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I Am Alive Review

Developer: Ubisoft | Publisher: Ubisoft
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/07/12 | Genre: Survival Horror

As a long-time fan of the Survival Horror genre, I began a quest to find a new title to play through and review. The opportunity to cover I Am Alive presented itself to me and I just couldn't pass it up. For a game that has seen numerous sales on Steam in the past several months, I walked away pleasantly surprised. I Am Alive possessed a storyline that grabbed my attention, presented a challenge, and even made me a bit emotional--something that rarely happens in videogames. And it is even presented completely in greyscale!

When I start a game, I prefer to have a challenge. As this is my goal, I began I Am Alive with the hardest difficulty available to me--Survivor. This is not for the faint of heart as the game will lead you to your death around every corner. By employing a bit of strategy, I was able to stay alive and avoid the highly accurate fire of the enemy characters. In fact, playing on Survivor difficulty seems to make all enemies hit you with 100% accuracy. I understand that this is the "Survivor" difficulty but making all enemies hit you everytime seems a bit of a stretch. Fortunately, I found a bug that helped turned the tide in my favor. If one stood where there was one enemy, with a gun, and a second enemy in-between the me and the the other, I wouldn't get shot but the enemy would kill the other for me. Hey, Survivor mode means to be creative at staying alive, right?

The music of I Am Alive, brought to us by composer Jeff Broadbent. I found his work here to be absolutely beautiful. No matter the what is on screen, the musical score perfectly sets the mood. From encounters with unfriendly bandits, to surprised survivors that don't want near you, and running around exploring--the music is perfect. 

I Am Alive has had a troubled development. From 2003 to 2008, the game was Developed by Darkworks. Ubisoft took over the project and continued development of the title until it was "finished" in 2012. During the course of the development cycle much has changed. Sadly, this includes the lower graphical fidelity of a past generation. The use of greyscale graphics does help minimize the impact of old technology. But even taking into account when the game first began development, it is hard to look past the visual shortcomings of this title.

With an aging engine powering the graphics, I Am Alive tries to innovate with a feature known as "retries." Throughout the game, the player accumulates retries by finding them scattered in the world or by helping other survivors. Retries, when used, will take you back to your last checkpoint and let you try it again if you perish. If you run out of retries, you will have to, instead, return to the last save location. The system, on paper, appears to work well until you see it put into practice. Checkpoints and saves are normally very close together and the entire system feels like it was never fully baked and just rushed out. For a game in development as long as I Am Alive, should anything feel unfinished?

Despite a few shortcomings, I Am Alive is a fun game and I recommend it to fans of the Survival Horror Genre. 

By Davis Wiitala - 03/30/13
ESRB Details: This is an action game in which players assume the role of a man who must find his family in a post-apocalyptic world. From a third-person perspective, players traverse through city ruins and use a machete to kill human enemies in melee-style combat. Battles are accompanied by realistic gunfire, slashing sounds, and cries of pain; characters emit brief splashes of blood when hit. Players have the ability to kill or knock unconscious wounded/vulnerable enemies via finishing moves (e.g., throat slashing, impaling, pistol-whipping); these scenes are highlighted by close-up camera angles and increased player control (e.g., on-screen prompts with button-press sequences). During the course of the game, players encounter women who can be saved from nearby enemies; sexual mistreatment is sometimes implied in the dialogue (e.g., “These guys kept me as their pet, or mascot, or something.”). One sequence depicts the background silhouette of a man fondling and threatening a captured female survivor; the exchange includes phrases such as “Do you hear me? Don't touch me!” and “Don't be like that. You know I can make your life a lot easier if you would just cooperate.” The words “p*ssy,” “f**k,” and “sh*t” can be heard in the dialogue.
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Screenshots for I Am Alive Review

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