I am Alive – Demo hands on preview

WOW! That about sums up my brief time with the game ” I am Alive”. I have had a distant and vague ye on this title since I first heard about it awhile ago. I knew it was going to be an adventure game in a post apocalyptic setting but beyond that I had no clue what the game would be about.Imagine my surprise when I also recently found out this game was going to be an XBOX live Arcade title for only 1200 points and not a full retail release! Now I was curious.

After playing the DEMO i was feeling emotions of fear, sadness and anticipation; all the emotions someone would get after watching a block buster thriller on the big screen.

 

The game revolves around a man who has survived some cataclysmic events that took place on good old earth. Our planet has been wracked by earthquakes that have stopped short of swallowing entire cities whole.Cities are torn asunder and dirt and dust swirl about the air making everything that is more than a few yards in front of you seem like a washed out painting. Your character survived quite possibly due to the fact that he was on an airplane at the time all of this was happening and although the demo didn’t provide a detailed explanation of the events prior to the opening scene of the demo we can assume that there is a story to be told about the events leading up top the game. It has been a year since that day and you have been slowly making your way back to your home in the city to hopefully find your wife and daughter waiting for you. This is where the story of ” I am Alive”  begins

Right off the bat the game makes you aware that you are not some sort of action hero or larger than life character. The opening cinematic paints a picture of a man who has endured hardships in his travels and the UNREAL graphics engine does a good job of painting that picture with its gritty textures and lack of bold colors.

The games choice of color palette is either a clever way of conveying the mood of the game or the conscious choice to minimize certain aspects of development to cut costs… or both; either way it works and doesn’t detract from the experience I had playing the game.

when you start the demo you will be equipped with only three things.Some food, a water bottle and a gun with no bullets. If ever there was a way to put the word ” survival” back into the Survival Horror genre this would be it( Are you paying attention Capcom?)


although I would not call this game a Survival Horror game based on my time with the demo I would say that it does have strong elements of games in the genre. Limited supplies and tense situations that force you to adopt a flight or flee mentality every time definitely lends itself less to an action adventure game and more to the aforementioned genre. If I had to compare this game to another I would say it felt a lot like  the Unchartered series combined with early resident evil games. You will be facing real humans in your quest to find your family. While Zombies and mutants are typically the norm for games like this the fact that you are facing off against other survivors with their own concept on what it means to survive makes the encounters all that more intense. In one encounter I was shot dead by an old lady wielding a pistol only because I drew my bullet-less gun on her and she felt the need to defend herself. In another situation I initiated a combat because I felt it was the best way to defend myself against a gang of knife wielding thugs . The lines of good versus bad are as grey as the color pallet that paints the world in this game.

Exploration and discovery looks to be the main gameplay elements that make up the bulk of the game with some combat sprinkled in for good measure. The DEMO was very brief and focused on story and narrative while introducing the basic gameplay rules versus what kind of action the game would contain.

The gameplay innovations hit me square in the face within the first few minutes. Rather than allowing your beleaguered character the now standard ” walk/run” options via a button press; I am Alive introduces a new mechanic called ” Stamina” this is introduced via a meter at the top of your screen. Any kind of activity beyond just walking will drain that meter and in the case of situations where you are climbing this means you will fall to your death.

I hope he has enough stamina left to climb up!

The simple act of climbing up a ladder or shimmeing across a ledge all of a sudden took on a seriousness that needed to be evaluated unlike when Nathan Drake or Lara Croft bust out similar moves in their game.

There are ways to push yours stamina with some consequences as well as ways to recover ie. Food and medicine etc. but the sheer fact that Ubi Soft decided to implement a resource management system with your stamina makes this game stand out from others and it doesn’t detract from the fun or exploring or fighting through the game space.

Worth mentioning is the gun you start the game off with. It has no bullets! Thats right this is the first game that just gives you a gun…with nothing  to shoot it with! What is really neat is how they have created a system of intimidation that is part of your survival arsenal. You can literally pull out your empty gun and aim it at someone ( the game shift from 3rd person to first person when you do this) and they will react as though a loaded gun is being pointed at them. The reactions are what you would expect anyone to do and this opens up for more of that ” fight or flight” elements I talked about earlier.


Combat is a mix between up close and personal and ranged . The DEMO didn’t contain enough situation of violence to get a real good sense of how combat handled in a variety of situations but from what I played it seemed polished and tight. Considering I only found one bullet the entire demo and shot it in my second encounter I would say that gunplay wont be as common place as other games.

