LEFT ALIVE Mech Edition Review [PS4]

Game Summary / Background

Set in the world of Front Mission, Left Alive puts you in the perspectives of several survivors hiding behind enemy troops and mechs while trying to get out of a war-torn country.

While most of the Front Mission games focus on the mech vs mech strategy component, Left Alive felt more like a MGS stealth game that lacked a lot of vital stealth features. If you are a die-hard fan of the Front Mission universe then you might be able to stomach the game long enough to complete one or two complete runs. 

Review Contents

I had purchased the PS4 Mech Edition of the game from the US Square Enix store. It includes the game, a Day-one DLC, hardcover artbook, the Volks Wanzer model, and a few other bonus materials. 


The main reason why I purchased this game was due to being a long-time fan of the Front Mission Series. I played Front Mission 3 for the first time back during its EN release in the late 90s and just fell in love with the franchise and the whole tactical Mech RPG idea. 

The secondary reason why I wanted to buy this game, specifically the Mech Edition, was to get the Artbook and the Volks Wanzer model. Ever since Zone of Enders, I’ve been following Yoji Shinkawa’s mech designs as I really like his aesthetic. It was also timely that Square Enix released certain Wanzer model figures from Front Mission 1 a few months back and the Volks would be a welcome addition to my Front Mission collection.

I actually didn’t bother reading any of the post-release reviews of the game before purchasing it as I would have gotten it for the above reasons regardless how the gameplay was. 


This review will contain content from within the game such as certain events, images, and key characters. 
Proceed with this review knowing you’ll see some stuff that can ruin the story and/or gameplay. 

Game Review


Set in year 2127, you find yourself caught in a war in Novo Slava where you play 3 different characters all trying to escape the country while it is being invaded by enemy troops. 

You slowly discover that there is more to this invasion than what it seems and you slowly unravel the true purpose of this war. 

There is a total of 14 gameplay chapters. Each chapter is played with 1 out of 3 characters depending on the chapter’s story. Some stages will have you slip through enemy troops on foot but certain stages will have you pilot wanzers to meet certain objectives. You are also given the choice to save civilians along the way.

Playable Characters

You will have 3 protagonist characters to play but which one will depend on the chapter you’re playing.
Sadly, you cannot swap characters while playing a chapter. 

*images taken from the in-game database

Mikhail Shuvalov

An army Wanzer pilot whose unit gets obliterated at the start of the conflict and is left by himself to try and get out of the country. 

His initial purpose for joining was just to pilot Wanzers. 

Olga Kalinina

A police officer investigating a missing persons case when she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a war.

She used to be ex-military but lost her daughter in a conflict hence why she quit and became a police officer. 

Leonid Osterman

Originally a mercenary, he  joins the rebel movement that hires him which eventually  gains Novo Slava’s freedom.  Right before that happens though, their leader gets assassinated and he gets framed for the murder.

He was supposedly executed but has been rotting in jail all this time and escapes when war breaks out. 

On character development

As you go through the chapters, you learn more and more about your main protagonists and have some sort of character development / maturing that happens to them. Sadly though, the game doesn’t seem long enough to really give the characters a chance to fully mature and end up feeling too rushed / shallow. 

On voice acting (for US ENGLISH version anyway)

There is no option to have original Japanese audio with English subtitles. The weird part is that this is set in future Ukraine area as pointed out by some Reddit users but the English voice acting has barely any or no trace of that accent. The French guy does have an English-France accent and so does the Australian. 

WAPs / Wanzers

*images and descriptions taken from the in-game database


A new Wanzer model built in secret using the plans stolen from the U.C.S. 

Its basic configuration is built upon the MULS-PA standard, though its interchangeable armor and other functions that set it apart from every other Wanzer on Earth means it was probably an experimental unit meant to be used with the next-gen standard. 

The U.C.S. American army realized the theft of the plans early on, though the upper echelons concealed the fact out of fear they would be forced to take responsibility for the loss of such top secret information. 

