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'I Am Alive' review: New survival game intense, but worth your time?

New downloadable game delivers an admirably unique experience, but doesn't live up to its potential.

I Am Alive Review: Is new post-apocalyptic game worth your time?
Ubisoft brings new survival adventure game to current-generation game consoles Ubisoft

The game I Am Alive got a lot of attention during its development for its take on the post-apocalyptic action-survival genre. It's a game with a lot of innovative ideas and interesting twists on modern game mechanics, but none get the attention and growth they deserve.

The result is that many seem unable to decide what to make of the game. Receiving review scores like 4.5 from IGN and 8.0 from GameSpot, (a CBS Interactive property like CNET), I Am Alive seems to be a game that's very much what you make of it.

As a survivor of the catastrophic "event" that led to the general collapse of society and destruction of the city you call home, you scavenge what you can to find your way back to the wife and child you left behind. It's not a groundbreaking premise, but the allure is in the execution.

You're not leveling up and stocking your Mary Poppins bag full of weapons and ammo. Instead you're equipped with only a machete, a pistol, and eventually a bow and arrow. You'll scrounge nooks and crannies for every lonesome bullet you can find as you'll rarely find yourself with more than a handful at a time. Case in point -- there's no reload button. This sense of conservation and desperation makes the experience feel much more Metro 2033 than Fallout 3 (minus the mutant monsters).

Survival is the name of the game. You'll manage your resources, your health, and your stamina bar as you climb and fight your way through the suffocating dust-filled streets and crumbling skyscrapers.

PlayStation.Blog.Europe, via Flickr

Enemy encounters are intimate affairs that require keen assessment to best utilize the tools at your disposal while not leaving you defenseless for the next group of ill-intentioned "baddies." Often you won't know who's an enemy, a soul in need, or just some sod trying to protect himself. The tension is deep in the core of the experience of I Am Alive.

The game's real drawback -- and what has clearly garnered most of the title's negative feedback -- is its general lack of polish and refinement.

The graphics are nothing to write home about, but then it is a downloadable title and the world's dust and fog does a good job of hiding most of those muddy textures. The game can be completed in less than five hours and there are no extras to speak of.

Many of the elements the game introduces would lend themselves well to a much larger game if fleshed out properly. The story is touching, but feels bland thanks to the lack of decent character development and feels unresolved in the end.

I Am Alive is a perfect example of the gaming industry trying to do something different, less mainstream, and just not believing in its product. It's a game that deserves your attention for its atmosphere and interesting survival dynamics. It's worth your time, though you may feel left hanging in the end.

I Am Alive is available for download now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It's rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

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