The DEMO itself is short and serves mainly to introduce you to the game and entice you into purchasing the full version but what I did play couldn’t stop me from thinking what this game would have looked like with bigger production values and the full resources of a retail release budget. While the presentation was very nice for a ARCADE title I don’t understand why this game wasnt developed as a full release? The premise is fresh and well executed. It harkens back to a day when games challenged the player and provided us a path into new stories and experiences. Maybe that’s why they didn’t want to gamble on it, I mean who could blame them when the industry is all about  games that make billions of dollars offering up the same experience over and over again to an audience who shuns new ideas in favor of established formulas while new concepts and brands simply fade away and most of the time they die before anyone experiences them.

If they had decided to market this game as a full retail release it might not have the title it does today. ” I am Alive” is available now for download on XBOX Live marketplace for 1200 ms points.

 

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

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6 thoughts on “I am Alive – Demo hands on preview”

  1. Do you think it is a good thing that the game isn’t survival horror, yet borrows many elements from the genre? Very good preview though, I very much want to check it out.

  2. I was worried that at first it wouldn’t have the fear element that survival horror has but then I realized that the gear isn’t about the enemies you face but rather you surviving the environment ie climbing and maintaining health and surviving various encounters with your stamina management. I may indeed pick up the full game. It was a very emotional demo.

  3. I played the demo myself last night – honestly, I was a little disappointed at first with the lower-than-expected graphics (specifically, textures): but knowing now that it’s an arcade title, I completely withdraw that evaluation. I’d thought it as a full release at the time, and so it wasn’t quite up to par with what I’d have expected from Ubisoft, but I think this is one of the most intriguing (maybe even the most) Arcade games I’ve seen (or heard of).

    I thought a few things were odd, though – the context-sensitive jumping, for one. Why can’t I jump in the middle of the street? Also, you can’t walk off a ledge – the character just walks up to it and looks down. I mean, that’s slightly more realistic than characters that randomly wander off pathways to their death…but it took out some of the suspense, for me, after I found that out. I’m also really, really hoping that the full game will be less linear than the demo was…I’m suspecting so, from the videos, etcetera…anybody buy it yet that can tell? I’m thinking I will buy it – but it’d be nice to know beforehand.

    One thing I was curious about – does anybody know if the demo is timed, or cuts off after a certain specified point? Mine ended just as I started chasing a kid in this playground (I swear I’m not as pedophile-y as that sentence makes me sound) and it seemed like a slightly awkward place for it to cut off. I was wondering if it was maybe like the Dead Rising demo, which cut off after either fifteen minutes, or going certain places to view certain cutscenes, whichever came first. Did other people also end after starting to chase the kid, or at some other point?

    (Sorry for posting what essentially amounts to a little review of my own – but I figured you’d like to know that your article made me think and reconsider a few things)

  4. I agree about the lack of being able to fall of ledges or girders. I thought to myself as I was walking across a beam ” hey there is no risk of me falling here so why am i controlling the character at this moment” it may as well been a cut-scene. I can see why they removed the jumping controls because they wanted you to experience the game in a methodical pace and build suspense through limited actions. If they allowed jumping whenever you want the game would digress into a glorified platformer and you would be bunny hopping all over the place in trying to get on objects and barriers. Not having it feels grounded
    Don’t worry about the demo ending when it did ; its supposed to….just a real cliffhanger part .
    I have’nt decided if Im gonna but it or not as many sites have’nt done a full review of it. I wanted to do a preview as a break from my normal competitive gaming focused articles. Glad you enjoyed it my friend.

  5. Fair enough – I agree that I tend to jump far, far more than is strictly necessary in most games…and I know I’m not alone in that. That one was a little peculiar to me, but not a problem.
    Thanks for letting me know about the demo’s end, too – although after reading this I went back through and played it again, to try to look at it in a new light (and also see about that ending).

    I did find something new, though, that’s odd – you know that gun-toting lady a bit later on in the demo? Well, I got her to fire on me a couple of times, and hid behind the pickup truck, figuring she’d run out of ammo. She didn’t, and shot me as soon as I emerged. However, when I retried, I decided to just shoot her right off the bat, figuring I’d get several shots out of the deal…but you only get one upon killing her.
    I mean, I like the strained resources – that’s cool…but they don’t seem to apply to NPC’s, which I don’t like as much…

    Still, I’m going to grab a points card tomorrow and buy this game – it’s certainly intriguing enough to be worth the couple of bucks. Thanks for the article, by the way – it helped turned my opinion around, which I’m glad for – and I’m certainly going to check out some more around here.

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