I Am Alive Impressions – Surviving the Survival

Editor’s Note: Another special treat for you today. In his yearly effort to contribute and via my constant nagging, my cousin has returned and offers up his thoughts on Ubisoft’s downloadable title, I Am Alive.  Mainly since I’m swamped and probably won’t get around to it….or I’m just lazy. With that said, enjoy!

I love survival shows. Desert, jungle, forest, urban…I love them all. I like watching documentaries that show what it would be like to have to survive this world if there were a major disaster or just an infrastructure collapse. So, when I first heard of I Am Alive, I became intrigued. Not just because it’s a survival based game but it’s also from one of my favorite companies, Ubisoft! I had watched countless videos about the game and chatted about at length with my cousin. I am aware of a review by a particular person at IGN who shall remain nameless. For those that do not know, basically it said the game was trash and it was given one of the lowest ratings I have ever seen for a game. I’m not sure if this person was having a bad day or just really hated the game.

Full impressions after the break…

Likes: Living after “the event” as the game calls it, does prove to be quite challenging. You are on your own, forced to survive at any cost. While your supplies always remain very low, you can scrounge so to speak but only if the game allows you to. You have your trusty pistol that never seems to have a bullet unless you encounter a group of people. The game does a good job with this however. You don’t always need a bullet you get your point across. And of course, what’s survival without a machete!

What the game does really well is give you a sense of fear. Anything can happen at any time. You never know when you are going to run into a group of bandits that just want to kill you and take what you have; or, someone in need of a good Samaritan. You really feel for these people who are living on their own in this scary and unpredictable world. You will also find your heart racing when you have to climb. You have a stamina meter that depleted very quickly and you can only rest on a flat surface unless it’s a difficult climb. For the difficult climbs you can use pitons, that basically allow you rest in one spot so that your stamina meter can increase again. With the pitons however, those to only show up when the game allows them. Some climbs would have been much easier with those. If your stamina goes too far down, you’ll be tapping into a reserve. Once you do this, your full stamina bar will only replenish if you eat food or drink water. If anything, it proves that survival sucks and you just never know when a decision might actually kill you rather than save you.

Dislikes: All that being said, I found the game to be very linear. You would expect in a game such as this, to be able to roam freely. Granted this was an arcade download and I wasn’t expecting an Assassins Creed open world but my goodness, let me explore! You cannot climb over cars and most, if not all, alley ways and side streets are blocked. I get that the game wants you to head certain directions but a little more freedom would be nice.

The fight scenes or actions sequences were fun at first but they are very repetitive. If dealing with multiple attackers you need to get one close enough too you so that you can cut his throat. Once you do that you inherit a bullet that you can use to shoot one of the other attackers. If you kill enough of them you can go one on one and fight with your machete; however, there are no initial kill strikes. Every time I attacked, I was always blocked and would have to hammer the buttons to “win”. If you try to attack a bad guy and he has a teammate nearby, his teammate will hack you to pieces. There is no countering and no attacking multiple guys at the same time. Again, I’m not expecting Assassins Creed here but I was under the assumption that Ubisoft was going for a realistic approach. No realism there.

Lastly and this one was a biggie for me, no looting of bodies!  If this is a survival situation of course after killing an attacker I am going to loot, they’ll have something I want! I also found it amusing that every bad guy has 1 bullet, seriously?! You would think that I could get ahold of a gang’s secret stash or food and ammo, something!

Summary: I will say that I did enjoy playing the game. It did get mighty boring with the fight scenes and lack of looting and scavenging but I did not find the game to be as lacking as the IGN review I mentioned at the start. What Ubisoft did well was to immerse you into the story and get your heart racing with the climbing and interactions with those who survived. For the other areas that I mentioned, I would have preferred Ubi to spend a little more time on it and release it as a full game if it meant being able to do more. When it comes right down to it, the question is whether or not it’s worth the points. I say yes! While the game does lack in a few areas, it’s a solid gaming experience.

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