Friday, 3 January 2014

Alice Mare

Gamespot Score: N/A

My Score: 7.5

(+) Pros: - Beautiful art style and direction, - Fully fleshed out characters that you can sympathize with, - Problem solving segments done well, variety of area's to visit, - Multitude of endings, - Easter eggs and tiny secrets found throughout the game that can help flesh out the story further.

(-) Cons: - Story is a little bit underwhelming if you don't discover everything, - Nothing too particularly difficult or out of the ordinary, - True ending leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Gameplay time: About 4 hours (to see everything)

I love me my pixel horror RPGs, and I've gotten all of them from vgperson. I'll say this as many times as I need to, she's awesome at what she does, and I'll eagerly wait upon every game she wants to release. Anyway,  "Alice Mare" was one of those games she did...but she didn't label it under horror. I got into it anyway, since it looked very much like one. From screenshots, I loved how it looked, and it was easily one of the nicer looking pixel RPG maker me anyways ("Witch's House" will always be the most beautiful in this aspect). So I played it, enjoyed it, then the 1.05 update came up, I played through the whole game again, I enjoyed it again, and here I am. If you like your dose of pixel horror RPG maker games, "Alice Mare" isn't so different. It may not provide as many scares, but it sure is creepy as hell at times.

You play as as young boy named Allen (not Allen Walker, unfortunately), whom is suffering from a horrible case of amnesia. He knows nothing about himself and is taken in by a young man who is in charge of an orphanage, which already has some kids living in there. He introduces himself as teacher, and Allen was to stay in that orphanage with the rest of the kids. Things seem fine for a first day, but the kids warn Allen not to go up to the second floor. Allen, being the protagonist, needs to f**k something up, so he hears a voice coming up from the second floor. He goes up only to find a struggling butterfly in a casing. He gets caught by teacher and gets sent back to his room. The following day, he finds out that he is stuck in a dream, and realizes that the denizens of his dream call him Alice. He cannot leave the dream, and must find 5 keys to fix the world. In his dream he finds his friends at the orphanage too...what could this mean?

The answer is always no, if you want to live.

I don't know about you, but "Alice Mare" is one of the more beautiful looking RPG maker games, right behind "Witch's House". The character designs are pretty okay, but character models that appear when they talk look so effin adorable (see above image)! Every character has such a sprite/model, all of them look fabulous...I'd make bookmarks out of those if I could, and I don't even read books. The over-world itself feels as 16 bit as you can ask for. Its good enough, I'd say. Some of the areas look flat out weird, but otherwise, it's well polished.

"Alice Mare" is about traversing the dream world and discovering the life stories of all of Allen's friends. In this retrospect, the game does really well. You will be traveling to different pasts of the different kids and learn more about them, solving puzzles grants you pages of their life, which will be fit into a notebook later on. The game will showcase each page to you and an image along with it, reliving the life of the characters during the past. It's a well thought of sequence that ends up being creepy or disturbing in more ways than one, showing you how f**ked up these kids lived their lives.

That's not very nice.

Game sequence in "Alice Mare" is the same as every RPG maker game up to date, you solve puzzles, move on to the next person's dream, solve more problems and puzzles, then move on, rinse and repeat until the end. While there aren't any difficult puzzles in this game per se, the problems are really well done and relate to the person's whose dream you are in. That, and the variety of areas that you get to visit...each kid has an area in their dream land that relates to their life in the past. You get to visit a forest...a manor...a on and so forth. And the puzzles in those areas are a great fit for both the area itself and the person dreaming it.

"Alice Mare" has a lot of endings...which, to its merit, is one of its stronger points. Lately all the pixel horror RPGs that I've played only have a handful of endings...if I'm not wrong "Alice Mare" has 9. Of course, most of them are bad/f**ked up, but most of these endings open up a different side of the story that you can normally not see...and these all add up to the big picture. To make things better, you can access 4 of these endings rather early in the game once you solve their character specific worlds. To further add on to the story, there are easter eggs/small tips you can look for that open up MORE of the story or explain stuff that was never properly explained....The extra scene in 1.05 really helped out.

Yep, he's weird all right.

The cons are pretty simple to point out, especially for those of you that only finished the game a couple of times to get the best ending. A lot of the story isn't fleshed out if you don't look at the other endings/examine every f**king thing in the game...and even then the true "best" ending leaves quite a bit to be desired. WE STILL DON'T KNOW A LOT OF SHIT ABOUT TEACH! That and the problems in this game...aren't too hard to solve. Most of them are rather easy and you won't need to think too hard to get through them (Stella's level was a disappointment).

So that's "Alice Mare". There's another one for the pixel horror RPG family...and as usual, I'd like to play more when they are made available for the English speaking audience. Until vgperson translates another horror game, I'll wait patiently, because these are as good as they come. For the mean time, "Alice Mare" is a pretty good distraction with its plentiful of interesting characters.

Happy gaming.