Upon completing I Am Alive, you can see why initial reviews for the game were so polarizing. Yes, the graphics and character designs are not that great. Fine, the combat is disappointing and tough to avoid. At the same time though, the story has its moments and the exploring and climbing sections are gripping and enjoyable. This game might not be for everyone but it certainly has points in it that are worth experiencing.
Whereas the first half of the game felt fairly lengthy, the second part moves at a much more brisk pace. There are three objectives in play, each of which are extremely important to the story. It also helps that while we had to endure a lot of backtracking and detours early in the game, for the second half, being familiar with the city’s layout makes getting around whole lot easier.
The biggest gripe with the second half of the game is how we reach the conclusion. Without going into specifics, the ending we get appears to not be the initial one the developers had planned out. You can see that there was more envisioned for the final act of the game, perhaps an additional hour or two worth of content. But for whatever reason, what we are left with some questions still left unanswered and even a few new ones.
Among the gripes people have with I Am Alive is the vague explanation to a lot of things. We do get small nuggets of information from people we encounter, but not knowing the actual cause of the game’s “Event” that leads to the city and country’s current state doesn’t hurt or better the story in any way. We are aware that something happened and we’re hoping to reunite with our family. This added layer of mystery actually helps push the game forward because by moving forward, perhaps we get the answers to those questions both we and the protagonist have.
It would have been really nice to know just how different the original concept of I Am Alive back in 2008 was in comparison to its current, final product. On top of what concepts were tossed aside to make this game fit as a download-only game, what else was planned to prolong the experience? Changing from retail into digital must have resulted in a lot of things being left out; knowing or at least hearing what some of those changes were would be really interesting to hear about.
My play-through took close to six hours and I was not able to rescue or even find all the victims supposedly located throughout the game. I believe that every person I did encounter, I was able to help them by offering something I managed to find. It appears that in order to locate all the stranded people scatted in the city you really have to seek them out.
In the previous article, I mentioned how I was interested to see if the people I rescued would play a part in the conclusion. Instead, I encountered an interesting, although also depressing moment when I managed to go back to a particular area. *minor spoiler but not related to the plot* Instead of the person being alive and once again thanking me for helping them or seeing that they had moved on, I found that they had hung themselves. It really got to me because that even with someone offering help, there are still others too weak to fight on.
Ultimately, someone’s enjoyment of I Am Alive will be determined by a number of different factors. If you’re in the mood for something that is eye-catching and filled with action, you won’t find either here. Additionally, once you finish the game once, there is almost no reason to go back unless you’re hoping to earn some achievements or trophies.
On the other hand, there isn’t a game quite like I Am Alive on the market. Yes, it is a game with faults but if you’re the kind of person who can look past a game’s looks and want something that offers a challenge, then this will fit the bill nicely. We might not see many titles in the same vein but hopefully Ubisoft or a different developer can see the potential here and builds upon it to create something even more remarkable.