Created by Benjamin Rivers (the developer behind the 2D horror title Home), Alone With You is a narrative-driven sci-fi game that promises players adventure, exploration and even a little romance.
Alone With You has an interesting premise. You take control of a doomed colony's last survivor who must flee before the planet implodes around him. There's an escape ship in the hangar, but it isn't capable of flight. To fix it, you're going to need the help of some rather unique companions: the colony's AI and the holograms of four of its former crew members. Each of them has a special area of expertise to aid the ship's repair and it's your job to bring them the data they need from various locations around the colony. But your meetings aren't just about business. You'll also get to know your companions on a personal level and, based on your interactions, potentially form relationships.
If you're looking for a game full of action and excitement, this isn't the one for you. Alone With You is slow-paced and dialogue-heavy, both to its credit and its detriment. Let's talk about the good stuff first. The upside of having so much text in the game is that the main characters are well fleshed out. This includes the AI who will frequently talk to you as you go about your missions. You're given many opportunities to chat with the holograms and there's a good deal of variation between each character's personality. After completing a set number of missions, you're able to visit a hologram of your choice to talk about more intimate matters. As well as allowing you to form stronger bonds with the characters, these conversations can also affect the outcome of the narrative. Alone With You has multiple endings and there's a lot of replay value if you want to see every scenario.
Other well done aspects are the visuals and soundtrack. Alone With You manages to create a believable and varied world despite its reliance on pixelated graphics. Different locations are adequately diverse in colour palette and design, giving them distinct personalities. The music is also a highlight as its atmospheric and mournful tone always fits your surroundings perfectly.
OK, now for the bad. The main problem with Alone With You is that its actual gameplay quickly becomes rather dull and repetitive. The game is split into three weeks. On each day, you're able to visit another location in the colony. Unfortunately, all of these expeditions are extremely similar. You wake up in your quarters each morning, go to the AI's core room, talk with it, go out to the location, scan various objects, hear the AI comment on them, figure out how to open a door or two, and come back. Then in the evening, you talk with one of the holograms. The next day, you get up and do the same thing. There's very little changeup in the gameplay and after a few days of scanning and talking, scanning and talking, scanning and talking, you'll just want it to be over.
Things could have been kept a little more interesting if there were some actual challenge in Alone With You. As it is, you're usually told exactly where to go by the omnipresent AI. The only times you're likely to get stuck are when you've missed an object that you were supposed to scan or a doorway that you didn't realise was there. The only puzzles consist of figuring out key codes for doors, but these hardly ever demand much brainpower as the answer is usually lying around in a nearby data log. The only exception was one of the later puzzles which required me to take notes and go over certain areas several times in order to figure out the correct sequence to input. More head-scratchers like that earlier on in the story would have made progression feel more satisfying.
Instead, the gameplay largely consists of making sure you comb every section of each room to be sure you've scanned everything in it. While some objects will help further your mission, many are pretty superfluous. Having to stop and scan them then wait for the AI to comment on every single one makes the flow of the game very stop-start. One of the most tiresome sections of each day is the routine you have to go through before you're allowed to talk to one of the holograms. After reporting your findings to the AI, you have to walk all the way to your quarters, go to bed, get woken up again, then walk back to the holo-sim room. It feels like there's no point to this other than to stretch the game length out. Furthermore, it has a knock-on effect of severely reducing your tolerance for the longwinded conversations that follow, especially as most of your dialogue choices don't seem to have much impact on the story.
It's a shame that more of an effort wasn't put in to enliven Alone With You's gameplay. It boasts an interesting backdrop and story, but it's constantly hampered by the fact that it's just so tedious to play.
- + Well-crafted and varied characters and locations with distinct personalities
- + Fittingly emotive sci-fi soundtrack
- + Multiple story outcomes add replay value
- - Practically no challenge in the gameplay
- - Very repetitive and tedious
- - Dialogue can drag on too long