I was watching the above demo of 'I am alive' (it's in the first four minutes) and here's a thing: Although it was a demo, it has you climbing and using up your stamina bar.
But really all those climbs are set pieces - the designers and playtesters have played through that and know the exact amount of stamina that will be lost.
It's not like in, say, nethack, where a particular area of dungeon is randomised and you know part of the random elements and so can strategize, in such a case the randomisation might very well mean its not survivable. Or it is, but maybe your strategy wont be good enough?
Here, if I'm understanding it, its a fixed, predecided climb with no strategic element (you just push in the right direction). Well, apart from hitting the extra effort button furiously.
Though I guess you have to see the right direction coming in time. Maybe when you play, especially for the first time, it's hard to know those right directions to climb and that's the uncertainty point that gives game?
Or the raw illusion of doing it all then badum, badum your stamina meter is down and OMG quick bash that button and...
Except it isn't a tension moment where things are going wrong. The designer set it to be that way.
Well, it was the tutorial level and also maybe the combats the real dealio, eh?