Zenith HW2

A Wanzer manufactured by Jade Metal-Lyman based on the MULS-PA standard, with an enhanced roller dash. 

This is the second unit in the HW Series, a series designed with an eye towards international criterion. It’s claimed that this mech’s only flaw is it has no flaws. 

This unit is widely adored by soldiers in armies around the world and veteran mercenaries alike. 

Zhelanie P3

A Wanzer made by Demitri.

This mech was one of the first to employ the MULS-PA standard, and has been greatly deployed in Zaftra and its neighboring countries. 

The top of its body has been flattened to allow for a variety of practical uses, such as allowing accompanying soldiers to ride on top. Among other ambitious design features, modifications to its legs have shortened the unit and decreased its frontal projection. 


A custom Wanzer made in secret by the Zaftra Army. It is only deployed experimentally for certain special forces. 

Envisioned as a hybrid between a giant mobile unit and a Wanzer, it is assumed variations of the same standard also exist, since its units are interchangeable despite its enormous size.

Equipped with dedicated weaponry for all distances, it is theorized just one of these mechs can stand its own against multiple Wanzers. 

Glossary of WANZER Terms (Taken from the in-game Encyclopedia)

The general term for humanoid mobile units that follow the globalb MULS-P standard. Also referred to as WAPs, an abbreviation of “Wanderpanzer.”

Their parts and armaments have all been standardized, making them a highly practical, highly flexible weapon.

The common standard Wanzers follow. Stands for “Multi-unit Link System – Panzer.”

The next-generation standard being developed as MULS-P’s replacement. Stands for “Multi-unit Link System – Panzer 2.” Both an important security issue and something that will have a great impact on industry, the new standard developed into a pressing political problem and was delayed significantly. 

MULS-P2 was released in 2121, but mechs that can actually implement this standard are so expensive that it will take even longer to be widely adopted. 

An improved version of the MULS-P standard that has been adopted as a stop-gap measure while the new standard is still heavily delayed. Stands for “Multi-unit Link System – Panzer Advanced.”

No more than a minor update to the current standard, almost nothing has been changed, except for enhancements to the leg engines in order to increase the mech’s maneuverability on land. 


This game was initially advertised as a stealth survival game that had a similar feel to MGS but upon release turned out to be a weird mix of action / mech / survival without being fully any of the 3. 

What I mean to say is while it does have a survival feel to it, there is no stealth kill (there’s no combat knife in this game and no silencers) which makes actual stealthing weird. Oh and your AI that helps you stealth around is constantly telling you “CAUTION: THE ENEMY IS APPROACHING” even if you’re the one approaching the enemy (T_T). 

What happens a lot when I sneak around a group of enemies is take out one, hide while everyone else is alerted (even the tanks and Wanzers), wait for them to go back to normal (like someone didn’t just die), and rinse and repeat until I clear an area. 

As for the action component, aiming (on the PS4 anyway) feels really wonky and clunky. Aiming your weapons is really hard and you often have to waste an entire clip to kill one enemy with AR / SMGs. Shotguns work nicely for your first playthrough but bullets are really limited. There’s an option to switch aim from the left to right side (your character will be on the left / right side of the screen) but I didn’t find that helpful at all. You can hide behind cover, shoot while peeking out of cover, but with the poor aiming and the AI’s really good aiming, you get shredded anyway. 

Also, there are some cases where the AI just completely weirds out on you. Enemies can just pop out of nowhere or run completely away. 

Wanzer Combat

For the mech combat, same with the action part, dealing damage and surviving with your mech is really difficult. It takes some practice to learn how to efficiently destroy enemy wanzers without taking so much damage (there is no repair in this game).

