Guest Author - James Shea
I Am Alive is a post-apocalyptic survival game focusing on a lower-intensity approach to the genre.
While "post-apocalyptic" tends to bring up things like Mad Max and the Fallout series, "I Am Alive" is closer to something like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road": no mutants, no raiders, just desperate scavengers struggling to say alive in the wake of an unknown disaster. The player takes the role of "Adam", a man who has spent over a year trying to return to his home and his family across the broken and desolate terrain of the United States.
The gameplay of I Am Alive focuses primarily on two things. The first thing is climbing; managing stamina and finding handholds is a big part of getting around, and it's easy to put yourself in a dangerous position that's difficult to recover from. The second is how it deals with combat: in most cases you'll be outnumbered and outmatches, so using stealth and threats (i.e. pointing your gun at someone even if it's not loaded) is a big part of evening the playing field. It's one of the few games where people don't simply run headlong into you no matter what; it doesn't exactly have any negotiation mechanics, but fights are based primarily on taking down major threats (enemies with guns, enemies who resist if you try to hold them up) so you can then move on to smaller threats (melee-armed enemies, enemies who are weaker-willed).
The game's aesthetic and concept work well together. The city the game takes place in is dust-choked and shattered, with roads split apart, buildings collapsed, and an eerie grey cloud over everything. The supplies you find will be few and far between - a bottle of water, a can of fruit, a single bullet - and you'll have to appreciate every single one. The game's not the best graphically (in terms of resolution), but it's well-executed stylistically.
Overall "I Am Alive" is pretty neat as an idea. It's not as developed as it ought to be in some areas (there's WAY too many invisible walls, and the combat mechanics are kind of simplistic despite the concept), but it's definitely worth a look for anyone who wants something different in the post-apocalyptic field.
We purchased this game through the Playstation Network with our own funds in order to do this review.