Fantastic visual novel puts you firmly in control as you attempt to work out a culprit’s identity.
Some gamers like to lose themselves in online worlds, using the opportunity to take on any personality they choose and building up virtual relationships with other players. For RE: Alistair++'s protagonist Merui, her virtual life and real life are clashing in ways she'd rather they did not.
RE: Alistair++ is a hefty interactive story, full of different options and paths that will keep you coming back for more even when the credits have rolled for the third time. This is definitely one of the best visual novels that I have played in recent years.
Merui Lucas - or RuioftheSword, as she is known online - is playing her favourite multiplayer game, Rivenwell Online, when another player named Alistair steals a rare item from right under her nose. Determined to have her revenge, she soon discovers that her rival goes to the very same school as her in real life.
Unfortunately, before working out exactly who he is, Alistair discovers her identity first, and begins taunting her with his newfound knowledge. In a temper, Merui then makes a bet with her unknown assailant - if she can work out who he is within 30 days time, he must give her the prized weapon back.
Having whittled down the prime suspects to three boys at school, your job is to build up a friendship with each in the hope that the culprit accidentally lets slip his secret identity.
The storyline is extremely inventive - rarely do we see the game-in-a-game concept taken to such great lengths, and the whole idea really shines through. It also outlines the perils players can face when becoming a little too addicted to online gaming. While graphically it's a gorgeous affair, there's no denying that there's a rather sinister feeling throughout.
In building up profiles on each suspect, there are a plethora of different options and paths that the player can take. New sets of dialogue and special scenes can be found depending on who you spend time with and what you say to them. It's possible to concentrate solely on one character for an entire playthrough, completely missing two other whole storylines.
This is the beauty of RE: Alistair++ - even after a few sessions, you will not have seen everything on offer. The decisions you make greatly affect the final outcomes (there are five different endings to find in total), and it's great fun finding all the unique paths. A handy section available from the main menu allows you to see which special scenes you've uncovered.
Apart from chatting and hanging out with the guys, you'll also need to balance the rest of your life too. Each day you're given the option to study, procrastinate by watching TV or surfing the web, earn money or go shopping. Each act adds to your stats, which inevitably determine which boy will find you the most interesting. Again, the element of choice really adds to the whole experience.
Of course, when choice is involved, it must be constantly backed up with outcomes. Sometimes a fair few days can go by in which you're simply selecting options and nothing substantial happens as a result. These days can be used to bulk up the statistics needed for story progression, but it's still a stark contrast with the days on which lots of stuff is going on.
RE: Alistair++ is an incredible addition to the visual novel genre, indulging the player in some top quality storytelling and pleasing art. It's also completely free to download, so if interactive stories aren't normally your cup of tea, it's still worth checking this particular title out.
- Beautiful anime art. Great storyline. Lots of different options and paths to find.
- Sometimes nothing will happen for a while. Can be difficult to find the last few sets of dialogue.