Initially, I Am Alive was supposed to be a full Blu-Ray adventure, but then the title disappeared off the radar. When it returned, a few things had changed; most notably, it had switched to the digital world. The game once reminded us of Disaster Report but now appears more action-based, and it will release on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade this winter. You will play as a nameless character who has spent the last year trying to get back home; obviously, we’re not starting our harrowing quest immediately after the apocalypse.
Indeed, it’s a post-apocalyptic setting and civilization is in shambles. In your desperate search to locate your wife and child, you will only be armed with a flashlight and some batteries, a backpack, and a camcorder. You’re not sure if your family is still alive and around every turn lurks uncertainty and danger. And although you won’t be fighting bizarre mutated creatures, you will have to deal with the darker sides of humanity. Many are just trying to survive and are willing to help; others adopt an all-for-one attitude and become problematic.
Your decisions will play a major role. Because all supplies and resources are limited, you have to decide when you can lend a hand, and when you have to think about yourself. So do you help those starving people over there, or are your rations low? If you feed them, how will you eat? Now, your choices won’t really affect the storyline, but particular scenarios could play out differently depending on how you approach them. There are checkpoints but if you die – or if you just want to see what might happen if you took another approach – you can retry a section.
As for the gameplay, there are some action and platforming elements involved. Because your environment is broken and unfriendly, you’ll have to traverse some seriously challenging areas, including busted bridges, piles of shifting rubble, and unexpected obstacles. You’ll have to be very careful, especially because you have to watch your stamina. Everything you do drains a bit of stamina, and that includes jumping a gap or fighting a foe. If you run out of stamina, you start to experience fatigue and at that point, you had better find some vittles fast .
So there’s definitely a semblance of strategy involved. When looking at a scenario, you have to plan out a course of action that won’t leave you depleted halfway through. You also have to keep a reserve, as you might come across unavoidable confrontations with other survivors. For the latter, you should probably try looking for weapons; you might find a pistol and a few bullets or a knife of some kind. Lastly, there’s a seriously cool intimidation feature that could save your life: if you can defeat the toughest guy in a group first, the others will run away.
You can even try threatening people with an unloaded gun…just hope they don’t call your bluff. There’s a lot going on here, and we really think I Am Alive could turn out to be one of the better games of the generation. We love the concept, the ideas, and the gameplay is loaded with possibilities. Provided the control and atmosphere is agreeable, this could be a unique, refreshing production that forces you to think and react.