Not your father's adventure game
There’s a really interesting blog post on the website for Richard & Alice, where the creators discuss what inspired them to make the game. In short, they wanted to make a point-and-click adventure title with puzzles that contributed to the narrative’s pacing, rather than take away from it. Having played a myriad of adventure games with ill-fitting, obtuse puzzle design, I can’t help but applaud that.
It also helps that the game has a strikingly original plot.
Richard & Alice tells the tale of two imprisoned characters getting to know each other. Though it doesn’t say it directly, it seems clear that the game takes place in the future. For starters, the outside world has been overwrought with snow, forcing survivors to take shelter and hope for the best. Despite this bleak futuristic setting, though, this is really a game about the past. As the two main characters talk with one another, players are treated to interactive flashbacks. These flashbacks tell the story of how each of them ended up in prison, as well as the strange, dangerous world they currently live in. It’s an eerie premise, complimented perfectly by the game’s unsettling music.
Although the preview build we were provided was brief, I was able to experience a flashback from Alice, wherein she and her five-year-old son Barney were forced to escape from a dangerous kidnapper. If ever you’ve played a horror game where you’re tasked with protecting a child, you know just how nerve-wracking the situation can be. Here it’s no different, and Alice handles the situation by trying to convince Barney that this is all just a game, and winning means they can get away from “the bad man.”
Being that it’s an adventure game, getting out of this dilemma (and the following ones) required me to use items in clever, sometimes unexpected ways. It was during this portion that I could see what the developers were talking about: The game’s puzzles don’t ask you to throw logic out the window and spam them with potential solutions. Rather, they vibe perfectly with the situation at hand.
I didn’t get a chance to experience a flashback from Richard, but at one point he mentioned that he’s ex-military, and that he doesn’t regret what he did to end up in prison. I’m genuinely excited to see what got him there, as well as what led to the strange, creepy world on display in Richard & Alice.