Left Alive, although it can be completed in about 10 hours, puts patience to a hard test. Square Enix decided to prepare something for Front Mission fans by releasing Left Alive. The game was to be a mixture of survival, stealth and action, in which we sometimes walk on foot, and sometimes sit behind the controls of huge mechs. Just look at the description of Left Alive, e.g. on Steam, to see that veterans: Toshifumi Nabeshima (director, worked on the Armored Core series), Yoji Shinkawa from Kojima Productions (character designer, worked on the Metal Gear Solid series) and Takayuki Yanase (mech designer, known from Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Xenoblade Chronicles X). Therefore, one should expect something tailored to celebrities, but it is already a few moments from the moment you turn on the game that it is not a top-shelf title and it will not be anything like MGSV.
You don’t have to be a Front Mission fan to understand the story. The action takes place in 2127. The balance of power has changed – typical countries have been replaced by economic blocks. Wanzery are used in conflicts all over the world – mechs that work well in all types of terrain. In December 2127, the Republic of Garmonia, near the Black Sea, unexpectedly declared war on a neighboring country – the Republic of Ruthenia, and invaded the border city of Novo Slava. Ruthenia’s startled defensive forces have fallen. The battle seemed to end in the blink of an eye.
In the game we have the ability to direct three heroes, fighting on the losers side. The first is young Mikhail, a newly recruited Wanzer pilot who belongs to the Ruthenia Army. In addition to Mikhail, there is also police officer Olga and mercenary Leonid, who managed to escape from prison in the chaos that began after the war. Each of the characters is in a destroyed city of Novo Slava for a different reason. The campaign consists of 14 missions, and the characters’ threads connect with each other and force them to help each other.
When we jump into the shoes of the first character, Mikhail, we find ourselves at his destroyed mech, among burning cars and buildings. It is snowing, Christmas decorations remind us that it should be a joyful time. Instead of cheerful people, the streets are full of invaders. We see scenes straight from World War II, when civilians are simply shot. The aggressors are trying to kill the survivors to one.
Mikhail feels lost and helpless, tries to ask for help, but no one answers. However, when the enemies approach, he decides not to let himself be killed. At the moment we are taking control over it. We can pick up the first items, try to escape the soldiers shooting at us (the fight has little sense even at the lowest difficulty level). Along the way, we will find a lot of useful things, ranging from ammunition to various types of weapons, through first aid kits, to materials from which we can make, e.g. Molotov cocktails, mines, traps and many more.
During the game you can come across independent characters that you can talk to. There are also dialog choices, which can be considered a plus, but it is not always clear what our character will say and what the consequences will be. You can also try to save civilians scattered at various points in the city, which affects the end of the game, but it is difficult to protect people, they run thoughtlessly to a safe place and attract the attention of their enemies – so it would be better to clear their path first, which with pathetically useless weapons that we only waste time and resources. It might be easier on NG +, but is it worth getting tired for a replay of entertainment?
After mastering the most important rules, we have some freedom in exploring the location. Exploration, however, is not the best idea, when there are enemies almost everywhere, it is difficult to kill and focus the attention of the whole army – easily. As for the impression of being small and weak – the creators have definitely succeeded. In some games it would be praise, in this case it is not. Hitting Molotov at the enemy is not enough to kill him. Shooting him in the head several times is also not enough (which in combination with imprecise aiming – and especially on the pad! – drives you crazy). What’s worse, if we make noise, others will converge. There is not much ammunition, so it is even worse for us. Ammunition of different types suits specific weapons, and we can’t carry everything around the arm, because we have a limited weight of items we can have. In the first missions you don’t feel it yet, but later it’s harder. We can forget about the fistfight, as well as the silent elimination of those who stand in our way. You can sneak up on enemies and attack them with e.g. a metal tube. Of course, one hit is not enough, so you need to beat the opponent a little, knock him down and only when he is lying on the ground, finish off. Somehow, after just a few blows, the tube is completely destroyed. There are minor defenses in melee combat, but the enemy is always easier. Sometimes we lose control over a character who has been wounded or stunned and we can only watch her being killed.
Therefore, it would be best to avoid conflicts whenever possible, but there are times when you can’t slip unnoticed. So you can search for the right solution by trial and error, which takes a lot of time. When, after long and complicated combinations, it happens to die just before the point where you could save the game, which loses, for example, 20 minutes of progression, I want to turn off the console rather than start all over again. Instead of bothering with clearing the road, sometimes I preferred to try to run and hoped that nothing would kill my character before I reach the target, I can get on the fumes of health. In the end, getting into the fight, I lost even more.
When we stop near the opponent, we will hear from the communicator that the enemy is approaching. You can go crazy. It is often difficult to guess how to behave with artificial intelligence. Hiding behind covers is, so you can sneak in theory. In practice, sometimes AI behaves as if it could x-ray obstacles and sees from a very long distance, sometimes you can easily pass by next to the enemy. If we are detected, it remains either to run somewhere and hide (unless we are shot before we turn the other way), or load the last record.
In Left Alive, it’s hard to have fun when the tools we have at hand often cause confusion and draw unwanted attention to us rather than help clear our way, only a few things are worth using. As an action game, this title works well in the rare moments when we have the opportunity to sit behind the controls of the mecha-Wanzer. We don’t die immediately, yay! But why is this system moving like a fly in pitch? Okay, okay, the machines are big and very heavy, so you can’t expect too much – and because it makes them fun to control, that’s another matter.
In terms of graphics it is tolerable at most. The characters – their faces and costumes – look good, but the surrounding textures or strange, stiff moving animations don’t make a good impression. The audio setting also leaves a lot to be desired. Neither the weapon sounds sound good nor the music – as soon as the conflict begins, the same theme is played over and over again.
Left Alive is hard to recommend. History may or may not be liked, here rather without revelations. The game can be passed, but I do not fully understand the idea of depriving players of the possibilities by which they can have fun in other titles. If you can’t just shoot them all, let at least the sneaking mechanisms be good. If sneaking is not always possible, let the hero or heroine make up for his agility. Yes, in Left Alive there are mechanisms from shooters, from stealth, and from survival, but they leave much to be desired. The not very beautiful audiovisual setting is not encouraging either.