Richard & Alice is a point and click adventure game where the emphasis is more on story and characters, rather than complex sets of puzzles. It can be debated whether or not this game is a point and click adventure, like I said, it’s very story and character focused. Don’t go in thinking it’s an old school point and click (The Secret of Monkey Island, King’s Quest, etc).
While there are large chunks of dialogue that you’ll be reading through, you’re always engaged. Desiring to know more about Richard and Alice, as well as the events that surround them and how they got to where they are; prison.
In the not too distant future. The non-stop snowy weather has driven the world into the apocalypse, the snow has ravaged varies cities, few are surviving and anarchy takes center stage for those desperate in surviving. There a few government-controlled areas where only fortunate souls reside in.
The game starts out with one of two characters that you will have control over, and if you haven’t figured it out already, the first is a man named Richard. Richard is in prison (a pretty glamorous one, might I add) with sofas, TVs, PCs, a bed, and a bathroom with a shower. Elements of Richard’s cell will play a key factor as you play along.
Across from his cell is the second character you control named Alice, who has recently arrived to this mysterious prison. Immediately Richard, (due to his loneliness in his cell) begins having conversations with Alice that lead to dramatic dialogue with hints of humor; which very few games are able to pull off correctly without forcing it and making the flow of conversations feel incoherently inconsistent.
Most of Alice’s back-story takes center focus throughout the majority of the game, in the way of flashbacks, which you play and do most of the puzzles in this game. In these flashbacks, you first help Alice and her five year old son Barney escape from their imprisonment inside a basement by a unknown man who had taken them in due to the chilling snowy weather that has ravaged a large area of the world.
Out of all the characters, Barney is the one that is the most well handled and realistic depiction of a five year old–the writing with Barney and Alice are the game’s strongest points. Barney keeps the story very balanced rather than it being a complete somber piece, it manages to pull you in right away and make you care about Alice’s story: parenthood, survival and how she ended up in the prison.
Despite it being a very linear game, there are a variety of dialogue options that I assume have a small affect on how things play out and information you attain based on what you say. I don’t know the full extent of that, I’ve only played it once. I have no doubt this is a title where playing it a second time you’ll see things that you didn’t the first time around.
The puzzle difficulties aren’t very hard, there are one or two instances where some of the puzzles and items you use to solve them seem very contrived. Other than that, it’s pretty straight forward and actually has context to them, rather than having them in there because it’s a point and click.
The presentation of the game is fine, nothing amazing that is going to blow you away. The art and design of levels aren’t superb, there are parts where the game looks good and other times it doesn’t, that alone doesn’t detract the quality of Richard & Alice.
The music is good, works well with what’s going on in a scene; the lighthearted moments of Richard & Alice had pretty decent background music.
Overall, the story told in this game is a good one. There’s a lot to like about it’s characters, it explains enough of the character’s story. While it doesn’t explain or tell you everything about the overall scope of what’s going on beyond the prision, you know enough to draw your own conclusions. I feel that some of the ambiguity was intentional–meaning you know as much of what’s going on as Richard and Alice do.
If you’re looking for a game that tells a short story well, and gives you enough control to make you feel a part of the game’s strong story unfolding in front of you; this is one indie title to definitely play through once or even twice. It’s not a very long game, but for $5.99, it’s well worth the price.
RATING: Full Price