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I Am Alive – Xbox 360 (Live Arcade)

I Am Alive – Xbox 360 (Live Arcade)

alive coverPlatform:  Xbox 360 (Live Arcade)

Release Date: May 7, 2012

Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai

Publisher: Ubisoft

Genre:  Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating: 8/10

Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer

 

Post apocalyptic games seem to be in a high demand right now.  The idea of losing all of society’s conventions seems to attract people to the idea of a simpler life.  Once you step into I Am Alive you’ll probably change your mind about the world coming to an end.  The game sets itself up very quickly.  You are a man (who never gets a name) trying to find his wife and daughter in this ravaged, bleak world.  You start the game out with few resources only having a climbing axe and some water.  As you move along the game’s story you get more weapons such as a handgun and a bow and arrow amongst others.

Damn! It didn't look this high from down there!

Damn! It didn’t look this high from down there!

I Am Alive presents a really unique heath/stamina system that is refreshing in the survival game genre.  Your health never regenerates on its own, instead you have to find items spread amongst the game world to get your health back and your stamina works in a similar fashion.  You have a limited amount and actions you take such as running or climbing which will deplete it.  Once you stop performing said action your stamina will replenish.  However, if you push yourself too far, then your stamina gauge will start lower permanently, making your character have “less stamina” from that point forward unless you find some items to replenish it.  It’s a very tense system, particularly in the game’s climbing sections.  If you don’t plan your path carefully you’ll run out of stamina and plunge to your death.   Planning out that path is easier said than done as the climbing sequences work as mini puzzles, forcing you to think quickly on your feet (or hands since you’re climbing?).

The game’s combat isn’t quite as tense or rewarding as the climbing sections are.  At first glance the combat seems just as great and innovative as the rest of the game, but you’ll quickly discover how repetitive and broken it is.  I Am Alive grants you a couple of options when faced against grizzly survivors looking to splice your spleen open.  If you have a gun, regardless of it being loaded or empty, you can point it at survivors and threaten to shoot them.  These “bad guys” will start to back up and surrender to your mercy, but it’s only temporary.  They won’t ever just give up and let you walk away.  If you try to leave and lower your gun they’ll come after you, so you really only have one choice, to kill them.  There is an interesting idea where you can “surrender,” throwing your hands in the air and pleading with the oncoming hunters.  Once they get close you can mash the melee button for a surprise kill.  Once you do, expect the remaining foes to charge at you at which point you’ll pull out your gun and threaten them….again.

Wow, Bro!  I'm just here for the for the ambiance.

Wow, Bro! I’m just here for the for the shrimp buffet.

It’s not a bad system, it’s just one that gets very easy to master and doesn’t provide much challenge.  The checkpoint system is a blessing and a hindrance.  The game’s checkpoint system is very generous even though you have a limited amount of retries.  You can get more retries by finding them lying around the environment (presented as camcorders), or by saving survivors (more on that later).  You’ll love how often the checkpoints come up in the climbing portions of the game since some of them are quite lengthy and can be a challenge at first; failing is inevitable.  If you had to redo the entire section the frustration would build quickly.  The rest of the game is where it feels like it’s holding itself back.  Dying in combat sequences don’t really set you back at all, which might sound nice to some, but in reality it prevents the game from making you feel like your life is valuable.   You’re trying to survive in a world of murderers, looters, and worse, but the checkpoint system encourages you to play like Rambo and rush in headfirst.

And you complain about highway traffic...at least YOU have a highway.

And you complain about highway traffic…at least YOU have a highway.

The game’s atmosphere is absolutely stunning.  It’s dark, murky, and ominous tone fit the game perfectly.  As you trek along your journey you’ll find random survivors that need help instead of a hunter looking for your head on a platter.  These helpless people are going to ask for your resources; perhaps a first aid kit for their son, a can of fruit cocktail to cure their hunger, or an inhaler to help their dried out lungs.  All these items YOU could use yourself and items are so scarce you’re going to cringe at the idea of giving them up.  This is where I Am Alive truly shines.  You’re going to want to save these people.  Sure, the game will reward you by giving you a retry should you need it, but it’s the character’s back-story that makes you want to help them.  In some cases, should you choose not to help them, the repercussions may not be severe, but they quickly make you question your motives.  All of your actions have a consequence and I Am Alive never lets you forget that.

Playing on railroad tracks.  Yup, great idea!

Playing on railroad tracks. Yup, great idea!

Your limited resources encourage you to walk off the beaten path.  Exploring through the murky gas fog (that also depletes your health) can be dangerous, but it’s extremely rewarding when you find that bullet you were looking for, or that bottle of water your throat was quenching.  The eerie soundtrack and spot on sound effects give the game a chilling edge.  Turning a corner could be disastrous or your saving grace, but you won’t know until you do it.  I Am Alive succeeds at making you question every one of your moves.

The game’s story is pretty intriguing but does have some halts along the way.  As you look for your wife and daughter you’ll cross paths with a young girl named Mei.  It’s hard enough for the protagonist to survive in this world much less a young girl.  You’ll quickly learn that Mei lives with her mom and a man named Henry.  Helping Mei never feels like a chore because you genuinely care for her well being.  As the game goes on you’ll get more fetch quests that hinder the story progression, but it’s easy to look past this.  Things build up nicely, but unfortunately lead to an atrocious ending.  I Am Alive has one of the worst endings I’ve seen in a video game for quite some time.  I’m not going to say more than that and risk spoiling it, but just know that you won’t be satisfied by the time the credits roll.

Odds are this women needs help...my help.

Odds are this women needs help…my help.

I Am Alive is a story about a man’s journey to survive in a post-apocalyptic world and all the dangers that surround it.  The reason for the world’s end may never come to fruition and the story will leave you wishing you’d been on the other end of your gun.  However, the game’s terrific atmosphere and tense gameplay make it one journey you’re going to want to take.  Trying to survive in this world is going to be hard, but it’s definitely a battle worth fighting for.

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins


Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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