Developer: Benjamin Rivers Inc.
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers Inc.
Platform: PS4, PS Vita
Release Date: August 23, 2016
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game
Alone With You bills itself as a â€œsci-fi romance adventure game.â€ Before watching the trailer, I“d heard next to nothing about this small slice of retro-adventuring. Having experienced what Alone With You has to offer, it“s more along the lines of an interactive version of The Martian, with a little bit of the film Her thrown in for good measure. It“s an intensely melancholic, somber game, but one that effectively pulls at the heart-strings. I won“t spoil anything beyond the basic premise, but know that you might want to bring a tissue box for the endings.
You take on the role of the last human survivor of an interstellar colony. The host planet is in the death throes of a failed terraforming project and mining operation. There is only one goal; to escape. The lone survivor, however, isn“t quite as alone as he or she first appears. The colony is monitored by a personable AI whose name is a mishmash of incomprehensible letters and numbers. No matter. The AI knows your name, and that“s all that matters.
To get off-world, the survivor has to repair an escape ship and hope to be picked up by passing shipping vessels. The AI creates hologram versions of four of the colony“s most important members, assembling a dream-team to help the survivor rebuild the ship. Each hologram has many of the memories and character traits of the long-deceased colonist. In fact, the simulation is so good that the holograms are eerily life-like, as if they truly exist in their simulated worlds. Alone With You dabbles in some of these existential quandaries, but never delves too deeply.
The most pressing matter, of course, is scouring several locations for ship parts. Alone With You then becomes a classic adventure game, complete with some light puzzle-solving and environmental exploration. All of this serves to carry the narrative forward, especially as you unearth details about the past lives of the four hologram colonists. The game progresses in days, with the survivor only able to visit one location per 24 hours before taking a quick nap. Depending on which sites you visit, you“ll get to talk with a corresponding hologram and report your findings.
I mentioned that Alone With You is repetitive in nature, and it feels like a purposeful design choice. The character is alone, and undergoing the same daily routines feels oddly fitting for the sole survivor of a mining colony. Some might be deterred by this decision, but I felt like it fit with the story. As the only living human around, you get stuck with having limited travel options and a short period of time to escape.
The most rewarding part of the game is getting to talk to the other colonists. They all have unique personalities, and finding certain documents or items in the real-world will open up new dialogue options. There“s also some degree of romance, though I hesitate to use the term. It“s more about companionship and trying to fight the feeling of isolation. Regardless, a few encounters have romantic undertones, should the player so choose to pursue them.
Alone With You is visually striking, favoring a retro-pixel aesthetic. The game looks like something out of Sierra“s ”90s catalog. The audio is appropriately spartan, with a somber electronic soundtrack backing the sound effects. The artistic choices combine to make the player feel lonely and abandoned on this world. The conversations with the AI, however, remind the survivor that he or she is never truly alone.
After the midpoint of the game, the experience begins to drag on. There“s some mild back-tracking, though each visit to a site opens up new areas. The repetition of waking up, checking in with the AI mainframe, and flying out to a location gets to be a bit much. Perhaps that“s the point, creating a sense of overbearing futility. A few players might be turned off by this, but those that stick through to the end will have an emotional payoff awaiting them.
Alone With You is a melancholic exploration of what it means to be alive. It“s also a sci-fi adventure game with some romance. That classification, however, doesn“t really do the game justice. There“s definitely a game here, but it serves as a vehicle for the emotional stories of the colonists. If you give Alone With You a chance, you“ll discover that space is never as lonely as it seems.
+ A well-written story that tugs at the heart
+ Beautiful visuals and audio
+ Some smart puzzle design that never proves too challenging
- Can drag on at several points
- A bit too repetitive for its own good
Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Alone With You is a melancholic exploration of what it means to be alive. If you give it a chance, you“ll discover that space is never as lonely as it seems.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher