Bad, there are no more words to describe the overall experience offered by this presentation by Left Alive, especially from a visual point of view. Even the super cool artwork prepared by Yoji Shinkawa won’t be able to save him. Left Alive feels like a game that was released, a generation or even two too late. A game that you should enjoy in the era of the Playstation 2 or Playstation 3.
Sounds brutal? Believe it or not, this fact is what you swallow as a bitter pill when enjoying this stealth survival game. You will meet so many low-resolution textures that “greet” you from all angles of existing city design, from rocks to Wanzer – mecha that should be the visual appeal of this one game. The visual effects that should have made everything more dramatic, from the light appearing from the darkness to the flames that appeared during the Molotov pitch were also handled badly. Put simply, Left Alive carries visuals that should have wowed you if they were released, maybe 10 years ago. There is a strong impression that this game was developed on a low budget.
The character model offered is the same. Even though they look stunning when the cut-scenes are running, the same quality details are not visible when you play them live during gameplay. You will also encounter many moments where a new texture will appear after a fraction of a second you enter an area. But even waiting for this texture to load doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better visual experience, as it still looks like a generation-lagging game. The same thing happens to various weather effects which, instead of making it even more charming, actually produce the opposite effect.
But one of Left Alive’s most ridiculous parts from the presentation side seems to lie in the motion animation itself. Although it must be admitted that in some parts, especially when he met Wanzer who was on patrol in the city, he managed to leave the impression of a tough and heavy machine from the movement, most of the game’s animations were stiff and uncomfortable. From character movements when playing that do not reflect modern products, to the sensation of using Mecha / Wanzer that feels messy. Motion animation systems, attack animations, damage animation, and animation using weapons feels like an outdated product. Even worse? They couldn’t even handle the effects of the flashlight very well. Instead of shooting forward like a normal flashlight, turning on this lighting tool actually leaves you walking in a circle of light which is completely unhelpful.
The same thing, unfortunately, happens on the audio side. Fortunately, the OST that accompanies you, especially on the main menu, can be said to be quite satisfying and effective in building the atmosphere that Left Alive wants to offer. But for the other side? Are in the shadow of the same quality. The sound of the effects of footsteps, attacks, weapons, to voice acts that should strengthen the side of the story cannot be said to have met the existing quality standards. But as for the last business – voice acts, it is still in a tolerable stage.
So with all of this in combination, Left Alive’s presentation must be admittedly disappointing. That despite their big idea to build a “playing arena” that focuses on the chaotic and devastating urban war situation, none of the sides of the presentation are stunning. The visual and audio quality is lagging behind a generation, which gives a strong impression that the development process is really tied to a small budget. This is a game that might have looked stunning 10 years ago, not now.
A Cruel Joke
From the above discussion, you will of course know that Left Alive is essentially a stealth survival game, where hiding and moving along a safe path is a rational solution to many problems. While on the other hand, the survival side is presented through the concept of limited resources which makes you have to mix your own items with existing materials in the name of strategic advantage. This combination of firearm bullets and a variety of crafted equipment should help you navigate Novo Slava safely. So, where does Left Alive go wrong?
The biggest problem with this game is the strong impression that the developer doesn’t understand how to mix a stealth game that should be. Stealth game that is tense, but on the other hand feels modern and rational to go. What Left Alive currently offers is a stealth game that is formulated with a third-person shooter approach from a mechanical side. The result is a game that is by design, confusing and irrational.
No need to dive too far. Believe it or not, regardless of its status as a stealth based game, Left Alive doesn’t have a stealth takedown system at all. That’s right, you CANNOT move behind your opponent and finish them off using a feature that should be considered “standard” for all games with this stealth element. Imagine a stealth game WITHOUT stealth takedown, what kind of genius had the brilliant mind to present a system like this.
Melee based attacks of course require melee weapons. The first problem was that the melee weapons in Left Alive could be damaged after a few uses, causing them to lose their effectiveness. This means, you can’t use a melee weapon for every situation. Second problem? The crafting system does not facilitate the melee weapon crafting process. This means that if your melee weapon is damaged and you find no extra backup during the exploration process, the automatic melee option is gone. There is no crafting for him. The third and biggest problem? The enemy will not be killed with just one melee attack from you, even from behind. You need at least three hits (with Pipe) for them to fall and then execute them to death. Then what happen? Once you take one hit it means they are aware of where you are. If your second hit is due to an animation problem, misses for example, you are threatened. If you hit him close to another NPC, this attack will make a sound, and you will be threatened. If during the final blow animation, your melee weapon is damaged and the execution animation does not instantly kill the enemy, you are threatened. Genius design.
