Title: I Am Alive
Format: 360 Arcade (Releasing for PSN in Spring)
Release Date: March 7, 2012
Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai/Darkworks
Price: 1200 MSP or $14.99
ESRB Rating: M
I'll begin this review with a warning: If you are easily frustrated, do not play this game. Although the premise is unique and the presentation is pretty good, it is very hard. But being hard does not mean I Am Alive is a bad game, so don't be discouraged.
I Am Alive takes place 1 year after "The Event." The event in question was a cataclysmic earthquake that decimated most of the known world (This is not explained very well in the game). The story is presented partly through the main character's perspective and partly through a camcorder he used to record his journey. Bits and pieces of the story are also explained by various AI in the game. These AI are "victims" that you have to help. If you do not help them, you don't hear those parts of the story. Although not incredibly important, it does help to have a better background on the game. The voice acting is believable, and emotion does play a big part in the game. You'll find yourself second-guessing everything, especially when it comes to killing someone. Your actions hang heavy on the ending. Some parts of the game are a bit unbelievable, however. Pointing guns at enemies became laughable. When you put down your gun, they attack. Put it back up, they back off. Did they forget at some point during that 2 seconds you holstered it? You'll also have to find items for victims. One victim requested two food cans, and even though I had rat meat, fruit cocktail, and soda, she would not take any of them. It's a wasteland, beggars can't be choosers.
70% climbing, 30% fetch quests. That's the basic gameplay. Climbing is stressful and nerve racking. The core mechanics are very similar to Assassin's Creed except you have a limited stamina bar that depletes as you climb. If you don't find solid ground, you run out of stamina and fall. You're given one last boost of energy when your bar runs out, but that's it. You're also given "retry" options, which are just like lives. You can find them scattered throughout the wasteland, but once you die and run out of retries, you start from the last episode. Checkpoints are pretty frequent, but not frequent enough that you can lose a core amount of progress. You also have a limited inventory that allows you to boost your health, stamina, and keep collectibles for victims. Finally, enemies are frequent, unknown, and hard to prepare for. You must decide whether to walk by them, simply point your gun at them and make them surrender or back off, or engage in a fight that could result in their death, your death, or a massive chunk of your health. Every move you make in this game must be calculated, and that in and of itself is stressful.
Other reviews seem to have a negative outlook on the game; I personally liked it. Although I was frustrated more than a few times and found my palms sweating during some intense climbing situations, I enjoyed it. It also took me about 7 hours, and for 14.99, that's well worth my money. My only problems were issues with fluidity in terms of travel and some very hard to find items and locations, and some tight controls and climbing problems.