As the fourth and final title to be released as part of the Xbox House Party promotion, I Am Alive follows some quality games and needs to go out with a bang. The Darkworks and Ubisoft Shanghai developed game isn’t your typical third-person adventure game, but will its unique approach to survival and eerie atmosphere be enough to keep you entertained, or will you die from boredom?
I Am Alive follows the story of Adam, who has been separated from his wife and child due to a cataclysmic event that has hit the earth. This event has turned cities into piles of rubble where constant earthquakes and dusty storms have killed off most of the human race, but Adam is sure his family is still alive, so he travels to the town of Haventon in search of them. Unfortunately for Adam this is not going to be an easy journey as he has to traverse the ruined city whilst trying to avoid any trouble that may come his way – and not just from the environmental damage.
Equipped with a flashlight, a pistol and a camcorder to record his journey, Adam has to use what little items he can find to make his way through Haventon. After finding a way across the bridge into the city, it isn’t long before you meet your first survivors, and it’s not a pleasant encounter. Although some people just want to be left alone, others will want to take anything they can and are willing to kill for it.
Although Adam starts off with no ammo in his pistol, his enemies aren’t aware of this, and providing they don’t have a gun aimed at his head they can be tricked into submitting and handing over their own items. The sad fact is these aggressive survivors won’t give up without a fight and this results in Adam being forced to kill them. There are multiple ways to kill people, from a simple shot to the head, a struggle battle with a machete in which you need to spam the RT button to win or, the more satisfying, kicking them off a cliff. These are just a few of the ways Adam can kill enemies and encounters can vary in both the aggressiveness of enemies and numbers.
If Adam loses health in a fight he can use some of the items he has managed to salvage to recover his health and also his stamina. Stamina is used in almost every action you do with Adam, be it running, climbing, forcefully opening gates, fighting enemies or travelling through the thick dusty storms that seep into the city. Although stamina can be recovered quite easily with items, it’s not so easy to do this when you are climbing, so if you reach your limit with your stamina you will be required to fight for your life. This means that you have to tap the RT button repeatedly while trying to make your way to a flat surface or place a piton which will create a resting point.
The longer it takes you to find a safe spot the smaller your maximum stamina will be, and unless you have some items to recover your maximum stamina, you will be restricted on how far you can climb. You really feel a sense of panic when this happens and that you are putting everything into surviving. Having low health and stamina can actually be a very exciting prospect and it makes you rethink your strategies when fighting enemies or climbing large buildings.
Not all people you come across in the city are out to kill you however. Some people will ask or even beg for your assistance and you can find yourself doing all manner of things to save them. Simple tasks will include giving a person a first aid kit to patch up a wound, or hand a dying guy a packet of smokes so he can enjoy his last few days, but others can be a little more dangerous or exciting depending how you look at it. One good example of this is a woman who is sitting on a bench and is asking for your help. Once you get close enough to her, a gang jumps out of hiding ready to take all of your items. It’s up to you how you deal with this situation, but there is no telling what might happen should you try to leg it and leave the poor woman in the hands of the thugs. Helping out victims will reward you with a retry, which can be used if you happen to die. If you play survivor mode rather than normal mode these retires will take you all the way back to the beginning of the chapter rather than to the checkpoints, and it makes the game even harder where you are required to assess situations even more carefully.
One of the finest details in the game is its graphics and the use of sound in the game. The graphics are very hazy and you can hardly see anything in front of you, which can really put you on the edge and stop you from just dashing from point to point. Not only this but you will find yourself getting lost often and having to use your map to try to find your bearings. When night time appears the city gets even harder to navigate, but this sense of fear only intensifies the gameplay. The use of sound has been used very well in I Am Alive, as you will hear rustling coming from all over the desolate streets, which will have you jumping all the time. The most terrifying part is the build up of creepy music as your stamina bar depletes. When you are climbing a tall building and the music starts getting louder as your stamina bar depletes and you know at any minute you could fall if you don’t react fast enough, you will know just what it means to say, ‘I Am Alive’.