Richard and Alice

In all honesty, I’m not sure what to write about Richard and Alice. On one hand, I dig this game because it spins a compelling, complex yarn that you’ll want to see through to the end. On the other hand, I hate it because that yarn hits too close to home for my liking. As a seasoned writer and critic, I should be able to keep my personal biases and issues out of a professional review but, in this case, I cannot.

I’m human and things affect me. So it goes.

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Hmm, there’s a ladder in this church. I wonder if that’ll come in handy?

The story of Richard and Alice revolves around two prisoners and/or guinea pigs who are imprisoned neighboring cells in an underground facility, The Typhon Project, as the snowy, apocalyptic world above them slips further and further way from any semblance of civilization. Why the world above has become a frozen wasteland is only hinted at and is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. What is relevant is the relationship between the two prisoners, the eponymous Richard and Alice, who are both guarding some rather big secrets. One character’s terrible secret is revealed in gameplay flashbacks, if you will, and the other character’s is only revealed as the endgame plays out to its morbid, yet satisfying, conclusion. (As it turns out, there are three possible endings to the game. I happened to get the “special,” alternate ending…which is the most bleak of the three. Yay me. That’s what I get for being good at these types of games. )

In terms of gameplay and graphics, this experience is definitely kickin’ it old school. It’s a point-and-click puzzler with 16-bit era graphics. This is not a detriment in any way, it definitely works for Richard and Alice and, if anything, this style of game makes you focus more on the story, which is this title’s strongest element by far.

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There’s a metric fuckton of snow in Richard and Alice’s world.

The puzzles are logical and well thought out for the most part…nothing Myst or Riven-like here, thank Christ. There was only one puzzle near the end of the game that gave me any real trouble. But again, its solution is entirely realistic and had me smacking my head while saying, “Fucking duh. I should have thought of that sooner!”

The closest comparison I can make here, and you can take this as you will, is that Richard and Alice reminds me of the best film I saw that I will never watch again, Grave of the Fireflies. Grave of the Goddamn Fucking Asshole Fireflies, man. That movie stayed with me for some time, and not in a good way.  Watch it only if you enjoy getting repeatedly punched in the gut and revel in sadness and misery. But, it is a well-crafted, highly artistic film that I’d love to recommend…but I just can’t and I won’t.

That exact same sentiment goes for Richard and Alice as well; I’d like to recommend it…but I can’t and I won’t. So it goes, my friends, so it goes.

ImageRichard and Alice was developed by Owl Cave.

For $5.99, Richard and Alice will make you feel really real feels and nobody wants that, right? Go take a couple Zoloft, have a nice lie down and forget those bothersome feelings and emotions ever existed.

Richard and Alice is available on Good Old Games, Desura, and Indie City.

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