Graphic novelist turned game developer Benjamin Rivers has been putting out interesting games ever since 2008’s Snow the Game, and his latest title blends adventure and dating genres. Dubbed as a “sci-fi romance adventure,” Alone With You places players in the shoes of the last survivor of a space colony that has gone haywire. Now, as the planet begins to implode, they must repair an escape ship and get off the colony that they’ve spent the past 16 years on.
I wasn’t alone on this adventure, as I was joined by the base’s artificial intelligence. Eager to aid my escape, the computer regularly told me what areas of the planet to explore in order to obtain parts I needed. The computer is actually presented with a solid personality, so it never felt like I was truly alone. I always had a friend with me that helped me cope with the areas I would uncover.
Exploring these areas take up the bulk of the game, and over three in-game weeks I got to see how the colony operated. The player is only armed with a scanner, so a lot of the game is naturally built around scanning areas for information. This allows for a lot of background information to be given by the AI, and I really enjoyed getting to learn about the planet.
While days are spent exploring the different areas of the planet (such as a greenhouse and a cave that was used for mining), the nights are spent in a hologram chamber. The player is able to talk to versions of deceased crew members that have been created by the base’s AI. The purpose of these conversations is to gain information from them in order to repair the ship (each of the four members I chatted with had their own area of expertise). This is the only human interaction (if you can even call it that) that’s had during the game, and it’s interesting seeing a computer simulation expressing doubt and experiencing growth just like the real person they’re based on.
Later on, the player will get some free time and is able to talk to these characters more leisurely. This is where the romance part of the game comes in, as the player can basically go on dates with any of these digital versions. These holographic interactions ended up being some of my favorite scenes in the game. In fact, it almost felt like the actual adventure part was a chore I had to get through in order to view these scenes.
That isn’t to say that the adventure game portion of Alone With You is poorly done, though. These segments are actually really interesting as they show the sad state of the planet, and what run down areas that are left on them. It’s just that these areas are very formulaic, and discovering more and more dead bodies grows tiresome at some point (although this was probably the desired impact). The puzzle solving in these areas are typically pretty straight forward (such as finding an item in one room and using it in another), although a few of the late game puzzles actually forced me to jot down notes as I had to figure out passwords for locked computers. While it isn’t a spectacular adventure game, it did drive the story forward.
Ultimately, the story raises more questions than it answers, but I don’t feel like this vagueness hurts the overall experience. While I was certainly fascinated in knowing what kind of shape Earth was in that caused a clearly rushed space colony to be constructed. I was fine with having the topic only hinted at instead of it being spelled out. Far too many games try to explain every last detail of their stories, and forget that a lot of the magic is found within the mystery. Players have imaginations, so I’m glad to see a game that forces them to use it.
That said, I do wish the romance scenes would’ve been fleshed out more. I feel like the concept of falling in love with someone who is already dead in the real world is incredibly fascinating, and was disappointed to see that the game never really dived into this direction. Each character has their own personality, but I was never given a reason to become attached to them. Granted, the whole getting off a planet that’s getting ready to explode thing is slightly more important than finding digital love, so maybe everyone’s priorities are properly in place. It still feels like a missed opportunity, though.
Alone With You Review – OK Computer (PS4)
Despite having several different romance options and endings, Benjamin Rivers hasn’t developed a game that is very enjoyable to be replayed. As most adventure games are, the solutions are set in stone. So that led to me playing the same exact areas over again just to see the second ending. A chapter select screen (or a mechanic to just skip the adventure game segments upon a second playthrough) could’ve relieved some of this frustration. I was left wanting to learn about every character’s backstory more, but had no desire to do the busy work multiple times.
One other thing that became apparent upon replaying the game a second time was that Alone With You is filled with technical issues. Several times I was able to walk outside of an area I was supposed to be in, and was basically locked out from an area until I managed to wiggle myself back in. I never ran into a glitch that caused me to restart the application, but I did waste several minutes due to the collision detection being poorly done. There is also an issue where the game will repeat lines of dialogue twice when I was quickly skipping through it. This happened very often and defeated my entire purpose of trying to speed through scenes I had already seen.
Alone With You provides an interesting ride for players, but doesn’t manage to fulfill its potential. The romantic side of the game feels underdeveloped, and I ran into bugs often enough to hamper my enjoyment. That said, it has an interesting enough story that is worth checking out and its shortcomings can’t undo a solid story that is told well.
Review code for Alone With You provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.