I am alive is a very obscure gem that came out at a weird time with an even more bizarre development history. Starting development all the way back in 2003 and finally being given a digital-only release in 2012, this survival-Adventure game got almost no press when it first came out.
The premise is simple after an earthquake ravaged through most of the United States including your hometown; Haventon, you a nameless protagonist must fight, climb, and gather resources all in an attempt to stay alive for just one more day so that you can hopefully be reunited with your wife and daughter.
What I like about the game’s story is that your just some ordinary guy who is trying to do what is right. You’re not some overpowered commando with a vast arsenal of weapons at your disposal or a martial arts grandmaster who can take out 20 thugs with ease.
Here you are a guy who has to make tough choices when it comes to saving people.
The game is divided primarily into three parts: combat, platforming, and resource collecting.
While in combat, you can only take on one person at a time. You start the game off armed with only a machete, and getting into a fight with an opponent typically means they and you but heads or in this case, blades as you must rapidly mash the shoulder button to overpower them.
When facing a group of enemies, combat becomes trickier as you must strategize and manage your resources. Early on in the game, you receive a pistol; however, it is out of ammo. When someone tried to attack me, I used it to scare them off and back them into a pit where I kicked them.
This was a great way of teaching me how the combat in the game worked. You can’t just shoot your way through every scenario; you have to pay attention to everything.
If I were in a situation where there where three enemies standing in front of me and I had three bullets, then I could quickly shoot them and move on. However, doing so would exhaust my ammo, so my best bet would be to shoot one of them, then try to threaten the other two, separate them from each other so that I could pick them off one by one with my machete; hopefully, before the other one could get to me.
There are also some scenarios where you can threaten people with your gun to drop their weapons. If an enemy is armed only with a knife and you have a gun, you can aim it at them, and certain enemies who aren’t that brave will no longer be interested in fighting you.
My only complaint with the combat is that every time I ran across a group of thugs, I had to fight them. There was never a time when I could just walk past them and say to them that I wasn’t interested in fighting. It would have been nice if there was an option to walk past a group of thugs and just try to go along your merry way. Or maybe have a scenario where you could bribe certain enemies to let you pass them and not attack you. Still, for a small game like this, I’m glad that there was at least some thought that went into the combat, and you can’t just blaze through shooting everything because of your limited resources.
Speaking of which, resource collecting in this game is crucial to proceeding forward. While the game is not the deepest when it comes to resource management, it is still well developed enough to the point where it makes you think.
There is no crafting system to increase your items’ strength or effectiveness, there is nothing you can do to make more powerful weapons, but as I said earlier, that’s part of the charm.
It wouldn’t make any sense for some random guy to know how to increase the potency of painkillers or to modify a shotgun to shoot incendiary rounds.
You must pay attention to whichever items you use and carefully distribute them as you see fit. Many people in the game need help and deciding when to give what to who can be difficult. You may want to help a person in need; however, that person may be handcuffed to a bench and require you to use one of your few bullets to shoot the cuffs to free them. Or maybe you only have one medkit left to heal yourself with, and a dying person may need it right away.
Though helping people rarely ever gives you anything outside of one time where I gave someone enough food and they gave me a shotgun, it would have been nice if the game had more scenarios where you got something from someone, whether it be information or an item.
Lastly, there is the platforming.
Unlike most platformer games where you are a parkour master, here, your character can’t hold onto a platform for too long without losing stamina. You have a stamina bar that gradually depletes over time, however, to make the game a bit more interesting once your main stamina bar gets drained a second stamina bar will be consumed as well.
The difference is that if you can manage to make it to a standing platform before your first stamina bar is fully diminished, then it will recover quickly, whereas when your second bar goes down, your base stamina will be permanently lowered and you must seek out food items to boost it back up.
As for traversing environments, that can be a bit tricky as there is a hazardous smog that drains your health in certain lower areas of the game’s world. Not unlike the original X-box game, Phantom dust, you must be careful where you walk to avoid coming into contact with the toxins in the dust. or if you must traverse an area with dust, do so quickly
While the games’ visuals won’t wow anybody even for 2012, and the gameplay can be a little rusty, there is a certain charm to it that most games from big publishers these days can’t seem to replicate.
It is a bit rugged and uncomplacent at times, but I Am Alive is undoubtedly a game I would love to see more of.