Sunday 9 June 2019

Left Alive ★☆☆☆☆

‘Left Alive’ was a game announced in a 2017 Tokyo game show that completely came out of nowhere and almost promised to fill the ‘Metal Gear’ shaped hole in everyone's hearts. It had some excellent creators behind it, namely Yoji Shinkawa, for the artistic direction for the game, who rose to fame from ‘Metal Gear Solid’ as lead designer (and you may also know him from ‘Zone Of The Enders’). Because of this, you can’t blame fans for getting excited when seeing his art in a game again. We were also pretty hyped as ‘Left Alive’ was touted as a stealth action game in the same vein as ‘Metal Gear Solid’.

All in all, it set itself a very high standard to aspire to which in my opinion was never a good thing… Reaching those highs was always going to be difficult, even with Square Enix publishing the game. Even in the trailers that came out before release, the story looked intriguing enough, and there was rising hope the team would pull it off.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, and what has actually been released is a broken mess of a game that fails in most of what it tries to do by focusing on way too many different aspects within it, leading to mediocrity in all areas. It’s certainly not a game where the sum of its parts creates something, but rather one that frustrates the player.

The stealth action boils down to the player ducking behind various bits of cover in levels that are pretty much there to funnel you down corridors, with limited branching out when you wish to do side content. Ammo and resources are scarce which can deter you from approaching the side content as the rewards are not always worth the input. This is a shame as the writing in these side areas is often the best part of the game. The stealth action is also hindered by incredibly strange AI - one minute it’ll be standing there, looking at you like it’s lost, then other times it can spot you a mile off ducked behind completely opaque cover where you shouldn’t be visible. 

This lack of inspiring gameplay could be forgiven had the artistic nature of ‘Metal Gear Solid’ type games shone through, but unfortunately, this is also a muddy mess of textures that is more appropriate for the previous generation of games. In cutscenes the character models are serviceable, but this is not transferred over to gameplay where they look hard and stiff and almost lifeless at points.

On top of this, the story is only good until the moment it begins – a great concept, but it doesn’t deliver. It’s a military story at the forefront and just doesn't add anything to the experience. As mentioned earlier the side content contains the best parts but getting to them means you need to trawl through the main game, which I wouldn't suggest anyone suffer through.

As a total package ‘Left Alive’ doesn’t achieve anything besides being a mediocre media property that should never have been allowed to be released. It has interesting ideas and themes that are very reminiscent to ‘Metal Gear Solid’, but it never even comes close to it and unfortunately will not be remembered in the same light. If you find it in a really good sale then maybe it’s worth a try, but anything other than that stays well clear. 

Hannah Read

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