The mech combat just feels so sluggish if you’re comparing it to popular mecha games in this age of gaming but this could be a design decision as the world of Front Mission has never been about fast combat. I didn’t play Front Mission Evolved which is the only other non-turn based FM game out there? Watching its gameplay videos though, the combat and controls seem to be much faster. Wanzer fights here feel like you’re controlling tanks on legs. 

Weapons also overheat so you cannot just hold down the trigger. This is particularly painful for automatic weapons but apply to pretty much all weapons (rockets, missiles, railguns, pile drivers). Think of this as a forced downtime for the weapons. Upside is enemy Wanzers are also affected by this so you can wait for them to stop shooting, peek out, shoot, and go back to hiding behind cover. 

Enemy Wanzers can drop their weapons but I think what they drop is fixed based on which Wanzer you fight. If you pick those up, you drop what your Wanzer is currently equipping so you can swap weapons around. 

If you unequip shoulder weapons, they are gone for good. You also cannot eject enemy pilots out of their Wanzers (boo!). 

My personal experience with my 1st playthrough on Standard difficulty was that I died a lot and had to rethink how I approached a certain group of enemies / scenario. Sometimes I’d have to backtrack on a save file (you have to save progress at specific save points) just to setup a bunch of explosive traps that enemies will pass through based on a script. At some point, I just got used to seeing how the AI was scripted into acting, dying intentionally and reloading my file for a better run (using less ammo, traps, having more life). 

Collectibles (Archives)

Similar to how the previous Front Mission games did it, you can find certain Articles scattered per chapter that tell you more about certain persons, organizations, events, etc. in the setting of the game and Front Mission universe. 

This was one of the things I hunted down and tried my best to complete as I wanted to read up on what had happened on certain factions inside the FM universe. For each item you get, you also get a piece of information such as the manufacturer and sometimes even the political power it belonged to. It was nice to see certain Front Mission organizations like Jade Metal-Lyman (makers of the Zenith Wanzer), the U.C.S., and the O.C.U. making returns even if just via brief mentions. 

Tip: If you want to screenshot these archive entries, you can do it from the Title Screen > Database 


A lot of reviewers actually found the graphics for the game quite bad but I didn’t mind so much. Honestly, I was just happy to see the textures on the Wanzers be really good. I didn’t really expect the game to be “WOAH SUPER 4K TEXTURES” or anything with Skyrim level texture and lighting mods applied to it. 

Obviously though, this isn’t one of its key selling points. It has average graphics in this game and age of PS4 games. Animations can get a little weird at times and the cutscenes use in-game assets with weird lip syncing as its synced to the Japanese voice acting. 

Artbook REVIEW

One of the main reasons I got this in the Mech Edition, the Hardback 80-page artbook features a quite a bit of concept art for the game. 

People who worked on the game as listed in the back of the artbook

Shinji Hashimoto (Producer, also for various Front Mission titles and Various FF titles)
Toshifumi Nabeshima (Director, also director for numerous Armored Core games)

Yoji Shinkawa (ZOE, Metal Gear, Death Stranding)
Takayuki Yanase (Armored Core II, Murakamo, Xenogears X, Gundam 00)
Yuya Ishihata (concept art and illustrator for MGS since 2010)

Character Art:
Yoji Shinkawa
Yuya Ishihata
Yohei Kikuchi
Skan Srisuwan (Studio Hive Co., LTD.)

WAP (Wanzers):
Yoji Shinkawa 
Takayuki Yanase

Yuya Ishihata
Tanapon Wachirakul 

Concept Art:
Yuya Ishihata
Yobo Kuwabara (ILINX, Inc.)


This is actually my 2nd artbook of a video game with Yoji Shinkawa in it (first was the CE of the first ZOE game for the PS2) so I had some point of comparison.

The good part is that around 95% of the material you see in game is represented in this artbook. The only thing I couldn’t find was actually one of the boss Wanzers you fight but it’s essentially just a recolor of the final boss Wanzer. 

