by Quinn Levandoski, reviewed on
People can debate all they please about the benefits and negatives to playing video games, but one thing that’s for sure is that that when the world as we know it invariably crumbles and ceases to exist, gamers will be the most prepared. We’ve pretty much already lived through it all. Zombie apocalypse? Been there, done that. Nuclear fallout? Check. Invasion by a hostile alien species? Yawn. Whatever grand finale the universe has been planning for our tiny blue marble may be, we’ll undoubtedly be ready to face the worst of it. However, despite the plethora of post apocalyptic worlds inhabiting our systems already, Ubisoft Shanghai believes that they can give us something both fresh and fun in their upcoming post-disaster adventure/survival title I Am Alive; and you know what? I think that from what I’ve seen so far I just might believe them.
If the name I Am Alive sounds familiar, it’s probably because this game has been floating around in digital limbo for the better part of three years now. After an initial announcement at E3 2008, the game suffered from multiple delays, “dead” periods of no news, and even a switch in developers. Finally, in early 2010, Ubisoft announced that it would be totally re-working the game shooting for a release date between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011. Yet, Q2 2011 came and went and we heard nay a peep, convincing fans that maybe the game’s title was simply a teasing piece of irony. Then, months later on August 29th 2011, gamers were bestowed upon with a brand new trailer. Additionally, a new and (as of now) final release window was announced, along with news that the game would be forfeiting physical disc form and opting instead to release exclusively digitally on the Playstation 3 and 360.
A picture of health
However, none of the long development story for I Am Alive will matter one bit if the game fails to actually be interesting and enjoyable. Luckily, the game seems to be remarkably complete and polished for a product that has been handed around to multiple developers for at least three years. The game is set a year after some mysterious disaster simply referred to as 'The Event' has left the world in utter and complete shambles. Cities look like they could have been lifted straight out of Inception’s limbo, with huge towering skyscrapers lying like drowsy giants scattered about. Streets are ribbed with huge chasms, and a mysteriously sinister and deadly dust has engulfed certain areas. The whole thing actually feels a lot like a page from Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, with everything covered in grey dustiness and an unnerving simultaneous aura of emptiness and foreboding danger. As the player, you’ll enter this collapsing urban landscape through the perspective of an unnamed man who has traveled across the country back to his hometown metropolis of Haventon in order to try and reunite with his wife and daughter.