Okay, what if you rely on firearms for example? Congratulations, because you run into another defective element who also has problems when compared to other stealth-based games. The first problem, none of the weapons you get have a silencer. That’s right, there are no silencers or silent weapons! This means that if you are about to kill an enemy in plain sight, all your weapons will sound and your position will be discovered. The second problem that is even more serious? Left Alive does not carry a 1 headshot = 1 kill system which incidentally is the standard for stealth-based games. To kill just 1 enemy, you can issue 4-5 headshot bullets. An instant death system like this one means that whatever you do with your firearm will lead to open warfare, which with a rigid animation system will be another nightmare.
If there is no stealth takedown, melee attacks need 3 attacks, and the firearm system is present without silencers, then rationally Left Alive should carry Gears of War-style gameplay – where you are encouraged to shoot blindly and destroy everything. But the fact that it ends up being a stealth game that doesn’t facilitate stealth gameplay at all is one of the meanest pranks we’ve encountered in the gaming industry.
All of them are wrapped in an AI system that can be concluded, inconsistent. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what they can and can’t do. In one situation, you who are walking down, for example, can pass them at close range without them knowing it at all. But in other situations, the enemy’s AI suddenly becomes so sensitive and responsive that it can detect your position from afar. The worst part is when you are dealing with a Sniper who does occupy a high location. First, you don’t have a standard weapon that can reach and finish them from afar. Second? They have very sharp eyes to aim at you from a distance and tell you where you are, even if you’re playing as safely as possible. The range of sound that the NPC can hear is also inconsistent, where sometimes they can hear your firearm at close range, while in other conditions it immediately surrounds you when you shoot it from a distance. Only psychics can predict the AI behavior in this game.
Still not bad enough? Left Alive also features enemy types that take this design flaw even higher. Two prime examples? Drones and troops with shields. Drones as we know them, fly. They will be actively moving on a specific, predetermined path, which is sometimes on the path you want to take. Now how do you destroy them? You cannot attack meleeically because you cannot fly. Best solution? Shoot them with a firearm that clearly has a sound and has the potential to call attention to nearby. Enemies with shields also come with a similar dilemma. For a game that has limited resources, including bullets, spending it on one enemy protecting them with a large shield is a stupid move. Something you have to do because basically, you don’t have many other solutions. Special weapons such as the sniper, for example, will be positioned as “special” weapons that you have to throw away when the bullets run out.
The combination of these elements makes Left Alive a stealth game with a messy mechanic. A stealth game without the support of a stealth mechanic is an amateurish design that makes you curious and keeps asking, “What was the designer really thinking?”
Like a cruel joke, there’s no clearer line to explain what Square Enix has to offer with Left Alive. Basically, you can see the potential about the concept he wants to offer. A survival game based on stealth gameplay in the middle of an urban war that does require certain intelligence and strategy to complete. That in the midst of this chaos, you have the opportunity to not only determine your story in terms of options and consequences, but also act as a hero who saves the survivors trapped there. All of these concepts are wrapped in the Front Mission universe which has been covered in intrigue and cool fictional countries’ political conflicts. Moreover, Square Enix also promises the opportunity to use Wanzer, some of which are simply left behind. But unfortunately, things turned out to be catastrophic. Left Alive comes with the quality as if it was handled by amateur developers on a limited budget.
If you think that’s not bad enough, Left Alive also features a super ruthless checkpoint system that is ready to throw away progress once you make a mistake, especially considering it doesn’t have a “Save Anywhere” system which is usually so essential for games like this. You also have to deal with situations where the AI notification system will consistently warn you about enemy positions via voice. Given that the enemies are in almost any location, you’ll end up with a repetitive AI sound refusing to stay still. Outside of concept, the only thing we liked seemed to center around the OST, which luckily, came with a composition that represented an AAA game. Including the OST of the song from the Japanese band – Man with A Mission which came with the excitement it should be.
So, is Left Alive worth glancing at? Doesn’t seem like our answer. That despite all the things it has to offer, it feels like an outdated game confused by its own identity. These might be some of the games that managed to take our enthusiasm and energy into the review process before we raised our hands and gave up on finishing it.