If  you were looking for some details regarding the character / Wanzer / Weapon / Vehicle design then this book basically does that. Not as comprehensive as I would have wanted though. 


The sad thing about this artbook is the lack of information and detailed descriptions about the artwork.

There are certain labels for some artworks like the Wanzers and the characters but the other materials like weapons and certain background vehicles were left unlabeled. You’d actually have to cross-reference them off the in-game Encyclopedia / Archive to know what their names and serial codes are. 

The Wanzers (WAPs) also only get 4 pages each (Volk, Zenith HW2, Zhelanie P3, Svarog = 16 pages total) with the first 2 pages doing an overview illustration and 2 more pages for detailed drawings. I kinda expected more detailed illustrations like internal mechanisms or other concept art, especially for the Volk at least, but all it had were pretty basic illustrations. 

There were also no separate illustrations for the decals and other detail elements. 



U.C.S. (Stolen by Zaftra)

(1) Metel – Machine gun
(1) Aysberg  – Shield
(1) Sosul’ka – Missile Launcher
(1) Zal – Railgun

A new Wanzer model built in secret using the plans stolen from the U.C.S. 

Its basic configuration is built upon the MULS-PA standard, thought its interchangeable armor and other functions that set it apart from every other Wanzer on Earth means it was probably an experimental unit meant to be used with the next-gen standard. 

The U.C.S. American army realized the theft of the plans early on, though the upper echelons concealed the fact out of fear they would be forced to take responsibility for the loss of such top secret information. 

Size & comparison to Wander Arts

Height (no weapons): Approx. 16cm
Width (no weapons): Approx 15.5cm

The Volk toy is roughly 20% bigger in scale compared to the Wander Arts Front Mission 1st toys. Actually happy that it is bigger than the Wander Arts as I found those really small.  

Sadly, the accessories are not compatible from the Volk to the Wander Arts ones due to the size difference. The good part is that the Volk’s construction material is overall better (hard plastic) than the Wander Arts which seems to be made with a softer rubber material. 


The Volk model is actually quite articulated, offering what you normally find with most mech action figures. Elbows are double jointed and the knees bend quite a good amount while retaining rigidity. The railgun attaches to either left or right shoulder attachment near the body while the missile launcher attaches to the outer shoulder attachments. 


  • 1x Metel Machine Gun
  • 1x Aysberg Shield
  • 1x Sosul’ka Missile Launcher
  • 1x Zal Railgun
  • 2 extra hands in open position
Overall Impressions on the VOLK figure

Most of the Volk figure is made up of hard plastic material. Only the hands are actually made up of a softer plastic as you’d need to stretch the fingers a bit to fit the handheld weapons into the grip.

The joints and points of articulation can get very hard to position. This is probably due to how this model was put together, which isn’t as good as compared to higher quality pre-assembled and painted toys like Bandai’s Metal Robot line.

I actually had some difficulty getting the railgun into firing position as the instructions were not too clear on how to position it and the image examples were too dark and too small to make out. 

The paint job is overall satisfactory from a distance. If you look really up close though, you will notice how certain paint, especially for the silver areas, don’t look as clean and polished as they could be. At the very least, the detail markings/decals are really cleanly applied.  

There are a few areas that are reinforced with a metal rod to avoid any breakage with the moving part. These are mostly visible in the shoulder railgun attachment and the side rollers. 

Speaking of the rollers, I was surprised that the wheels could actually be spinned. The wheels under the feet can also be spinned so that’s  nice note for realism. 

Misc. Items included with Mech Edition

Game Steelcase

Included in the Mech Edition is a special Steelcase for the game disc featuring the Volk (front and back). The artwork on it is made by Takayuki Yanase. 

Clear File

Oddly enough this was only supposed to be included for pre-orders but I guess since they still have stock (not enough people pre-ordered) then they’ll still include it. 

Survival Pack DLC

Just a few helpful items to help you through the game. The gun is probably your best item in here as it has better performance than the one you get in-game. 

