Developer: △○□× (Miwashiba)
Genre: Adventure, Horror
You play as Allen, a boy suffering from amnesia, who gets taken in by a man calling himself Teacher. Allen meets a bunch of other kids in the facility, each with their own problems but before he can make friends with them something strange happens. Ignoring Teacher’s warning and following some rumor, Allen ends up in a bizarre fairy tale like dreamworld. He soon meets the Chesire Cat and the White Rabbit and is tasked with finding some World Keys. Is it possible to go back to the real world, while saving everyone along the line? …or does Allen have to sacrifice someone to escape from this nightmare?
The protagonist of the story. A boy who lost his memories, caused by a certain incident. He likes reading books and only has very few lines in the game.
Letty & Rick
Letty’s a bright, energetic girl who shares a room with the boy Rick. For some reason Rick looks like a male Letty which makes you wonder how the two are related.
A timid girl dressed in red. She likes teddy bears and collects them. You can find them everywhere in her room.
A mischievous boy who likes telling lies and plays pranks on people. His newest obsession are frogs.
A quiet girl who likes playing the piano. She prefers spending her time alone and rarely talks to others.
A man only known by the name Teacher. He’s taking care of some kids, including the protagonist. It seems like he’s researching something in secret.
Some cat creature, Allen meets in the dreamworld. Speaks in a strange way and no one knows what he’s really up to.
Acts as a guide for the protagonist in the dreamworld but is a very lazy person who thinks explaining stuff is a pain.
Alicemare’s a pixel adventure game with focus on story, character background and riddles. While Allen’s trapped in a different (dream like) world, he travels from place to place to look into the heart of the other kids and discovers their sad past. The characters and their background are all based on fairy tales and the way it’s written makes you want to uncover the whole thing, finding out all secrets. You aren’t told everything at once, though. While you solve various riddles, you are given notebook scrapes, looking like pages from a children’s novel with grotesque drawings. It’s not always easy to interpret what Alicemare wants to tell you because it likes to use metaphors or is only vague hinting at some things but the added extra part, you can find late into the game, gives a clearer understanding on the story of each child.
There are seven endings in total and it’s possible to see all of them in a single playthrough if you meet the ending requirements and keep a save before making the final decision. The thing’s that you probably need a guide because you have to collect missable shards throughout the game to unlock one of the endings. No matter what you do, non of the outcomes are truly happy. Especially the Chesire Cat ending’s pretty evil and cruel. Unfortunately, something like an ending overview or a gallery isn’t included in the game.
While the character design and pixel art’s well done, the environments feel a little too big and bland at times and you often have to explore on your own to find a way to get through the story. I don’t want to say that the game should guide you all the time but more hints would have been nice to avoid some aimlessly wandering around. Too bad, almost none of the riddles are directly linked to the story. They feel kind of randomly added in to keep you busy. I mean, you suddenly encounter a murder mystery scene with some strangers and all but it has nothing to do with the task the game gives you. The riddles itself are fine but I already knew some of them (like the one with the cat and the boat puzzle) which made them very easy to solve. Others are slightly more challenging but you can figure them out if you think about them for a moment. If you need a distraction, you can play some Nu Tetris, which is, like the name implies, a Tetris mini game.
Some scenes and parts of the game have a horror feel to it but there aren’t any enemies chasing you or jump scares. It feels creepy and dark but it’s pretty tame compared to other games in the genre. You still encounter blood, abuse, suicide, murder among other things. If something like that bothers you, better stay away from this game.
Even without enemies, a wrong decision or move can still cost you your life. It’s necessary to save often because you never know when you run into another game over. The controls are a bit wonky so it’s actually a good thing that they decided against using hectic gameplay parts.
The bgm’s irritating me because two tracks are exactly the same as in Enigma:. Turns out both developers borrowed music from H/MIX GALLERY and happen to choose the same tracks. The problem is that I associate one track with some rather unpleasant memories of Colette so every time I hear it I’ve to think of that and not the character it’s intended for. Otherwise the music’s pretty cool and fitting.
At the beginning Alicemare couldn’t really capture my interested because it all started a little weird and boring (and I’m not really a fan of protagonists who don’t say a word) but once I stepped into the first door to find out more about the characters, it became difficult to put the game down. I played through it in one session, using a guide for the endings to make sure I don’t miss anything. It took me around six hours to see everything but it’s entirely possible to play through it in four to five hours. There are some things that could have been done better, like actually linking the riddles to the story but it’s still an interesting, little adventure with a well thought out story and cute art!
If you are interested in playing Alicemare, please consider purchasing the game on either Playism or Steam to support the developer. It was originally a free game and you can still find that version online but it’s worth spending money on.