Can a one-man dev/publisher team deliver on emotional resonance in this sci-fi romance adventure? Let’s find out in our review of “Alone With You”.
When I saw the trailer for “Alone With You”, my first thought was: “My, the art looks pretty!”. And it does. It truly, really does. It has a je ne sais quoi that can only be expressed by using a posh french phrase. The way you move, the way perspective is handled, it adds up to quite a visual treat. What the trailer can’t ready you for, however, is the emotional turmoil and havoc that Benjamin Rivers has been able to pack into this indie release.
You’re the lone survivor of a colony in a far-away planet. You must interact with the AI that was in charge of running the place, as well as the holograms of your of your (dead) colleagues in order to try and cobble together enough resources to repair your ship and go back to Earth.
Considering how story-heavy the game is, it’d be a crime to spoil it for you… not only due to the game’s reliance on the story for content, but because of the quality of it all. So, I’ll summarize: as you interact with the holograms and gather resources, you start learning that these people left lives behind. They existed. They were humans. They made mistakes. They were great. They were low.
You build up parts and other necessities for your ship, yes, but the game’s focus is interaction and emotional development. Does it succeed?
In a word: absolutely.
I want to move on to other aspects of the game, but I have to stress that the story is what you’re here for. The medium of “video game” is a tool to deliver a fantastic emotional punch.
Having said that, we can’t expect overly-complicated game play mechanics, and indeed we won’t find them here. While I understand that the story and interaction elements are the core of the game, though, there was a point (about half-way through the game) where I thought: “I wish there was more variety to what I need to do”. Most of my activities were divided into either sleeping, interacting with holograms or doing fetch-quests for the AI.
While these fetch-quests did move the story forward, and they were populated by backstory and character development, they also become tedious and repetitive. Not overly so, but just enough to detract from the otherwise great experience I was having with the game. It felt like the game could have done with either more variety in terms of activity, or a more condensed story.
Going back to the game the way looks for a bit, I have to repeat myself and say that the art is phenomenal: nostalgic and pixel-y, yes, but also full of charm and character. There is an overlay used throughout the game to add more personality to the environments that I thought was a genius, resource-friendly way of dealing with a possible monotony in the art style. I just wish there were a couple of variations in the overlay department, though, as it got planted firmly in my brain in certain cutscenes.
The game runs extremely well 99% of the time: loads lightning fast and there are but a couple of frame drops. I did, sadly, experience two crashes. The game autosaves, so I didn’t lose too much progress, but both were at critical points in the story where I just wanted to progress, and having to do the already repetitive chores to advance the story felt unpleasant.
The music and sound are also highlights, being a joyful mix of modern chip-tune and sci-fi sound effects that drip nostalgia but without relying solely on it.
The level design is functional but not overly complex. There are puzzles to solve but only the last two or three will really require you to concentrate. Again, this may count as a negative for some, but for me, any more complexity would have been like adding chain and padlocks to a book: just because a story is more difficult to get to, doesn’t make it better.
In the end, this is a perfect example of substance over appearance (which considering how pretty the game is, it’s saying a lot).
Yes, as a game, “Alone With You” may be flawed. It may crash on you once or twice, and the missions can be a bit repetitive. But as an emotional experience, as a story-driven entertainment proposal, it’s near-perfect. And you know what? That’ll do me. That’ll do me just fine, thanks.
At a Glance:
- Title: Alone With You
- Publisher: Benjamin Rivers
- Developer: Benjamin Rivers
- Format: PSN Download
- Size on Card: 1.4Gb