The Rivers of Alice was released on November 16th, 2015. It’s currently available for $7.99 on the Steam Marketplace. This game was developed by Delirium Studios and Published by Merge Games. Visit their website here.
The Rivers of Alice is a classic-style point-and-click adventure game. This game features hand-drawn graphical artwork and an originally composed soundtrack by Vetusta Morla. The player must control Alice as she steps into a dream world and faces her fears in the forms of Sloth, Envy, and Dishonesty. Each new screen the player stumbles upon has new characters and new puzzles to experience. Throughout this adventure, the player is tasked with collecting four fireflies that Alice must collect.
What’s Good About This Game?
The game is beautiful. Both aurally and visually, The Rivers of Alice is stunning. The look of the game is very reminiscent of Broken Age, with a hint of Don’t Starve. The world is very colorful, with the exception of Alice herself. This may be a symbolic gesture to the idea of Alice being the only real, tangible thing in a dream world. Along with the hand drawn graphics, the musical group Vetusta Morla provided an original soundtrack specifically for this game. That’s not very common in video games and really adds to the immersive aspect.
Instead of dialogue, The Rivers of Alice uses pictograms, or pictures, to illustrate conversations. This was an interesting choice for the developers to include. The pictograms add some mystery and uncertainty to the dialogue, which is more or less the only clue that the player has to work with when deciphering puzzles. The player is allowed to review all conversations that have happened anywhere, at any time, in their journal.
While this game is mostly from the standard point-and-click camera angle (2D, ground level, profile view), there is the occasional, unique animation that occurs. These animations are always unexpected, and even more visually-pleasing than the original view. Don’t misunderstand; the unordinary animations aren’t the only unexpected things in this game. Every new scene the player will stumble across is also unexpected. The characters and environment of each scene are almost completely random. It’s as if the idea for each scene was literally “dreamed up” and then written down. It’s amusing to say the least.
What’s Bad About This Game?
This issue must be addressed first and foremost. The puzzles in this game began as innocent and logical puzzles where the player must scavenge for necessary items, decipher conversation they have with other characters, and interact with their environment. The beginning puzzles were moderately easy and scaled in difficulty accordingly. However, as the game progressed, something happened to the puzzles. It’s almost as if the developers got somewhat lazy towards the end of the game and began to run out of ideas. A lot of the puzzles sort of looked alike and were enormously frustrating.
The first puzzle to portray this transition was the wire puzzle in the apartment building. The player has to move tiles around (similar to a one-sided Rubik’s Cube) until the correct formation occurred. This puzzle was unlike any of the other before it. It did not involve much logical involvement, but instead involved a sort of mathematical calculation. People do not play video games to be presented with mathematical calculations. It was a different kind of puzzle.
Once this puzzle was passed, the “math puzzles” die down for a moment. This style of puzzle does not go away, however. It is seen again and again later on with puzzle such as the bird puzzle on the roof of the castle, and also the end puzzle with the rotating stone slabs. Where did the logical puzzles go? The beginning of this game promised a Sherlock Holmes style adventure, and instead delivered the same maddening sliding tile style of puzzle. This was disappointing. There were a lot of great and rewarding puzzles, but the developers couldn’t seem to keep them up until the end.
Alongside the issues with the puzzles, there were also a few graphical errors. These weren’t game-breaking or very frequent, but they still rip the player out of their immersive experience momentarily. Alice would either become duplicated every so often, walk towards random points in the room for no real reason when assigned a task somewhere else, or even completely vanish.
A lot of issues were found with The Rivers of Alice, but all of the wonderful aspects of the game seemed to out shine them from time to time. I cannot simply give it one overall score because that would be doing the developers injustice. It’s obvious they put a lot of time into the game and they deserve praise for that. This game was meant to be played casually, and also somewhat as a mobile game. With that being said, I can’t be too harsh with the rating:
Game Graphics & Design: 8/10
Soundtrack & FX: 9/10
Game Stability (Bugs): 7/10
Puzzles & Gameplay: 6/10
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