As with every year I always ask Santa bring me a huge sack of video games so that I can lose track of another year of my life until the next sack of games makes its way to me, it really is an endless cycle that will continue until I kick the bucket. This year I got some pretty good titles so I wasn’t in any rush to play The Rivers of Alice – Extended Version as I’d never really heard of it before and frankly the AAA games that I’d received we’re on the top of my list. I wasn’t really expecting much from this at all, but wow. Wow!
The Rivers of Alice – Extended Version is a point and click puzzle game where you control Alice who got her head down one night and woke up in a bizarre world filled with magical creatures and complex puzzles. Your task then is to capture dragonflies by solving the puzzles on of the different screens. Obviously this is a puzzle game, so certain items that you find will help you with other screens and you’ll probably need to walk through the game a bit to find out which item will help you with what puzzle. If you really are stuck though you can talk to Sloth (a sleepy armoured caterpillar of some kind) who will help you out with some drawings and clues. If you spend too long on a particular puzzle then a clue plant will grow which provides another clue in the form of a riddle.
The game is playable on the Wii U, the app store on most mobile phones and via Steam and was developed by Delirium. I have to say that the developers did a fantastic job on this. I was truly shocked as this was not a game that I was expecting to be as good as it was, perhaps it’s because I started playing with very little expectation or because I was just super bored that day but this game delivered well and above what I was expecting and I can honestly say that it’s a game I thoroughly enjoyed.
Visually the game is sound, it’s got a kind of sketch cartoon drawing feel to it. It’s really quite a simple design but it’s effective for this kind of game and some of the graphics are simply beautiful. Personally my favourite part of the graphics were the different ideas, animations and designs of the different characters. This isn’t the kind of thing that the developers have chucked together in the hopes to make money, you can tell that a lot of time and thought has gone into this game and it really pays off.
The sound fits well with the game and as your wandering through the maps you can unlock the background music of each of the sections to play when you’re in the main menu. The music, the sounds and all the noises were just perfect. I have no criticisms of anything sound related in the game which is a pretty big plus.
Story wise there isn’t really too much to talk about but your main task is to get out of the dream world and back into bed which ironically you can do by exiting the game. When I say there isn’t much to talk about with the story I don’t mean that as a particularly bad thing. Every game needs to have some aspect of a story but it shouldn’t overshadow the gameplay or you will end up with an interactive movie, vice versa a game should have some story to it or else you will just end up with a bad game which doesn’t actually grip the audience at any point.
So, obviously one of the huge aspects of this game is the actual puzzles that have gone into it, because, well a game which has 1 puzzle of “What is a cat?” would be quite boring. They are a nice mix, some of them involve logic, some of them are little mini games and some include going back and forth to find other items to help you out. Of course as I mentioned before you have help if you need it. Some of the puzzles are fairly straightforward such as the watering of a plant but there’s some in there that will really make you think which is what the game does best. You will find yourself playing this game as one huge puzzle rather than lots of individual ones. There is one in particular which caught my eye (and I’ll try not to spoil anything) but a puzzle in a cave that you enter that will blow your mind.
There’s some nice little features in the game such as a note pad which lets you jot down any clues or answers to puzzles that you might have (and trust me you will need it). I have to say this is a nice touch for anyone playing, even if I did draw a pair of breasts on mine the second I opened it up, hoping that may actually be an answer to one of the puzzles. It does come in handy though during some of the puzzles when you have to remember things, especially with myself as I have about the same short term memory length as a wet potato.
At this point in the review I would usually turn into the sadistic monster that I am and say something really horrible about the game but I actually can’t. There are improvements that could be made, for instance Alice can move quite slowly from time to time and some of the puzzles can be a bit easy compared to some of the more difficult ones but frankly these are points that I don’t really care about too much because I had so much fun playing it. If I could make one criticism it would be more of a personal one and that’s the use of sliding puzzles because they are the bane of my life. I am about as effective at sliding puzzles as trying to put out a fire using alcohol, which would be about the same reaction as my laptop screen got when after an hour of this particular puzzle.
There’s not really much more that I can say about the game. It’s a brilliant example of how a point and click puzzle game should be and any developers who are looking to create a game with the same genre should think about using this as a learning point. The story is short and sweet, the graphics are macabre and crazy (in a good way) and the sound compliments the entire atmosphere of the game with perfection. The puzzles are a brilliant mixture of complex but straight forward but will also get you thinking about how to progress.
The developers of this game deserve a pat on the back because if anyone asks me from now on how to create a straight forward and effective game which will entertain people then I can pretty much tell them to go and look at this. Currently on Steam the price of the game isn’t that much so I would say that if you have a bit of spare time on your hands and feel like you want to give your brain a workout then it’s definitely worth the purchase. I can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of point and click adventures but my eyes have been opened and it’s definitely something I will try again in the future.