First I thought this was an RPG Maker game. It's nothing of the sort, so don't be mistaken due to the artstyle.
Owl Cave, the developing team, is clearly fond of old-school point n' click games, and this is exactly that! Honestly, there isn't much to it, as a game
, to make it stand out. It doesn't have any interesting mechanic, or anything of the sort. It's visual and audio design is also very minimal.
Where it shines, however, is in its story! I've taken a few points to write about, but it's mostly about how they could have made it more of a game, and also overcome the downsides of old point n' clicks, with their very sluggish movement, and some frustrating puzzle design.
This game avoids most of that, though, using the puzzles merely to get you more into the story. I will not, of course, review the story, and I'll avoid spoilers, but I'm very positive on it, overall.Presentation
This is, by far, the weakest aspect of the game!
I've seen some people disappointed, claiming it's "MSPaint Graphics". It's not that
bad, for sure. But you can definitely understand that reaction. It has a very low resolution, and also simple and outdated tile sets. The structures' perspective is also a bit off...
All in all, this is not something you'll play for sight-seeing in the least. However, it has just enough to carry the story, and giving each scene the right atmosphere, in this barren and anarchic
Unfortunately, it's very static, which is okay, but I would have liked it not to have been in one particular aspect: the character portraits
. They're always the same! I realize that it was perhaps more work than it warranted, but it was a chance to add a lot of personality into the game, as I see it. Just having the portraits be in sync with their tone. Heh, it's not very important, but could have been better.
seems to be equally as low-fi, strangely enough. It's not 8 or 16 bit or anything like that, but it somehow feels... old? It's strange to describe it. But it's mostly ambience music and sound effects, complementing the visuals to set the stage for the dialog. I found it surprisingly fitting in the game.
Everything loops well and nothing felt out of place.
There is no voice-acting.
I appreciated the writting
quite a lot! You can understand the tone in each character's line, and the dialogue options that they give you are always legitimate. I'll talk about this further ahead, but there are a few choices that will affect the endings, although you may not initially realize it. General Structure
There are 2 main characters in Richard & Alice, unsurprisingly. You're both in a prison, and all you can do is talk to each other, in separated cells. Mostly,it's about you, Richard, listening to Alice's story, about how she got there.
The game alternates between the characters. The smallest chunk of the game is in the cells, where you play as Richard, speak to Alice, and solve some very minor puzzles. It also helps you understand the world around you a bit more.
The biggest chunk, is where you play as Alice and her son, Barney, following how she was "arrested".
The prison sections are mostly there to break up the pacing, which is surprisingly good! The game never felt tiresome or to drag on as a result.Puzzles and Gameplay
The first thing you'll notice, is how sluggish the movement is. You shouldn't be unfamiliar with it, if you're used to point n' click games... it's always their sore spot!
This game is just the same. It's a bit awkward to move, and even to pick things up. You left click to use
and right click to inspect
. And that's basically all you need to know.
You can also advanced dialogue by clicking, skipping to the next line. There's a way to skip a scene entirely (scenes which you do not control) by holding SpaceBar -- This is never explained in the game...
You can always Save/Load at any time, which is great! There are a couple of bugs, sometimes, which can easily be fixed by simply reloading, without losing any progress.
There isn't much to the puzzles
, honestly. It's mostly about exploring the scenes, collecting items, and then using them in the right place, or combining them. It's very standard in the genre. There isn't any pixel-hunting, and you'll generally be able to solve them rather quickly.
of the game, the areas are also fairly small, so every solution to a give puzzle is nearby, avoiding the slow walking that usually comes with these puzzles.
Unfortunately, there are 2 (maybe) scenes that have 3 areas you can visit and in those, you'll have to
walk back and forth, very slowly, until you find the right items. That was a bit frustrating to me, as are most of point n' click games, but it was nothing unbearable. Honestly, they've avoided most of it, so that's good! It will not get in the way of the story.
Well... I think that covers it. As I can't review the story, it's hard to tell you what this game does right. The game itself is serviceable, but the way it paces the story, and gives you some
freedom within it is where it shines. This is definitely not something you'll play for the puzzles or mechanics. If you enjoyed To the Moon, Primordia, Home, etc. I think you'll definitely appreciate this.
The story is quite mature, and the world has gone to hell, but the story it tells is credible, and there are certainly many aspects with which the player can identify with. Some people found it depressing, which is understandable, so know what you're getting into. I don't think it's anything shocking, but it's definitely not a light-hearted and happy story. It's a lot about what people would do if faced with risk of survival
. It's not
about zombies, or nuclear war. In fact, the setting is never explained, as it's there as a mere symbol/concept. And that's all I'll say about it.
The issue I've had with the puzzles
was simply the fact that you can easily miss a very specific item, for an ambiguous purpose. What I mean by that is that several other items in your inventory could provide you with the exact same utility – but of course, the game doesn't aknowledge that, and will leave you walking in circles, re-inspecting everything. That's not something I like, of course, but changing that would probably require a whole re-design of how puzzles are done in the genre, which is far outside the scope of the review. One last thing.How choice is handled in the different endings
From what I understand, the most important choices, are the ones you make when talking to Barney. These are usually question about the state of the world that you, as a player, may not know about. It's interesting, really. It's an uninformed decision, yet, it's a valid one, since you're basically telling your son how the world is, and sometimes how people interact. And how you choose to show him, is how the ending will be presented, in a way.
The ending is based both on deduction done with the clues you've found (depending on the notes you find, your actions in the end may change, thus changing the ending), and also based on how you chose to see
All in all, it will be very fitting to you, personally, and how you've played the game, it's very good!
The downside to it, is that getting several endings may be a bit laborious (since you'll have to replay big portions of the game that doesn't change much, expect for the ending), and also that the forum discussion will not be as interesting.
Take Home, for instance. That game's discussion were based on what actually happened in the game, not just the ending. And it was great! Since in this game they're mostly about its conclusion, discussion will not be as nice.
To be honest, I think it's good news, if such an issue is what I throw at your game, haha!
I enjoyed it a whole lot!