End of days
Mankind scrabbles around for survival amid the devastation caused by an unidentified catastrophe. You were a four-hour flight away when your home city of Haventon was struck; it's taken you a year to get back. It's been even longer since you last heard from your wife and daughter. In I Am Alive on PlayStation 3, you must contain your rising desperation to survive and reunite your family.
Almost nothing remains of the life you left behind. All you can do is piece together the tales told by shattered survivors, pick your way through old haunts and pray that someone or something points you in the direction of your loved ones.
There are no supernatural forces at work here, no criminal kingpins spewing bullets at you. The horror is an eerie, creeping kind, as you discover just how far your former neighbours have fallen in their struggle to live by any means possible. Aftershocks rock the fragile cityscape while suffocating dust storms whip up in seconds. Homecomings aren't meant to feel this bleak.
I Am Alive is the defiant answer, yet the question remains: who? Your family? Humanity? Find out by downloading it to your PS3 from PlayStation Store.
From dust, a dawn
Blanketed in white dust, the city of Haventon looks like a chocolate-box winter scene gone awry: you pad noiselessly through deserted streets and you almost expect everyone to be inside their homes tucking into hearty meals.
But the haphazard skeletons of skyscrapers alert you to the fact that something seismic has taken place in I Am Alive. Whatever happened has left the sewers exposed, railway bridges splintered and even a boat stranded in the city centre. This bizarre environment, with its perilous walkways and foreboding tunnels, is the jungle you must navigate in the search for your family.
As you explore, you'll add markers to your tattered map: here's a barbed wire fence, there's a pile of car wrecks. Landmarks are crucial since the streets presented as neat lines on your map are blurred and ruined in reality.
The search for your loved ones is divided up into episodes, your precious camcorder filling in the gaps in grainy black and white footage. As this personal journey unfolds, you'll realise that almost as bewildering as the destructive event itself is the reason you were torn apart in the first place.
Every step, each bullet and all energy must be expertly managed in I Am Alive. Leave yourself short at a crucial moment and you risk perishing – or even worse, betraying your own values to pull through.
Some survivors will be only too happy to see a friendly face and may ask you for help. Obliging them improves your overall score while reinforcing the sense that you are a good person in a decaying world.
Others will see you as a threat – and this is where your true survival instinct really kicks in. Often a group of scavengers will spot you. If you raise your gun, you risk them opening fire. So you need to work out how to take out the most aggressive members and then intimidate the rest into surrendering.
All this uses stamina, the fuel that lets you climb, sprint and fight to safety, although if you do fail, there are a limited number of retry options available. You can find more of these, along with climbing gear, new weapons, batteries, food and anything else that might help your quest scattered around.
Explore the ruins of Haventon, preserve your sanity and never submit to the barbarity that has claimed the city. You may well be alive – but can you keep your own humanity intact?