As a member of the indie game press, I am very aware of how difficult is for developers to create something as complex as a game. It is something that part of me is terrified of attempting, with the other half dying to attempt. Seeing game journalists Lewis Denby and Ashton Raze team up as Denby/Raze to create the ‘end of the world’ set Richard & Alice is hugely inspiring. And the game did not disappoint.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=doSnZFbmUAo]
Richard and Alice is an interesting point and click adventure game, that tells the story of the titular characters through flashbacks as the two get to know each other in prison. The world outside is as harsh and cold as the never ending winter of the world the story takes place in. The plot maintains a steady feeling of sympathy for the main characters, though it was through Alice’s flashbacks where the story shines.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Alice and even share her desperation to find a better life for her son, Barney. Barney was a five year old boy who saw his mother’s efforts to survive as new adventures. His constant cheery naivety provided an interesting clash with his mother’s opposite attitude, world-weary and almost hopeless. It was easy to recognize Alice’s patience and love for Barney, and desperation for a better situation for him to grow up in.
The gameplay of Richard and Alice was simple enough, switching between controlling Richard in his prison cell to Alice in the flashbacks of her eventual imprisonment. Puzzles were easy if I was able to find the smaller objects, which usually required a good amount of pixel hunting. Puzzles were almost always based on finding a way into or out of a room, and mostly took place in small areas.
The biggest problem I had with the gameplay aspect of Richard and Alice was when I was supposed to find a way into the second floor of a building. Instead of clearing off rubble, Alice chose to take the traditional point and click route. This meant I was supposed to find my way into a church yard, which was only accessible through a narrow path in woods. If I clicked the trees around the path, the game would hint that I wasn’t supposed to go through there. To be honest, the only reason I followed the path was the guide Denby/Raze sent to us with a copy of the game.
Despite the strong storytelling of the game, the weakest part may have been the music and visuals. They were not necessarily bad but the presentation never really stuck with me. The music fit situations but unlike more well-known story heavy games like To the Moon, it didn’t seem to make a dent in my emotional state.
Richard and Alice is an exception to the standard apocalyptic game. There are no bombs, no monsters, not even any villains. Denby/Raze focused on telling a more human story, especially with Alice’s relationship with her young son. It was easy to relate to both main characters, but sometimes the oversights in design made the game more frustrating than it should have been. I do believe that the story the game told is worth experiencing, and definitely worthwhile of Denby/Raze’s efforts.
You can follow Denby/Raze on their Twitter accounts (Denby, Raze) or read the development blog for more updates on the game. Richard and Alice is available for purchase from GoG, IndieCity, and Desura for $5.99[review pros="Well Written Characters, Unique Setting, Overall Story" cons="Puzzles Too Easy, Pixel Hunting, Bland Presentation" score=73]