River’s of Alice – Extended Cut – Wii U

The River’s of Alice is a point and click adventure game from the indie developers at Delirium Studios in sweet Spain. It was once a mobile game now converted (with a small extension) to a Wii U title for the eShop. Needless to say, the touch screen plays a huge part in the game. It follows the classic standard of pointing where you want to go, what to pick up and what to interact with. In fact the touch screen is the only possible way to control anything in the game.

The story begins with out hero Alice, entering her bedroom to go to sleep for the night. Alice has a rather wild and curious imagination however, and it’s not long before she has a dream that will be the root of our adventure. You begin to control Alice just after her pendant takes off and dissipates into four dragonflies, because why not? It’s her dream! You quickly recollect your pendant hanging from a tree that’s just next to your bed (this girl’s got a great imagination!) and set off to find those four magical dragonflies. Aside from this there’s very little story to go on, any interaction with other humans or… creatures is done through picture boards.

Being from a small development team, the game is minimalistic in its nature. Although it doesn’t quite reach the minimalism of our recent look at Star Sky, so this actually counts as a game! The art style is absolutely beautiful. Everything is hand drawn and water coloured and there’s a very tangible feel to everything, like you can almost reach out and touch the paper. It’s difficult to define the actual style though. I get a real wave of nostalgia when I look at this game, it’s like illustrations of every kid’s novel you read in the 90’s all packed into a game.

As it is a point and click adventure the main crux of the game is in its puzzles. Finding the right balance in video game puzzles in incredibly difficult. The game needs to give just the right amount of clues without completely giving it away, allow for it to be challenging but not impossible and provide a real sense of “Aaaaahh of course!… I knew I was a genius.”

I think for the most part Delirium Games do it well enough. I think the biggest problem I have is that there are very little clues going into the puzzle to tell you just enough that you can understand what you need to do. Instead you often go in blind not even knowing what the goal is. You can go to a certain character in the game who will provide hints but I tried my best to avoid this as he practically gives the solution away. Don’t get me wrong, many of the puzzles are pretty fun to do and accomplish but there are the odd ones that will frustrate you or just leave you scratching your head (but not in a good way). The boiler room sliding tiles puzzle was especially unfathomable without looking at the simple solution.

Along the way you can pick up a handful of items in your inventory, but aside from your pendant and notebook, they generally don’t stay there for very long. Items usually have but one use and that use is never too far away. You acquire standard things like stones or sticks but you can get even more crazy things like a mask and even car keys briefly. I like this method as it stops your inventory from feeling bogged down and you getting overwhelmed. You always know what item you need to use in each situation.

Despite being a short game (I clocked in at under three and a half hours) there are so many environments packed into it from a lava-like river to a beach or a rubbish tip inside an apartment building. Alice’s dream certainly allows the developers to be creative with their landscapes and I’m thankful for it, as most of them are gorgeous. The prospect of reaching a new and curious environment was one of the driving forces behind my enjoyment.

Music is highly prominent in the Rivers of Alice. There are a few musical puzzles to solve (I sincerely hope you’re not tone deaf, although you can get by with guess work) which is a nice facet of this particular game. The soundtrack is provided by a real performing Spanish band and it truly stands out, it’s ambient, relaxing, uplifting and intriguing all at the same time especially the tracks that feature vocals, something more games should dare to do.

All of the menu work and interactions are done on the gamepad, leaving the TV screen free of any clutter aside from the odd bit of exposition. The presentation is very clean overall and there are some nice touches here and there such as upon booting the game up, to access the main menu, you must open up the wardrobe. It sounds bizarre but it’s actually all rather charming.

Overall I enjoyed my time playing through The Rivers of Alice. Some of the puzzle work can be a little ropey and not quite as polished as they could be, but generally it succeeds. It’s an intriguing game full of charm and the artwork, combined with the music, really make it a full package.

 

Good points

  • Beautiful artwork
  • Great music
  • No padding

 

Bad points

  • Puzzles can sometimes be too obscure for their own good
  • Little story

 

Game provided by publisher

 

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