In I Am Live you play as Carlo, who has returned to his home city of Haventon a year after "The Event" in search of finding his family. The Event has left Haventon a ruin, with deadly dust in the air and little in the way of food, resources or order. You travel the city helping citizens while trying to survive and find clues on what happens to your family in the past year.
The game does a really good job at conveying a city in ruin; people forming violent gangs, defensive citizens wary of strangers. I really liked the city and the atmosphere it brought. It felt like the right size and navigating it was fun and interesting.
The overall story of trying to find your family isn't very engaging.There is little emotional depth beyond going to your family home. It dose serve its purpose well enough for giving you a reason to go through the city and you gain further motives from the people you meet in your travel; however there is always a feeling of disconnect and missed opportunity with the narrative.
I Am Alive is a survival focused game, with a health bar and stamina bar playing key roles in how you interact with the environment. Most actions in the game drain stamina, running, walking through dust, etc. Scaling buildings is a big part of navigating the city; which is where stamina plays a key part, each action draining stamina and often leading to tight decisions on how to continue.
The combat is made up of set pieces where you face off against multiple enemies. You have a machete and a gun with very limited ammunition with a variety of tactics to use to achieve the best results. The combat is unforgiving, making a mistake often means death (Even; quickly having to analyse enemies weapons and the best tactic to take out the group.
The game has a camera filter which blanches the colour from the world which gives an oppressive feel and a grain to give the feeling of dust. Otherwise the games looks passable. It looks right but isn't going to be memorable or get any awards for graphics or style.
While I Am Alive is not a horror game, the gameplay makes for a tense survival experience. It really makes each action and encounter count, which is something I really like in games. I hope that other games, specifically the survival horror genre, created more game like it.