If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to play Assassin’s Creed set in a post-apocalyptic world, I Am Alive is the answer.  As a downloadable game that spent years in development, I wanted to give this game the benefit of the doubt and not make any assumptions as to why exactly it took so long (hello, Duke Nukem).  Or, maybe it’s just going to be THAT GOOD.  But I didn’t want to hype myself and have unobtainable expectations either.  Long story short, I went into my brain and erased all knowledge of ever hearing about this game and approached it with a fresh, sexy face.

I Am Alive sets itself up nicely and has an adequately creepy atmosphere.  It’s almost like Fallout 3 but without any of the ghouls, mutants, or giant man-eating ladybugs.  The only bad guys here are gangs of douchebags, heights, and muscle failure.  Oh, and a lack of food and water.  And pretty much no weapons.  And the regret that I didn’t spend more time at the gym.  And the strange drive to help some little girl I just met, which is a real drag.

So... how much is the rent?

I start off this game as I would pretty much any “survival” kind of game: scavenging for supplies and climbing shit, which is regulated by this whole stamina system.  That didn’t last very long as I ended up running into the aforementioned gang of douchebags, and it was a doozie.  There’s a dude with a gun, but I also have a gun.  I don’t know if he has any bullets, but I do know that I have just one bullet.  So, obviously, I’m not going to be able to shoot all of these guys.  Maybe if I shoot one the rest will scatter?  Or maybe they’ll assume that I don’t have any bullets and they’ll just rush me.  Hmmm…

Why, hello, Mr. D-bag. We both have guns... but which of us actually has bullets?

I might as well make it be known that I do, in fact, have at least one bullet, so I shoot the guy with the gun.  Then they freak out, so I freak out too.  I run around, not knowing if I should run towards them and attack them somehow or run away.  Then they somehow fall to their deaths, and I’m left wondering how they managed to survive this long.  I casually stroll over to the guy with the gun to discover… awww yeah, one bullet.  I’ll give you one guess what happens with the next group of douchebags I run into (Hint: re-read this paragraph).

This whole process repeats itself for about six hours, some dilapidated building-climbing thrown in between there for good measure.  I start looking forward to gang encounters less and less and pretty much see them as a mere nuisance getting in the way of my 134th set of pull-ups.  I can see my lats getting huge and busting through my shirt, and now I’m dying for some protein powder.  Then I discover that protein powder doesn’t exist in this world, and my lats aren’t going to keep growing without amino acids, so I get super depressed and hurl myself off a building.  I Am So Not Alive.

It is a LONG way down.

There’s really not a whole lot here to justify the 1200 space bucks (that’s 15 normal-people dollars) it costs to download.  It feels a whole lot more like a demo or concept piece for something much bigger.  There are some cool ideas, but as a game, the whole thing feels really redundant.  For a game so short, that’s simply terrible.  The graphics are decent but the controls are occasionally retarded when climbing.  To be fair, I also thought that about the original Assassin’s Creed, so take that for what you will.

The atmosphere is pretty immersive if you allow it to be, so it’s kind of a bummer that so much of the gameplay gets in the way of that.  There are some intense decision-making situations that made me want to see the game through to its end, but the combat generally feels unnecessary.  I Am Alive would be a much better game if the stupid gangs didn’t exist.  Then it would be more along the lines of Shadow of the Colossus, and I think everyone would agree that would be pretty awesome.  Make it happen, Ubisoft.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Atmosphere is atmospherey
+ Mature maturity
+ Climbing is good exercise
+ Better than Thor
– Gang encounters aren’t fun once you realize they are all the same
– No protein powder!
– Control issues
– Not enough meat for the price

 

7 and 7.5 represent a game that overall manages to be worth a playthrough, just not worth the full price at launch. These scores are for games that are relatively good or even really good, but generally worth waiting for a sale or picking up as a rental when possible.

I Am Alive was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai and published by Ubisoft.  It was released March 7, 2012 on the Xbox Live Arcade.  A copy of the game was downloaded via a code found at the top of a ruined building which I got to through sheer will, determination, and careful attention to my stamina meter.