Should you get Left Alive (Standard / Mech Edition)

Ok so I’ll be honest here. I bought the Mech Edition from the US SquareEnix Store at 160$ USD with +25$ roughly shipping, putting it close to 190$ total. 

The game is currently $59.99 USD both on Steam and the US SquareEnix store. That means all non-game included stuff (mech, artbook, steelcase, heck even the clear file) would be $100 USD (or $130 factoring shipping) which is not that bad IF you’re a huge fan of both Yoji Shinkawa’s artwork AND just love Front Mission.

In terms of the toy, this is probably one of the better Front Mission toys you’ll get even if it’s not the signature Zenith model. If I price the toy at 60$ (40$ for the Artbook + Steelcase), it’s definitely worth that price tag. For comparison, the Wander Arts Zenith and Frost models are going for $89.99 USD each. You add 10$ to that for a slightly bigger Front Mission Wanzer + an 80-page artbook by Yoji Shinkawa and that’s a pretty good deal.

Now the issue will be would you want to dish out an extra 60$ USD for a so-so game. You may or may not like it (I’m actually ok playing it but only for one full clear.. maybe 2?). 

So my verdict would be YES buy the Mech Edition if and only if you meet these some or all of these criteria:

  • You really love Yoji Shinkawa’s work
  • You really love mechs, specifically Front Mission Wanzers
  • You already collect some Front Mission Wanzer toys
  • You don’t mind sparing an extra $60 for a so-so game
  • You have a total of $190USD to buy the mech edition from the SE online store

If you’re not any of these then I highly suggest you to sadly skip this game and the Mech edition. I really hate to say it as I want to show SquareEnix some Front Mission love but the way they did this game just doesn’t do the franchise any service. 

The sad part about this game is that with a stellar staff behind it (a lot of MGS, Armored Core, Front Mission veterans), it felt really short of what it was expected to be. Part of this might have been the over projection of the market of what the game would have been but the production team had a different idea on what to deliver altogether. You can actually read what the game’s developers wanted to do and why certain things were done over in this article over at Dualshockers

I do hope this doesn’t discourage SquareEnix from producing a more Front Mission-esque tactical turn-based mecha game. Although, from the way they’ve been producing games lately, maybe the whole turn based tactical RPG isn’t that good of a sellable product with today’s gaming generation (RIP to the days of FFT, Front Mission). 

For those looking for something to fill the void though, these are some things worth reading up on. 

Kadokawa spinoff game with the Front Mission one guys making it. 

Indie game developing a Vietnam war period FM inspired mech turn based RPG game. 



One of my takeaways from this game is that I finally got to play a new game set in the Front Mission universe, even if it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. Seeing high-textured Wanzers on the PS4 was a good enough experience for me from this whole game. 

Having said that, the first time you get to ride a Zenith (Chapter 6) was when I figured I could make a LEGO version of the iconic Wanzer. I’ll probably stick to the HW2 model as I have the most access to it (even have a save file so I can study it a bit more in-game). I’ll be basing it mostly off the Mammoth build but obviously in Tan and with all the signature Zenith design queues (signature shoulder with white stripe, body build). 

I’m thinking of equipping it with a shotgun, the RFS-1 rifle, make both shoulder shields, and have alternate shoulder equipment (rocket launcher and gatling cannon).

reFRAME v3 Instruction Manual

The reFrame System is a modular brick skeleton aimed to help both new and veternan brick mech builders create their own designs in a consistent size with modular capabilities. It was originally designed to be a basis for all my mechs in the Mech Wars universe. Having gone through a number of upgrades, the V3 reFrame can now house a minifigure pilot in the chest without sacrificing aesthetic or articulation.

If you liked this article then you can help me out create more LEGO mech content by clicking the PayPal donate button below. Your monetary contribution, no matter how big or small, will definitely help me a lot in sustaining this passion 😀 

Donnate Button

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.