With the exception of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, fans of the survival horror genre haven’t really seen a quality title in quite some time. Due to technological advancements and demand from audiences; faster pacing, fluid gameplay and graphical achievements have greatly evolved the genre over the past fifteen years. And while its origins have been slowly fading into the abyss, there are still a handful of developers who continually try to recreate the suspense and terror that was once so popular.
Well, Pix Rev, a German dev team, is one of those developers. And let’s just say they’re not doing the genre any favors with their latest title, I’m Not Alone. But despite its lackluster performance, there are moments that really captivate the player’s attention. And so the question ultimately becomes: are those moments enough to help resurrect the genre?
If you dare, then read on to see if I’m Not Alone has the will to summon the dead.
I’m Not Alone is something reminiscent of the original Resident Evil days. Set in a haunted mansion, Patrick Weber (who strangely resembles Billy Ray Cyrus) travels to an isolated mansion to help free the Van Gruber manor of its demonic grip. Armed with daggers, a crossbow, and rock n roll exorcism, Weber fights against Hell’s fury to save humanity from total destruction.
Right out of the gates, playing I’m Not Alone is an immediate chore. The first thing players will notice is the terrible frame rate. Something as simple as panning the camera from left to right creates a slightly stalled motion blur, and when the game tries to up its technological prowess, gameplay is nearly impossible. The irony of it all is that the graphics aren’t even a technological marvel; in fact, I would categorize the visuals way under par for industry standard.
So it begs the question: what’s with the long load times? Since the game doesn’t require a beastly computer – nor does it push the graphical boundaries – why does it take roughly 40 seconds to load from a save? While 40 seconds may not seem like a long time, it becomes extremely irritating when you have to exit the game each time to save your progress, as the developers left out check points, auto saving, and quick saves. Any one of those three features would have been a blessing, so long as I don’t have to check out each time to save my progress, because when you die, you have to start a long ways back if you failed to save to your current location.
To add to that list, the combat mechanics are awful; hit detection is slighted by awkward timing, and at times, it feels like some of the enemies will never die. Whether you’re using the daggers or the crossbow, if you manage to hit any of the lost souls during their animation sequences, the damage doesn’t register. There are precise moments when you can hit the ghosts, and when you waste precious shots (“precious” due to long reload times) with the crossbow because of some ridiculous moment of invulnerability, your character not only gets raped, but you want to bash the keyboard against your skull out of frustration. Also, for some reason, your biggest threat is steep terrain, as you’re limited to how far down you can aim.
What’s even more frustrating about the combat is that you’re unable to have your weapons ready and equipped at all times. The only times you can holster your weapon is when you’re in the “Demon World”. Essentially, the combat process becomes: atmosphere changes to signal near by enemies, activate Demon World to see your enemies, equip weapon by pounding the keys three or four times. This process is long and redundant, and what adds to the frustration is that you can’t equip your weapon when you’re moving – you have to be stationary.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I agree, I’m Not Alone is absolutely horrendous. But strangely, while the basic premise sounds cliché and the voice acting is awful (at one point, they don’t even bother translating Weber’s lines from German to English), its storyline is its saving grace. To be honest, how else can a person stomach such a terribly made game and still finish it? There has to be some motivating factor, right?
As I delved deeper into the details behind the Van Gruber mansion, the terror and shock value began to capture my interest. Learning about Lilian Van Gruber’s obsession and coming across his victims created both a sense of anticipation and feeling of fear.
To reinforce the fear, the player has to fight and/or solve puzzles that directly link to some of the murder victims. Each of the prostitutes’ bodies, for example, were thrown into the swamps behind the house. Other than what you read in the journal, there are no distinguishing details about them, yet through deduction and tidbits of information, you learn that each of them were lured into the mansion only to be sacrificed, and then disposed in an inhumane manner.
It’s moments like these that really imprint the game into the player’s memory. Undoubtedly, a lot of people will have a difficult time seeing past the numerous flaws (not to mention, some of the puzzles are absurd and illogical), but for those who are patient, there lies an interesting game beneath it all. It’s just unfortunate that much of it is eclipsed by the game’s mechanics and bugs.
So, to answer my original question, this isn’t the survival horror title that will jump-start the genre, and at $40, you’re better off waiting a few months until the game hits the bargain bin. But if you’re still interested when the game finally drops in price, go ahead and check it out. Until then, you’re really not missing much.
The game will crash from time to time, and having to check out of the game in order to save, only to be met with a long loading period, will have you pounding your mouse against the desk.
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The low frame rates combined with terrible hit detection and illogical mechanics makes the game nearly unplayable.
For some reason, there are a few lines that weren't translated from German, and there is zero variety between combat sounds. Not to mention, hearing the piano from the menu just drills itself into your head.
The game will last roughly 15 hours, which is appropriate for this title. Anything more than that, and I may have never finished it.
There is sheer terror and an eerie brilliance found within the story, yet all the bugs, crashes, and illogical design choices prevent the game from shining through.