Combat is equally harsh, forcing you into tense showdowns where even pointing a gun at somebody is enough to reduce them to a wobbly mess. You start the game with a gun, but no bullets, and the game's numerous stick-ups become dotted conflicts of attrition and strategy. Killing somebody with a gun generally yields you their bullet (despite being able to fire dozens of shots, enemies can only ever drop a single round of ammunition), meaning you always prioritise armed enemies. You can also kick your foes into environmental hazards (well, two - big drops and open fires) if they refuse to surrender.
I Am Alive's combat mechanics are intriguing, but also primitive and distressingly repetitive. Ubisoft also doesn't really know what do with its concluding chapters, and eventually settles on giving you a hunting bow (with recoverable arrows) and devaluing its sense of struggle by ramping up its focus on combat. At first the occasional combat can be a struggle, but after you kill fifty people in a couple of hours you become the same superhero badass from every other action adventure on the market.
I Am Alive fancies itself as a human take on the survival of humanity, rather than another drab shooter. With beady, dead eyes and an emotionless face, however, the unnamed protagonist doesn't exactly ooze character from his dust-coated pores.
There's a bizarre alien quality to much of the supporting cast, too, who repeat their same lines of awkwardly-delivered dialogue every single time you pass trigger lines on the map. These victims scatter themselves around the world, and are supposed to be helpless fellow survivors in need of rescue, yet they never feel like they're anything more than lifeless game objects.
I Am Alive only really becomes a proper tale of human survival if you can look past the wonky mechanics and rough engine, if you can see past the rustic models and amateur dialogue, and if you can actually connect with the wailing cast of cardboard cut-outs. Ubisoft's vision is clear and ambitious, but it lacks the development talent and budget to be effectively realised.
It's not hard to knock I Am Alive, but despite the flaws it's also an easy game to like. But while we should be glad this project wasn't killed off in development hell, the sad truth is that I Am Alive never gets a chance to live.