The best works of Science Fiction are far reaching and explore the global and personal costs of a global catastrophe, alien attack or any other subject that falls under this genre. It This doesn’t just happen in books, but video games as well.

Richard and Alice, a game developed by Ashton Raze and Lewis Denby at Owl Cave Games, is a work of science fiction that explores its subject with a visceral and human touch. It explores a world beset by a relentless onslaught of snow. It’s an apocalypse wrought by an endless winter that wears society down to its nubs. Richard and Alice are part of the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your perspective) to survive.  the characters used to reveal the consequences of this global catastrophe.

This game is a masterful bit of storytelling that starts out innocently enough. Both characters are stuck in an underground prison that is far removed from a world descending into chaos, but the tale of how they got there is a heart wrenching and emotional experience. Richard and Alice occupy cells across from each other and get to talking. It becomes evident that both have something to hide with Alice reluctant to divulge the crimes that landed her there. Her story becomes the focal point of this game

The game took care in establishing character through dialogue and action.This patient approach gave Richard and Alice appropriate depth and emotional weight. When Richard wanted to show Alice what his family looked like, he devised a way to ferry a photograph between the cells to her. Alice does not tell her story all at once, opting to reveal her past in fits and starts to Richard. The game took great care to show the small moments and when it came time for the tough, emotional choices they held significance born out of character and not simply because plot demanded it.

 

Richard and Alice 2

While the story is narrowly focused on two characters, the game does well to tie them into much broader themes. It also does well to uncover the true costs of a global catastrophe, revealing the way society breaks down as resources become scarce, how humanity takes a back seat for the sake of survival and how easily life can change when it just won’t stop snowing.

This game did well to tell a story that sucked me in, but there were moments that took me out of it. Richard and Alice is a point-and-click adventure game in a traditional sense eschewing many of the elements popularized by Telltale games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us titles. There are no quicktime events, time sensitive dialogue trees or anything else associated with more modern takes on this genre. The clinical description of gameplay is that it’s mostly fetching items and combining them in order to solve puzzles, but all of it made perfect sense when taken in context. The only issue is that pacing slowed down in certain sections. Puzzles worked best in the prison where half the game took place because it was a small and contained space, but really dragged during open area sections. When the game opened up, the characters’ slow speeds and the size of the gaps between buildings made fetching items and exploring a slog.

While the game is done in a simple 16-bit style, graphics do not take away from the emotional impact of anything that happens. In fact, the environments serve their purpose in highlighting a world that is vast, desolate and very white. The sparse backgrounds are complemented by a minimalist soundtrack that is interspersed with the sound effects. The music is subtle, yet adds weight to the emotional moments.

I’m a huge fan of science fiction with a bevy of movies, books and games in the genre and Richard and Alice is up there with the best of them. There are so many titles in my library at paint a fantastic world and explore a cool story, yet fail to deliver a compelling or interesting characters. Richard and Alice for delivering on both accounts with subtlety and and depth that had me viewing the world and myself a bit differently after finishing it.

Review: Richard and Alice
Pros
  • Compelling characters
  • Interesting premise
  • Well told story
Cons
  • Puzzles dragged at times
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
9.8

About The Author

Managing Editor

Jose is a straight shooter who always goes the paragon route. He joined the team at Indie Haven to spread the word about indie games all across the galaxy. When not aboard the Normandy, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area playing video games and plotting ways to rid the world of games like Colonial Marines.

  • http://tannerreviews.blogspot.com/ Tanner Chaney

    Well written review, very interesting concept. Endless snow is such a new idea. Just a heads up: in the second sentence in the last paragraph “at paint” should be “that paint” I believe.