Front Mission was a series that was pretty popular in Japan and did ok in other territories. Left Alive is a third person spin off from the Front Mission series, it’s not a series I’m particularly familiar with so I’m hoping Left Alive will give me the encouragement to try it out.
Left Alive is based during the events of Front Mission 5 and Front Mission Evolved in 2127. The Republic of Rutheria is under attack from the Republic of Garmoniya as the Garmoniyans invade the city of Novo Slava. The Rutherian army unfortunately doesn’t put up much of a fight and has to fall back and retreat leaving the remains of the city to fend off the advancing forces. You take the role of three different characters as they try to make their way out of war-torn Novo Slava. You have Wanzer (large mech likes weapons) pilot Mikhail Shuvalov, police officer Olga Kalinina and escaped prisoner Leonid Osterman.
Front Mission has many mechs you can take control of but in Left Alive, you spend most of your time stealthily making your way through the environment. Left Alive does feel like a cross between Metal Gear Solid and even Hitman as the idea is that you need to get from A to B as quietly or efficiently (basically shooting) as you can because ammo and weaponry is scarce. The classic empty can are some of the things you can use to distract your enemies but that’s where comparisons to the fund and engaging series that is Metal Gear come to an unfortunate end. Left Alive is a stealth game at heart but the enemies difficulty range from being completely oblivious to where you are to being able to spot you behind a wall. If you are unfortunate enough to come across one of the Wanzers on your travels then you’ll be killed quickly and have to respawn from the last checkpoint which can be up to 10-15 minutes earlier which makes Left Alive a very ponderous game to play.
In Left Alive there are usual a few routes to through some of the open areas. If you are low on ammo then you choose a more stealthy route but if you happen on the rare occasion have a lot of ammo then you can choose to go in all guns blazing. There are opportunities to help some of the citizens you comes across. The choice is up to you though, as helping them will likely take up some of your valuable resources. In some cases if you successfully help one of them then you will receive a reward. Left Alive is meant partly to let you approach it using stealth mechanics but if you go up behind an enemy unless you have some kind of weapon there is no melee takedown which is quite stunning to see not be included. Combat in Left Alive is not very good, enemies getting hit by headshots don’t seem to go down quickly, the aiming system doesn’t feel fluid so you will find yourself firing at will just to hit something. The best part of Left Alive is when you manage to take control of a Wanzer but after a few minutes their super slow controls and weak arsenal become apparent.
Graphically Left Alive is pretty standard fare, nothing stands out in terms of design or presentation. The start of Left Alive actually sets a really good scene but once you get into the game proper you realise anything promised in the opening exchanges will not be delivered. Audio is reasonable, Left Alive is a city under fire and feels like it but the dialogue and weapon sounds are pretty average. There is probably 14-20 hours worth of gameplay over 14 chapters but it’s really not worth it.
Left Alive has some really good promising ideas including crafting and branching storylines but it fails on too many elements. The hit and miss AI and increasingly unfair difficulty make Left Alive a fairly unengrossing and unenjoyable experience which is a shame. There is a gap for another stealth series but Left Alive isn’t it.