I Am Alive has been on a very long journey. It was first announced in development four years ago. It has suffered from countless delays and different developers. It's obvious that any game would suffer. What looked like a very interesting survival retail experience has turned out into a passable XBLA one. But that doesn't mean I Am Alive is a disaster.
At heart, I Am Alive is a survival horror game, but it's not the zombie type. The game takes place in Chicargo. You play as a very determined man who survived a catastrophe, (also known as the event). A series of earthquakes shattered the city, leaving everything in ruins. Roads are filled with rubble, people are trying to protect their homes, and the air is filled with dust. It's a decent setup for a survival game, but I Am Alive seems to miss the mark a little.
As I stated above, the man you're playing is very determined. He is looking for his wife and child, who went missing since the event. You must travel the rubbled streets, climb high structure, and face deadly enemies. You will bump into many dangerous situations along the way. You begin the game with nothing more than a knife and a empty handgun, this is a survival game after all. Picking up bullets will require great strategy when facing enemies. For example, you could be faced with three enemies at once. Your best bet is to let one approach you, then attack them by surprise with your knife. This then equips you with one bullet. Choosing when you use it is all up to you.
The most neat idea in combat is when you draw your weapon. This startles your enemies, leaving them to put up their hands. You can then shout at them to back away. You can then move them over to a steep edge, then kick them off. It's a very neat idea, and can be enjoyable, if done right. Having said that, the combat is trial and error. I found myself repeating certain parts over and over again. I know it's a survival game that requires you to think, but repeating too many times becomes tiresome.
Most of your time will be spent climbing, and it's one of the most challenging aspects of the game. As you climb structure you will slowly lose stamina. This leaves you with only a certain amount of time to reach the top, or find a rest point. Leaping whilst climbing loses your stamina much faster, so it requires precise timing, and when it's best to do so. It does a great job in making you feel in danger of falling, and it's what I like most about the game.
The visuals in I Am Alive are nothing to write home about. It doesn't seem eye catching or sharp. The whole environment is filled with white and grey colours, surrounded by a grainy effect. It might not be very interesting to look at, but it does fit in nicely with the post-apocalyptic setting surrounding the game.
Whilst I Am Alive might not feel worth the four year wait, it still deserves some credit. It does have it's fair share of problems, but it's still worth checking out for fans of the survival horror genre.
Review by Gareth Smith