Left Alive, the latest Square Enix release, a “Survival Action Shooter” “stealth” game, came out Tuesday with a lot of hype behind it. Like many games it seems today that hype train came to a screeching halt only moments after launching off the platform. Often times I disagree with steam reviews, almost always, but this time I have to admit they are on point. Left Alive should have definitely been left behind, because this isn’t what we wanted or what was advertised.
I’m going to be honest, once I heard about this game and the fact that Yoji Shinkawa was part of the team I was stoked. The trailers were awesome, the gameplay videos we saw looked great. It was building up to be an awesome title. Big stompy mechs, stealth gameplay, it reminded me of the original Metal Gear Solid only as a modern game. What more could we ask for? I don’t know, maybe a halfway decent game? About the only thing this game has going for it is the fact that Yoji Shinkawa was part of the design, that’s about it. I feel like I’ve been transported back in time and I’m playing a game that was built for the PS1 with the same limitations (if not more) that the system had. Clunky gameplay, performance slowdowns, lackluster story (not a PS1 limitation however), the list goes on. The moment I booted the game up on my PS4 and stepped into the game for the first time I was like, yeah, this looks awesome! As soon as I started to move my character, however, I knew things wouldn’t turn out well.
This is being sold as a “Survival Action Shooter.” You would expect this to be such, you’d also be wrong. The game plays like a traditional stealth game, think Metal Gear Solid. But think MSG without stealthy take-downs. With distraction tools that don’t work half the time. Where if an enemy spots you, you are dead almost guaranteed. You literally have no chance, even on the easiest difficulty setting. I’ve found no other weapons than a Crowbar and the pistol you automatically have. Your pistol has limited ammo, and takes forever to kill an enemy. No headshots, sorry, the AI have a single hitbox. Melee weapons such as that crowbar I found have durability as well, making them pointless after 2 melee “kills.” Generally I wouldn’t mind the game being this difficult. I like the challenge, especially in a game such as this where stealth is the key feature. The problem I have is that there is not a single stealth take-down move you can do. So you either A: Attempt to avoid the enemy with a distraction lure, most likely fail and die, or B: go guns-a-blazing, which by the way is an advertised feature, and lose the firefight almost instantly. You basically have no chance.
Gunplay sucks, plain and simple. With a single hitbox, you cannot make your shots “count,” therefore your only option is to just blast away at the enemy. These enemies have a hefty health pool, and so far my only weapon (a handgun) takes almost my entire ammo reserve to kill a single one. Also bare in mind that these enemy AI can see you a mile away, they also have super human hearing. Couple that with extremely clunky controls and you have a game that feels like you’re aiming on an N64 controller playing Golden Eye again. Wait, scratch that, Golden Eye had better controls, sorry Square. Seriously, the controls are very bad. We’re living in 2019, we have advanced technology with games now, hell we even have VR. There is absolutely no reason for a game to come out today, or the last 10 years for that matter, with controls this bad. I want to make clear that I am also playing on the PS4, I’m unsure how the controls vary on the PC version but I’d assume its just as bad considering it’s a console port.
The only redeeming quality the game has for me was the giant Mech fights. Being able to use a giant Mech and blow stuff up was fun, albeit too easy. It’s a stark contrast against the normal sections of the game that seem extremely too difficult.
Square Enix could learn a thing or two from this disaster of a launch. One key point would to be adding stealth take-downs to a stealth oriented game. But that’s just my opinion. With a price tag of $59.99, I couldn’t honestly recommend it to anyone in it’s current shape. Maybe they can take this and shape it into a better game with a patch or 200. Being Square Enix, I also don’t expect it to go on sale any time soon. All I can say is keep an eye on it and hope they fix it soon. The game had a lot of promise, it’s a shame they basically sugar coated their gameplay to make it look better than it actually is.