Alone With You Review
You’re alone. Everyone is gone and you’re on a time limit. Alone With You seemingly puts you and your character in an unenviable position right from the start until you realize you’re not actually alone. Accompanied by an ever present AI the game delivers a harsh yet serene story and has many parallels with the excellent narrative and man/AI bond found in 2012’s Halo 4 – and yes, I may have named my character John. Unfortunately, though, the gameplay cannot be compared to the masterful suite of mechanics found in the title that has you lost on an alien world with no escape in sight – oh wait, both have similar plots. A lot of potential is lost as the active play experience just doesn’t match up with the heights the story hits.
You’re objective is to escape a doomed planet, and along the way, a lot of the world building is done through discovering objects as the AI gives you tidbits of information about the universe. I didn’t expect a smaller title to have such a well thought out account of events taking place prior to when you were dropped in. My AI companion started to grow on me with the excellent writing and funny quips. In one instance after reading a grisly note, I chimed in, via the simple dialogue choices, that I didn’t really find it interesting and the AI piped, “I wonder if that’s because you’re focused on our task, or if you don’t empathize.” There are many other moments like this where I learned more about the psyche of this strange AI and that only drove me further to find out what the next quirky or interesting thing it would say was. At certain points, the game will allow you to explore and walk around while the AI talks to you, similar to how titles like The Last of Us feature partners who chime in during the downtime and exploration segments. But in this case, I was more interested in conversing with my new AI friend than actually playing the game. While the mystery and story deliver the actual ‘game’ experience doesn’t cut it.
“What is does get abundantly right is its unique tone, powerful narrative, masterful writing, and a visual style that fooled me into underestimating it makes it worthy of praise.”
As to how the game actually plays and what you’ll be doing minute-to-minute, it’s mostly quiet segments where the player is tasked with finding and interacting with things, with a few puzzles thrown in. There are also a few interactive cutscene-style segments a la Transistor where the player can move around their hovercraft, although it’s not nearly as good as what is present in Transistor. It’s a testament to what is built around the shallow gameplay, replete with unlocking doors and general busywork, that it didn’t really bother me or turn me off the entire package as the narrative and relationships I cultivated became my main driving forces.
And relationships are a big part of Alone With You. The game throws a bit of a twist as you find out you can actually speak to one of the four lead colonists that were once present on the planet as part of a larger initiative, and this is where the game introduces a romantic element. These recreations, based on our AI friend’s data about each one, are essentially the same character without actually being alive. And while these segments are interesting, I never found them to exceed my interactions with the AI, although they were more enjoyable than the puzzle solving and object identification. The game is wrapped up in a bit-like aesthetic that, as previously stated, may fool you into thinking it’s something that it is most definitely not. Its sci-fi tunes and brief, stylized cutscenes get the job done for the most part, but everything seemingly acts as a support structure for the narrative that is placed high above the rest of the experience.
However, after all of my pondering, I still felt strongly in favor for Alone With You. Its issues are fundamental to enjoying a game in the way of the actual gameplay, but everything that surrounds it is endearing. What the game needed was more meaningful play segments instead of the abundance of shallow scavenging and puzzle solving. But what is does get abundantly right is its unique tone, powerful narrative, masterful writing, and a visual style that fooled me into underestimating it makes it worthy of praise.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Meaningful world building
- Serene narrative
- Excellent Writing
- Boring gameplay