Have You Played… I Am Alive?


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I Am Alive is one of the best games I’ve ever had the misfortune to play.

Beyond the opening, which introduces a post-disaster setting in grand fashion, I found almost every scene in I Am Alive disappointing. The premise, as I understood it, was to present a grimmer and more credible world gone wrong than seen in most games and films. This is best summarised by the way guns work – you can run out of ammo but still point a gun at someone and hope that they back down, afraid to die. Isn’t that a brilliant idea?

I Am Alive has a few brilliant ideas but it discards them too quickly in favour of its more numerous bad ideas. Maybe bad is too strong, but they’re certainly boring ideas.

It’s a game that promises to bring a little bit of The Road to your monitor but a couple of hours in has you sliding down a toppled skyscraper on your bum wondering where all the tension and melancholy has gone.


  1. N'Al says:

    That’s harsh, I think.

    The threatening mechanic is ill explained*, but otherwise I thought it was a neat take on Prince of Persia’s ‘parkour platforming’. I even liked the story and its twist at the end.

    *Essentially, an enemy with a gun will always take precedence to you, i.e. there’s no Mexican stand-offs. An enemy with a gun will ALWAYS shoot at you, which means you should always shoot first and you can only threaten enemies with ‘lesser’ weapons.

  2. Troubletcat says:

    I played a fair bit of it (for youtube, even) but couldn’t stick it to the end (not even with the extra motivation of pleasing my small but then-dedicated cadre of viewers).

    I felt like the resource-management thing with the bullets essentially wasn’t, and that really annoyed me. It was a non-mechanic because the game always gave you basically the exact number of bullets you strictly needed for the intended playstyle with basically no wiggle room – there wasn’t really space for trade offs like using a few extra bullets to make a fight easier but knowing you’d need to save a few later on. You had just enough bullets to shoot the people you really had to shoot and that was about it. Which isn’t BROKEN at least, but it’s also not very interesting.

    • Danda says:

      Yes, exactly. Basically, you had to memorize the walkthrough and follow it to a T.

  3. hungrycookpot says:

    I remember seeing the trailer for this game years ago, it was something like some scavengers attacking a guy over a bottle of water and they were all standing on a glass ceiling which predictably ended up breaking and dropping everyone before the screen cut to the title. I was really interested in the game but then I feel like it just dropped off the earth after release and nobody ever talked about it again.

    • basilisk says:

      If I remember correctly, the development was very troubled, and the game ended up being made by an entirely different studio than the one who came up with the idea and made that trailer. And the studio that ended up making it was very inexperienced and the budget was slashed to almost nothing.

      There was a seed of a good and interesting game somewhere in there, but it never really developed into anything.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Besides their budget was so small, they used Splinter Cell: Conviction engine and lots of its assets: 3D objects, NPCs, animations.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    I’ve not played it. Does that mean I’m not really living?

    Here’s hoping somebody takes the good ideas and irons out the bad.

  5. Danda says:

    Wow, I Am Alive had some really great ideas, but they were so badly realized… It’s like one of those bad movies or TV shows whose ideas are so good that they deserve a good remake.

    For example, the game seemed really “open” until you realized that you were going to die if you didn’t play it the right way. “Yes, you can go that way, but you are going to get exhausted and then there’s no way to turn back. But you won’t know it until it’s too late”. That was really annoying.

    Did anybody get to mod it? Was it even possible? I remember that the game director was a bit hostile toward PC players.

  6. HeavyStorm says:

    Did Adam submitted this article by accident? I was reading, expecting to understand what those great ideas were and what was boring about the game and

  7. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    That might be overly harsh, actually. It is true that the game never fully realizes its good ideas, but I found it to have the precise length to keep being interesting until the end. As a counterpoint, I thought the first Assassin’s Creed tried to fill like 50 hours of game with basically three types of fetch quests, and I was desperate for it to just end when I wasn’t even halfway through.

    Then again, I Am Alive’s atmosphere worked its magic all the way for me, and I liked the whole stamina-based platforming a lot. Maybe if those don’t work for you, the experience breaks down much sooner.

  8. Behrditz says:

    I got really mad at this game. I bought it thinking it was just going to be a regular kind of post-disaster game with interesting ideas. I quickly realized, no, its A PUZZLE GAME. This is very clearly ONE WAY to get through every extremely linear area. The melee system (which works by ensuring damage is traded, you cant be a “better fighter”)is essentially just your lives counter which you only use if you mess up the enemy placement puzzles.

  9. Tomo says:

    Very harsh. I seem to remember actually really liking this, especially as it was only 6 or 7 hours long. Didn’t outstay its welcome and offered something unique. A bit of a primer for The Last of Us, which built a similar disaster setting in just how brutal it felt compared to other dystopian games.

  10. waltC says:

    So, Adam, I gather you would be in favor of a title change here, to, oh, “I am Dead”…?…;)

  11. Sin Vega says:

    The ideas were great but most were implemented so tight-fistedly that it defeated the point. Bluffing that you have ammunition for your gun sounds fantastic, but then it turns out that it’s basically just something you can only do in specific situations to solve what is essentially a puzzle. It’s a bit of a waste really, felt far too restrictive.

    I liked its art style and atmosphere though, and it had a better setting than most ‘survival’ type games. And was one of the five or so that existed prior to 2013, when twenty trillion of them were warped in out of nowhere.

  12. Peppergomez says:

    What is the point of these very short Have You Played articles? They are so brief as to be not helpful at all.