Snow has fallen for some time now and the world is not as we remember it. As a species, humans have begun relying on their natural instinct to survive at all costs, and the snowfall has made the outside world a very dangerous place to live. Richard and Alice are both prisoners deep under the Earth’s surface, yet somehow this is a more ideal situation. At least here they have food, shelter and companionship, but like all of us, they also possess their own secrets.
Richard & Alice is a point-and-click adventure game in which you explore the lives of both prisoners. Richard is chatty and inquisitive, and passes the time watching reruns of old nature documentaries. He’s a by-the-book type while Alice, the newcomer, is a bit more apprehensive to let her guard down. Both have been through their fair share, as you’d pretty much have to in order to end up in prison.
The point-and-click adventure genre has been out of its prime for a while now, but still manages to thrive deep in the indie scene. Richard & Alice is about as indie adventure as you can get, featuring a deliciously dark narrative written by published author and Starbound writer Ashton Raze.
Gameplay is very basic adventure fair, featuring standard point-and-click tropes that really only exist to further the story along. You’ll explore each area, pick up what the game allows you to pick up and then figure out where to use or combine the items, which is definitely working as intended as the main focus of Richard & Alice lies in its poignant tale of parenthood, tragedy and hope. After speaking with Ashton Raze about which ending I had earned, I’m confident that even the most thorough of players will miss something during their initial playthrough, which is fine since Richard & Alice boasts 5 different endings. The game definitely felt more reliant on the narrative than any form of exploration or puzzle solving, although to be fair the story never really called for absurdly difficult brain teasers to begin with.
Richard & Alice was created using Adventure Game Studio, which does not allow the creator to include a screen resolution option within the game itself. Since I failed to launch the game using the Steam client, I assumed the only way to play the game was in windowed mode which proved to be a frustrating experience. Upon finishing the game the first time, it was brought to my attention that you can access full-screen resolution by launching the game’s setup option directly from the Steam client, so this alleviated one of my main concerns with Richard & Alice after the fact.
Featuring a retro pixellated art style, Richard & Alice is not going to appeal to the masses, but adventure games rarely rely on graphics to immerse the player. If you’re a fan of the adventure genre, you know all too well that a great story will always trump great visuals, and this one is no different. I personally love the retro style of modern indie games, so it never bothered me that it featured hand drawn pixels that were more akin to The Last Door, Dragonsphere, Beneath a Steel Sky or the original Gabriel Knight release, but some of the more barren areas had me craving more to look at than random trees or a trashcan.
Overall I was pleased with Richard & Alice, especially in its sound writing. I would honestly say that it’s the most well written dark adventure game that I’ve played since I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. The character development is fantastic, the story is well paced and offering multiple endings was more than enough for me to make a return trip. Although it features bare-bones point-and-click adventure style gameplay, it works fine within the game as long as you don’t require a lot of crazy puzzle solving to have a good time. If you’re a fan of adventure games and narrative is your thing, Richard & Alice is definitely worth your time.
Recommended for fans of: I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, point-and-click adventure games with a heavy narrative focus.
Bradley Keene is an avid gamer & aspiring writer from Baltimore, MD that handles news, reviews and editing here at What’s Your Tag?. If he’s not writing or knee-deep in an MMO, he’s usually watching low-budget horror films or following Orioles baseball. Follow him on Twitter, Twitch or contact him by e-mail. Love gaming? Join TEAM XBRO today!