresponsive at times, which can cause more deaths than you’d want, and if that wasn’t bad enough…you only get a few lives and you can only get more by finding them or helping people. There are moments in the game where you have to slide down ramps and roll to grab onto pipes, which is also poorly thought out and irritating to handle.

On your travels through Haventon, you’ll come across locals that will attack you. Adam is armed with a pistol, but it rarely has ammo. The idea behind combat is using the pistol to scare the locals so you can kill them with your blade when you are close, then gaining ammo to shoot those with guns. The AI is far from clever though and will forget you have a gun if you pull it down for a second and will attempt to attack you only for them to cower in fear when you raise it again. There’s a pattern to killing a number of enemies like waiting for one to approach, slit his throat, grab his ammo and then use it on the guys with guns, then intimidate the ones with melee weapons so you can knock them out. The problem is that you need to be quick with your shots before the enemies get a shot on you, or you are pretty much screwed.

There are areas in the game that are covered in dust and being in there will cause damage, so you are forced to be even quicker as you climb up, which is cumbersome in itself. It doesn’t help that the dust storms make it incredibly hard to see where you are going or what’s in front of you, the grainy visual effect doesn’t look good and the game itself looks very dated with poor character models, bad textures and animations. The voice-acting isn’t too bad and the music matches the atmosphere well, but the script isn’t the best.

The Verdict

I Am Alive started out with good ideas and a decent setting, but dated visuals and poor gameplay ultimately hinder it from being a must-have title into something that should probably be avoided. If you can get past the awkward controls, disappointing combat and annoying climbing mechanics, then you should give it a go for the story, but I personally don’t think it’s worth that.